Enjoy 3 Japanese major festivals in summer

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Visiting Japan on the weekends or long-term holidays, many people choose to go to clean beaches with white sand stretching, while others visit shopping center which is crowded, busy and prosperous here.

There are also many tourists visit Japan because of the rich and diversity in cuisine. In addition, Japan is also an ancient and traditional land in festivals, if you want to learn how to live, people and culture, join traditional festivals in Japan will be a wonderful idea.

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3 famous festivals of Japan

As the festivals are celebrated at the certain time every year, people will gather together at temples or pagodas to join the events, carry palankeen (Omikoshi), push decorative cars (Dashi) and enjoy various types of food at stalls.. The purpose of the festivals is to worship the gods, ancestors or simply report and send thanksgiving the gods for a bumper crop. However, the curent purpose of celebrating festivals and their inherent meaning have gradually decreased, the rituals are also simplified. In addition, festivals such as the Sapporo-Yuki-Matsuri (Hokkaidō), the Sakura Festival at Takada Park (Niigata), the Hakata Dontaku Festival (Fukuoka), are also not concentrated in temples or pagodas but held right on the streets.

Japan has three major festivals: Gion Matsuri (Kyōto), Tenjin Matsuri (Osaka), Kanda Matsuri (Tokyo).

Gion Matsuri (Kyōto)

Gion Matsuri (Kyōto) is usually held from the 1st to the 31st of July. The Gion Matsuri festival has a history of about 1100 years and derived from one of the sequences in bleaching ceremonies to soothe the angry of gods that made fires, floods, and earthquakes. During celebrating time, Tokyo commercial area will be reserved for pedestrians three nights. The roads are organized like a long row of semi-conscious stalls. All girls participating in the festival will be wearing summer kimonos, walking on the street, with traditional bags and paper fans on hands.

Japanese girls with summer kimonos and paper fans on hands via Wikimedia Commons

Tenjin Matsuri

The festival is held approximately before July 25th annually. Tenjin (Tenjin Matsuri) was started in the 10th century and continues until today. The main events are celebrated on the 25th, including an on-shore procession with spectacular fireworks. This is the festival of the Tenmangu Temple to honor Sugawara Michizane, the god of wisdom. The festival includes a ceremony to bring the gods out of the temple and take him parading throughout the city, performing various festivities for the goddess, before returning to the temple. For many people, this is an ideal opportunity for them to dress themselves in traditional costumes, enjoy festival atmosphere during busy summer days.

Kanda Matsuri

Kanda Matsuri is held once every two years, in the middle of May. The Kanda Festival is celebrated on two Saturday and Sunday of May each year, in honor of the Shogun’s resounding feat and the praise their wives. This is also a chance for them to be proud of themselves. Previously, the festival was usually held on September 15, as it was the day General Ieyasu Tokugawa3 won the decisive battle of Sekigahara. Thanks to this victory, Ieyasu Tokugawa has become one of the Shogun symbols or a god of Shogun in Japan. After the victory, Edo citizen began to call the Kanda the Tenka festival, which meant the festival of unity.

Highlights of the festival

During festivals time, Mikoshi (palanquin) or Dashi (car decorations) are frequently encountered on streets. Mikoshi, also known as Omikoshi is usually carried on shoulders or put on the decorative car. Depending on the area costume, sometimes only carrying palanquins around the neighborhood, sometimes shaking, or even colliding the palanquins. The famous Colliding Festival is Nada No Kenka Matsuri (Hyōgo).

Besides, when carrying palanquin, the palanquin men also shouted: “Wasshoi” or “Essa” for encouraging spirit.

Tenjin festival via GaijinPot Blog

Enjoy festival time

During the festival, there are stalls called “Yatai”. The Yatai often sell food like Takoyaki, fried noodles, cotton candy … There are also Yatai serving games such as picking goldfish, fishing yo yo, shooting … The price of the yatai is usually from 200 to 500 Japanese yen. It is important to note that festivals usually take place in a short period of time, with many people crowded, so you need to decide in advance to avoid getting lost.

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