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Japanese Festivals. Back to homepage. Japanese Festivals Background. Japan has an abundance of local festivals

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Japanese festivals

Japanese Festivals

Back to homepage


Japanese festivals background
Japanese Festivals Background

Japan has an abundance of local festivals

Festivals in Japan areconnected with shrines and temples throughout the country. Most are held on an annual basis on a particular set date. Japan's festivals often celebrate the changing of the seasons, special historical events or are connected with fertility or prayers to the gods for good health. Most festivals in Japan are colorful, lively and joyous affairs often involving a procession with participants in period dress carrying through the streets a special, decorated palaquin containing the local Shinto Gods. Many festivals in Japan may also involve large, decorated floats, exhibitions of martial arts such as archery and horse-riding, music, dancing and quantities of food and drink served up from street stalls.


Tanabata festival star festival
Tanabata Festival “Star Festival”

Tanabata, also known as the

"star festival", takes place on the

7th day of the 7th month of the

year. One popular Tanabata

custom is to write one's wishes on

a piece of paper, and hang that

piece of paper on a specially

erected bamboo tree, in the hope

that the wishes become true.

Colorful Tanabata festivals are

held across Japan in early July

and August.


Sapporo snow festival
Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival is the

most famous winter festival in

Japan and attracts people from

all over the world. This festival

lasts about a week and begins in

early February. More than 300

large snow statues are exhibited

and the two biggest sites are in

Sapporo and Hokkaido. The

statues are illuminated with

colorful lights at night making

the views even more incredible.


Kyoto gion festival
Kyoto Gion Festival

The ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto is taken

back in time during the Gion festival, by

Yasaka Shrine. The Gion festival is one of

the biggest festivals in Japan and begins

July 1st and lasts until July 31st. At this

time, there are many street vendors with

games and Japanese festival food. It is said

that the summer of Kyoto begins with the

Gion Matsuri.

The Gion festival was started in 869 A.D

when a bad plague spread through Kyoto.

In the first festival, young men carried

numbers of wooden floats. It was a divine

intervention to stop the plague. The plague

soon ended, and this eventbecame a popular festival.


Cherry blossom festival
Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry blossoms can be viewed

from Jan. to June in different

regions in Japan. There are

hundreds of cherry blossom

festivals held during this time.

Pictures taken by me (Twyla Harvey) while at the

2004 Hirosoki Cherry Blossom Festival (Hirosoki,

Japan). Top photo taken from top window of

Hirosoki Castle.


Aomori nebuta festival
Aomori Nebuta Festival

The Aomori Nebuta Festival is

one of the most famous festivals

in Japan and is known as Japan's

fire festival. It's held from Aug.

2 to Aug. 7 every year. Over 20

nebuta floats are pulled by

people in the streets of Aomori

city. Also,Aomori citizens and

audiences participate in the

festival as dancers called haneto.


Obon festival
Obon Festival

The 13th through 16th of August

is called obon in Japan. Obon is a

Buddhist event and one of the

most important traditions for

Japanese people. It is the period

of praying for the repose of the

souls of one's ancestors. People

believe that their ancestors‘

spirits come back to their homes

to be reunited with their family

during obon.


Setsubun mame maki
Setsubun - Mame Maki

February 3rd is called Setsubun in

Japan. It's not a national holiday, but

Setsubun mame maki (bean

throwing) festivals are held on the

day. Traditionally, people throw

roasted soy beans at home, shouting

'oni wa so to' (get out demons) and

'fu ku wa uchi‘ (come in happiness.)

This beans are called fuku mame

(fortune beans.) It is said that people

Keep their health and happiness

When they pick up and eat fuku

mame a number equal to their ages.


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