7 fascinating festivals for culture lovers in Japan
Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri)
This Japanese festival is held every year in early February and attracts more than 2 million tourists a year. People come here to admire the unique snow sculptures, and some of which are extremely large in size.
At Odori Park, the center of the festival, these snow sculptures are all added shimmering, colorful lights, creating an interesting fairy scene. In other areas, tourists can try skiing with friends and families, or even create their own snow sculptures.
Chichibu Night Festival (Chichibu Yomatsuri)
This is the annual festival of Chichibu temple, Tokyo has a history of more than 300 years and is considered one of the three largest processions in Japan. This Japanese festival takes place in 2 nights with many large palanquins being carried gradually toward the main gate of the shrine by strong bearers in cheerful traditional musics.
Visitors can also enjoy Japanese specialties through street stalls selling food. If you have a chance to get there, don't forget to try amazake (sweet rice wine) to warm up and dispel the cold of winter.
Gion Festival (Gion Matsuri)
This Japanese Festival was born to pray for the gods to help people avoid disasters, keep the spirit of peace, avoid all fears and sorrows. Gion Matsuri is held at Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto Prefecture for a month, from July 1 to July 31 with many exciting activities.
The main and most awaited activity at this festival is the Yamaboko Yunko parade. During this parade, everyone will be able to see unique processions with palanquins showing off traditional Japanese culture.
Tenjin Festival (Tenjin Matsuri)
Every year on July 24 and 25 in Osaka, Tenjin Festival is held to thank Sugawara No Michizane - the Japanese God of Wisdom. This festival includes a parade on the ground and also on the river along with fireworks.
For the locals, the lively rituals of the festival are an occasion to enjoy the hot summer days filled with traditional costumes and jubilant local atmosphere.
Nada Fighting Festival (Nada Kenka Matsuri)
Kenka Matsuri is a battle between seven villages to please the gods. The Japanese believe that the more intense battle is, the more their gods are amused, and the winner will be blessed to have a good crop next year.
The festival takes place every year on October 14 and 15 at Matsubara Hachiman Shrine, Himeji, Hyogo, Japan, and Mount Otabi. This festival attracts around 100,000 visitors from all over the world to visit and watch the ceremony. Festival participants will receive a beautifully decorated large palanquin to represent their district or village to compete.
Awa Dance Festival (Awa Odori)
Awa Odori is the dance festival of Tokushima Prefecture. Every year around August, Tokushima Prefecture celebrates this festival. Festival attendees gather in groups (called Ren). Each of these groups consisted of dancers and musicians wearing traditional costumes, singing, dancing and moving through the streets.
This festival dates back to 1586 on the occasion of the opening of Tokushima Castle. Lord Land Hachisuka Iamasa at that time gave wine to the people. When the wine stared working, people started standing up and dancing to the music, and that's when the Awa dance was born.
Cherry Blossom Festival (Sakura Matsuri)
Sakura Matsuri takes place at different times of the spring, depending on the weather. Sakura, or cherry blossoms are the national flower of Japan, so the Japanese held a festival to admire this flower as a traditional culture to honor the national beauty. This is a long-standing Japanese festival, thought to have originated more than 1,000 years ago.
Besides showing respect for the beauty of their homeland, this festival is also meaningful in Buddhism. It is believed that the short beauty of the petals teaches people about the impermanence of life, so we need to live meaningfully for the present.
By: Dinah Gutierrez