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