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Introducing Susukino Oiran Dochu at the Susukino Festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido

This video, titled "Sapporo, Susukino Festival 2018 – Oiran Dochu" (札幌 すすきの祭り2018「すすきの花魁道中」 susukino oiran douchu), was uploaded by "Kita no Kuni Kamo" (北の国かも).
It introduces Susukino Oiran Dochu, a popular sightseeing attraction and event in Hokkaido.
Susukino Oiran Dochu is an annual event that takes place during the Susukino Festival held for three days in early August in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

The history of the Susukino Festival dates back more than 55 years, to August 1965, when the first Susukino Festival was held.
It is said to have originated from the Susukino Festival held in 1951.

More About Susukino Oiran Dochu

Image of an oiran
Photo:An oiran

One of the historical events of the Susukino Festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido, is Susukino Oiran Dochu, a procession of courtesans that can be seen in the video.
Susukino Oiran Dochu began in 1984 when nine courtesans from Asakusa, Tokyo were invited to perform in a commemorative event, and has since become a regular part of the Susukino Festival.

The roles of the courtesans in the procession are chosen by the public, with each role having its own name.
In addition to the servants and the proprietress, new courtesans also appear in the procession, recreating the red-light districts of the past.
The child in the kimono walking behind the new courtesan is called a Kamuro.
The courtesan procession can be seen from 0:57 in the video.
The participants in the procession wear special costumes and geta to recreate the way people walked in the past.

The Oiran of Susukino Oiran Dochu

An oiran is a member of the upper class of courtesans in a red-light district.
During the Edo period (1603-1868 A.D.), there were more than 2,000 courtesans, including those who served as sancha-joro (fairly high-ranking courtesans), zashiki-mochi, or yobidashi.

Oiran Dochu is a procession of courtesans between the hikite-jaya (a guide to brothels) and the brothels themselves, and has been attracting attention since that time.
During the courtesan procession, the courtesans slowly parade down the middle of the street in a very specific style, creating a captivating atmosphere.

70 Years of the Susukino Festival

Image of the Yosakoi Soran Festival in front of the Hokkaido Government Office, Sapporo
Photo:The Yosakoi Soran Festival in front of the Hokkaido Government Office, Sapporo

The Susukino Festival started around 1965, when the Sapporo Tourist Association proposed a large-scale summer festival combining the Kappa Festival and the Susukino Festival in Jozankei, because they felt that a normal summer festival wasn't interesting enough.

The Susukino Festival is a lively festival where many events have been held, such as the Miss Susukino contest, singing contests, and even beer drinking competitions.
In addition, "Susukino Kota" (すすきの小唄) and "Susukino Ondo" (すすきの音頭) were performed, and the participants enjoyed singing and dancing at the festival.
During the Susukino Festival, the central part of Susukino is turned into a pedestrian paradise.
There are more than 100 food stalls and other vendors, and visitors you can enjoy eating and drinking local specialties from Hokkaido.

In 1985, the Hokkai Festival Taiko Session was held, and taiko teams from all over Hokkaido performed a combined taiko drum performance.
In addition, many other events are held, such as the Susukino Music Festival, a mikoshi (portable shrine) procession, Susukino Night Fever, Susukino Samba Carnival, women's mikoshi, hayashi performances, lion dances, Yosakoi Soran Festival, and even live concerts.

[Susukino Festival Venue Information]
Place: Sapporo Ekimae-dori
Date: Three days in early August every year
Main event: Oiran Dochu (courtesan procession)
Organizer: Susukino Tourist Association

Other Festivals in Sapporo, Hokkaido

Image of Mikoshi at the Hokkaido Shrine Festival
Photo:Mikoshi at the Hokkaido Shrine Festival

In addition to the Susukino Festival, Sapporo City also holds the Hokkaido Shrine Festival (Sapporo Festival).
The Hokkaido Shrine Festival (Sapporo Festival) has a history of more than 100 years and is held around Hokkaido Shrine and Nakajima Park.
In addition, the Sapporo Summer Festival is lit up at night and attracts many visitors.
There are also other festivals such as the Odori Fireworks Festival, making it a place where you can enjoy many festivals.

The Sapporo Snow Festival, held in early February every year, is a festival of snow and ice, with several snow sculptures displayed in Odori Park and other venues, and is the largest festival in Hokkaido, attracting approximately 2 million visitors from all over Japan and overseas.

Summary of Susukino's Oiran Dochu

Oiran Dochu (courtesan procession) is the main event of the Susukino Festival held every summer in Sapporo, Hokkaido.
As you can see in the video, the courtesans dressed in beautiful kimono walk through the streets of Sapporo with a variety of different assistants.
The spectacle of the courtesan parading through the streets creates a fascinating atmosphere and is reminiscent of Japan's Edo Period.

Be sure to check out the four-and-a-half-minute video to get an idea of what Oiran Dochu, the main event of Sapporo, Hokkaido's Susukino Festival, is all about.

Written By
Last Updated : Jun. 5, 2023
新井 美紀(Miki Arai)
I mainly write articles about food. I've been a writer for three years.
The Susukino Festival - Travel Back in Time to Japan's Edo Period at Susukino Oiran Dochu! Feel the Bewitching Atmosphere of the Main Event at the Popular Festival in Hokkaido!
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