Cultural Events

Cultural Events

Cultural events, or nationwide festivals, are those things which are celebrated by all the citizens of Japan. There are those which will have fixed days, and those which will have several days of celebration. While visiting, there will certainly be one or the other. Maximize your entertainment by finding a way to celebrate with the locals, there is never a shortage of things to participate in, or to enjoy, throughout the Japanese calendar. Since everyone is involved, asking the locals will be the easiest way to find the festivities.

Hatsumode

Description Hatsumode is the Japanese New Year. It is a time when the residents visit the very first Shinto shrine. It is customary to visit either on the first, second, or third day of the year, when most residents are dismissed from work. Japanese residents make their wishes for the New Year and either buy, or return charms from the previous year in celebration of ringing in the new one. Like in the states, it is a time to complete the business of the year before and start anew.

Nanakusa-no-sekku

Description Nanakusa-no-sekku literally translates into the festival of seven herbs. It is a time when spring flowers are celebrated. It is a fixed holiday which falls on the seventh of January and a time when those celebrating the day partake by eating herb rice porridge. It is a festival that is supposed to bring about good luck. The night before there are certain rituals that are performed to bring on luck which is followed the next day by eating a specific concoction of spring flowers.

Setubun

Description Setubun literally means the bean throwing festival, or bean throwing ceremony. It is always on the day before the first day of spring, February 3rd, every year. It is a day when you are supposed to perform certain ritualistic bean throwing to ward off evil, and to cleanse yourself from the previous year’s bad luck and evil spritis. Like a rebirth, it coincides with the new life that grows for the new spring year.

Hinamatsuri

Description Hinamatsuri is literally a girl’s day, or doll’s day as it is translated. A holiday on March 3rd, it is a day that is marked by celebrating girls. There are red carpets that are rolled out all over Japan that are adorned with dolls. The red carpets are a display of the empress and emperor of times past. Meant to be a remembrance of a time when the emperor was celebrated with festivals, it is celebrated throughout Japan and a day that is displayed throughout the city.

Ohigan

Description Celebrated during the Buddhist autumn and spring equinox. The festival is timed during mild weather when there was more freedom from field workers. A buddhist inspired, and celebrated holiday, its inception was to use the time that the field workers had a lull to bring them back into the church. It is a time of enlightenment which is supposed to reinvigorate those who celebrate the Buddhist faith. Based on the six perfections, it is a time to reinvest yourself to the practice of Buddhism.

Tango no Sekku

Description Also known as the Feast of Banners, this festival was originally just for boys but now includes girls. Families put up carp-shaped koinobori flags prior to this day, one for each child. The carp is chosen because of a legend that a carp became a dragon after it swam upstream and so are used to signify success in the lives of the children. Kintaro dolls are also display, often riding on a large carp.

Tanabata

Description Tanabata means the “evening of the seventh”. It is a celebration of the meeting between the two deities Hikoboshi and Orihime. The belief is that the Milky Way separates the love of these two Gods, and during this ceremony they are reunited. It revolves around the lunar calendar, which has the festivities beginning on July 7th and continuing on days surrounding both July and August. A tradition in Japan, it is definitely a cultural experience you don’t want to miss.

Obon

Description Obon is a festival that is seeded in the Buddhist religion. It is a day that is marked when you are supposed to honor the remembrance of those spirits which have gone to their rest before you. It is a time when people hold family reunions, and return to the graves of where their ancestors have been laid to rest. It is a festival which is held for three days, but the date of such festivals vary depending on the region and the calendar which is adhered to.

Tsukimi

Description The Tusukimi is also known as the Otsukimi which translates into the moon-viewing. It is a Japanese festival that celebrates the full moon. Usually held in the eighth month on the fifteenth day, the waxing moon is celebrated during the nineth month on the 13th day. It is not uncommon for people to celebrate it spanning across several days instead of just one. It is marked by making decorations of pampas grass and rice dumplings.

Shichi-go-san

Description Shichi-go-san is a festival that is literally translated seven-five-three, and it is a tradition for seven year old girls, and five and three year old boys. It is held on an annual basis, and although not a national holiday it is one that is very popular throughout Japan. It is a festival that is planned on the closest weekend to November 15th and celebrated to promote the health and growth of boys and girls around Japan.

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