Nagoya University welcomes thousands to 65th Annual Festival

Summer festivals are big in Japan, and one aspect of this is the tradition of bunka-sai, or 'culture festival', in schools and universities. Held over several days, these are an opportunity for students to show off their skills and the effort they have put into their extracurricular activities.

The Nagoya University festival, known locally as Meidai-sai, has a history dating back to the 1950s. This year's festival, the 65th, was the second held since the COVID-19 pandemic and was back in full swing despite the construction work blocking the green belt in front of the library.

Meidai-sai, which is held on the first or second weekend in June, starts on Thursday and runs through Sunday, with the weekend as the focus of the event. Admission is free and anyone is welcome. Bands, choirs, and dancers take to the stages, clubs and societies gather to share their interests, sports teams show their athletic prowess, and scientists open their labs to give visitors a taste of innovative university research. Students organize the festival, with the festival weekend being the culmination of a year's hard work for the dedicated volunteers who make the entire event run. 


Student volunteers in their signature red jackets


Representing them is the festival mascot Furyaa, a mysterious spirit whose existence revolves around the Nagoya food ebi-fry, which are breaded fried shrimp. Furyaa's eyebrows are ebi-fry, and legend has it he cooks himself new eyebrows every morning.



Furyaa meets his boss, Nagoya University President Sugiyama


The visual centerpiece of Meidai-sai is the main stage in front of the Toyoda Auditorium. It hosts musical and dance performances on all four days of the festival, from taiko drums to rock bands, jazz fusion, cheerleading and almost anything else you can imagine. On Friday night, it was the backdrop for a joyous and atmospheric bon-odori traditional dance event, in which over a hundred attendees danced the night away, drenched in the warm evening sun.




 Drummers on stage accompanying the bon-odori dance 


Bon-odori celebrations in the evening sun


The Nagoya University fusion band performing on the main stage 


On the other side of campus, students set up booths along the two main thoroughfares that run from the entrances to the far side of the library. They sell festival foods such as warabi-mochi and yakisoba, and there are also flea market stalls and clubs that offer activities. The international COFSA and NUFSA societies were on hand to take visitors on a world tour of cultures present at Nagoya University.


The COFSA booth (above), and waltz and rumba dance performances (below) 


In the Integrated Building for Liberal Arts, clubs of all types gathered to share their skills and interests. The guitar club was jamming, the Lego club exhibited their models, the calligraphy club displayed their scrolls, and the mahjong club had multiple tables set up for people to play. There is something for everyone at Nagoya University.


The Lego club display (above) and visitors playing mahjong on the tables set up by the mahjong club (below)


The festival has been an important connection between Nagoya University and the community since its inception. Welcoming residents to our campus to share the spirit of Nagoya University remains a joy, and we look forward to the 66th Nagoya University Festival in June 2025. We hope to see you there.