are many festivals and holidays in Japan. I will describe same of the most
popular here. If you think I should include other festivals, then please let me
festivals originated in the farming communities, to pray for good harvests in
the spring and to give thanks to the gods in the Autumn.
towns started to develop, festivals were initiated to drive away evil spirits
the Edo period, festivals took on a new meaning as a popular form of recreation,
whereby the people could forget their everyday troubles.
the second World War, the true meaning of there festivals began to fade and
nowadays the festivals exist for the tourists and the local peoples enjoyment.
There are also many newly created theme festivals.
at home, dry beans are thrown onto the floor to chase away bad luck and evil
is also a Setsubun festival at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa (Tokyo) where many
beans are thrown into the crowds of people, often by famous people.
Matsuri (Doll Festival)
roots of this festival go back to the Heian period. This is a time when girls
pray for a good and timely marriage. Dolls are set out on display, often on
tiered platforms. The dolls include an emperor and empress and many court
officials. Red and white sweets are usually eaten by children.. Peach blossom,
often decorate the home, because the festival used to be known as Momo no Sekku
(peach festival). The dolls must be put away, very soon after March 3rd,
otherwise, according to superstition, a girls marriage may be delayed, or she
could be forever unwed.
3rd or 4th
Dontaku (Fukuoka prefecture)
festival is held every year and includes a procession of many people wearing
colorful costumes. A major event in Fukuoka.
no Sekku (children's day, formerly Boys Day)
is also a national holiday. Many parents by their sons, miniature Samurai Armour,
Samurai dolls or helmets. Families also hang out Koi-nobori (carp streamers). In
the countryside the carp streamers can reach great lengths, but in the cities,
the length of the streamers are greatly restricted. This festival became popular
in the Meiji period.
festival started out as a welcome to the summer. Many Mikoshis (portable shrines) are
carried through the streets, to the
accompaniment of percussion instruments and some wild dancing. The
procession ends at Asukusa Shrine. This is a very popular festival. Many people
go to watch, and it is usually
impossible to see anything if you arrive late.
1st for the entire month
festival (in Kyoto)
festival lasts through the month. The highlight days are July 15th
and 16th when there are many floats and musicians playing a variety
of musical instruments very colorful at night.
festival originates in China. It came to Japan during the Nara period
and is based on a legend of the cowherd star (Altair) and the
Weave star (Vega). Two lovers who can only meet once a year on the
seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. Today children
will often write their hopes and wishes on multicolored pieces
of paper, attached to bamboo poles, with Origami cranes and
such, for display in the family garden. The
bamboo poles are supposed to be thrown in a river
to dispose of, soon after the day is over although it is usually not possible
for those who live in the city.
Saturday of July
Sumida-gawa river (near Asakusa) is perhaps one of the best displays
to be seen in and around Tokyo in the summer. But be
warned, the river side gets extremely
crowded with people, long before the fireworks
display starts. Fireworks are a very popular source
of summertime entertainment in Japan. Many families buy fireworks
to let off, while having a barbecue in the evening.
famous festival takes place in the evening. Large floats with pictures
of ancient Chinese hero's and famous Japanese Samurai are lit
from within and paraded through the streets. The festivals closing
ceremony features the floats being set adrift at sea return
to this world.
13 and 15th.
is one of the big holidays in Japan. A time when many Japanese
return to their hometowns and pray at their
ancestors graves or small Buddhist family alters.
Communities across Japan erect a scaffold tower in
the middle of a square, where musicians will play flutes
and drums with dancers circling the tower. If you visit such
a dance, you may very well, be asked to join in. Later you may
be given a small prize (present) for your
dance. You are sure to have a good time.
summer festival held in Kochi prefecture. Tens of Thousands of participants
dance along the main streets in Kochi city and holding
two Narukos,(a kind of musical instrument) and with Yosakoi songs, which can
be arranged as rock, Latin, pop or any kinds
of music. This old song is about a Buddhist monk who bought a hair
accessory for a girl whom he loved. How you dance
is solely up to you as long as you are holding two
Narukos. This attracts many dancers who even have to
pay to participate approximately 10,000 yen for each dancer, the dance team has a band which plays their own Yosakoi music, and
can enjoy watching different kinds of music and dance. The best
dance teams are later chosen and commended. The festivals last through
dance festival held in Tokushima prefecture. This might be more famous
than Yosakoi Matsuri as a summer festival in Shikoku island. The
lyric of this characteristic song says something like 'There are
fools who dance. There are fools who watch the dance.' The dance
is also characteristic and monotonous.
October to Mid November
is a chrysanthemum show, which is held at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.
The chrysanthemum, of course, is Japans national flower. You
can also buy some chrysanthemums in pots at the temple.
children's celebration. When a boy reaches the age of 3 or 5
years old and a girl 3 or 7 years old. They
are dressed up and often pay their respects at the
local shrine or temple.
the Edo period the Samurai class observed various rites. Boys and
girls aged 3 were allowed to grow their hair long. Boys aged 5 could
start wearing Hakama (a divided skirt worn by men:袴). Girls 帯)instead
of rope to tie their
it is completely commercialized with shops, photo studios, and
so on, pushing for business. Many parents rent a Kimono from a photo
studio for the time it takes, to take a picture in the studio.
All inclusive prices can cost from 30.000 yen upwards for a
pictures. Buying a Kimono set can be prohibitively expensive, with
prices over 100.000 yen not uncommon, the Kimono can only be worn on
a very few occasion.
of the year
end of year holiday is one of the longest for many workers, and
offices and factories close down. The holiday generally starts around
December 28th or 29th and finishes on the 5th or 6th January.
people visit shrines or temples from December 31st onwards. You
will be able to see many Japanese women wearing Kimonos during this
holiday. If you have the chance, visit one of the shrines, Iwould
recommend after January 4th, when there shouldn't be too many people.
You will be able to buy some interesting souvenirs. For example
lucky arrows, miniature garden rakes, and so on, which will bring
you good luck fro the coming year.