Festivals (matsuri) all over Japan are celebrated annually during every season. Many of Japan’s festivals are held in celebration of a shrine’s deity (kami) or a seasonal occurrence. Travelers are welcome to join the festive celebrations, from…… more
Festivals (matsuri) all over Japan are celebrated annually during every season. Many of Japan’s festivals are held in celebration of a shrine’s deity (kami) or a seasonal occurrence. Travelers are welcome to join the festive celebrations, from elegant processions, to ornate festival floats, and lively dancing. Three of the most famous Japanese festivals include the Gion Matsuri, Awa Odori, and Takayama Matsuri. The Gion Matsuri, held in Tokyo, is celebrated during the entire month of July. It is one of Japan’s most renowned festivals, highlighting a magnificent procession of floats called Yamaboko Junko. The most impressive floats are paraded on July 17th. This celebration is also recognized for its long history dating back to 869, which originally began as a religious ceremony. Additionally, a second procession with smaller floats was recently added in 2014, which features festivities on a smaller scale. The Awa Odori in Tokushima, which takes place from August 12 - 15, is the largest traditional dance festival in Japan. It is nicknamed “the Fool’s Dance” and was originated 400 years ago. Traditional festival instruments accompany the male and female dancers dressed in colorful uniforms. Foreigners are more than welcome to join the dancers, known as ren, who range from amateurs to veterans that have been practicing year- round. One of the most beautiful festivals in Japan, the Takayama Matsuri, is celebrated during the spring and autumn seasons. The Spring Festival (Sanno Matsuri) takes place between April 14 – 15, while the Autumn Festival (Hachiman Matsuri) is celebrated during October 9 – 10. A set of lavishly decorated floats are paraded through the town, along with a karakuri (mechanical doll) performance and a mikoshi procession. A mikoshi is a portable shrine that carries the respected shrine’s deity, which is the only time it leaves the shrine.