Festivals in Japan
My first post in 2012! I hope everyone had a great celebration to bring in the New Year. With a new year comes new changes and Japan will surely have several new changes this year since the devastation they faced last year. However, the great thing about Japan is there will always be something constant. No matter what happens, something consistent will be present in the people’s lives. One of those things is one of my favorite part of Japanese cultures: festivals! (also known as Matsuri) Many occurs throughout the year and many places often have their own to celebrate certain events in their specific town. I’ll introduce one big festival for each season. Check them out if you’ll be visiting Japan this year! Full list at Japan Guide.
Winter: Sapporo Snow Festival
in Sapporo, Hokkaido (Feb 6 – 12)
Hosts one of the biggest ice sculpture event in the world where many creations are found at Odori Park. Candles are also lighted at night and allow to float in the city’s canals making for an ambient yet festive atmosphere. It’ll be a memorable winter that’s for sure.
Spring: Takayama Matsuri
in Takayama, Gifu (Apr 14 – 15 & Oct 9 – 10)
Actually held in the Spring and again in Autumn. Characterized by tall, beautifully embellished floats that are pulled through Takayama. The event lasts until the evening which is considered the highlight of the festival by many.
Summer: Kanto Matsuri (Pole Lantern Festival)
in Akita City, Akita Prefecture (Aug 3 – 6)
The highlight of the festival features performers balancing these Kanto (bamboo poles) on their body at the same time for almost an hour. Afterward, people are welcome to try balancing it themselves. I’ll…pass as I don’t want to kill anyone.
Fall: Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages)
in Kyoto (Oct 22)
The festival is actually a large parade that starts from the Imperial Palace to the Heian Shrine. What’s spectacular is the parade has people in costumes from every period of Japan’s history when Kyoto was the country’s capital. Characters from the Meiji Restoration period appears first then other time periods until the Heian Period. 2000 participates are said to take part in the parade.