Despite being one of the top nations worldwide, Japan has managed to preserve its traditional, long-established values while integrating various modern, contemporary artistic traits. Dare I say that it is the mix of ultra-modern with the history of Japan that attracts 24 millions of tourist annually. It is probably impossible to find another exquisite fusion anywhere outside Japan, where the tradition and modernity collide, you will have a chance to take part in various traditional festivals and join a few local events with a twist of contemporary vision.
To show worship to certain forms of god/ goddess or any spiritual belief, it is Asian culture to celebrate and express their devotions through festivals, where more often than not involve in high-energy dancing, chanting, etc. And Japan is not an exception. Having more festivals (matsuri) than the rest of the world, Japan might have held the record of having some of the most intricating, liveliest festivals all year round: Sapporo Snow Festival (Hokkaido) in the winter, Hanami (Sakura watching) in the Spring, Gion Festival (Kyoto) in the summer and O-Bon Festival in the autumn.
Where Are the Major Events in Japan This Season?
Most international events are taking place in Tokyo- the world’s most hectic capital, the city that never sleeps, where the streets make you feel brand new, the light outside inspires your every step. It is also the growth in diversity of Tokyo population that attracts world-class events such as EDC ( Electric Daisy Carnival), Fuji Rock, Tokyo Amazon Fashion Week or as recently, Pride Parade in Harajuku,…
When Japanese pop culture is mentioned, it is no longer just about comics and cosplay; there is a whole new generation that trying to connect Japan to the world through their artistic eyes. Unlike any party you might have heard of, these are a little bit more eccentric, a little bit more discrete, perhaps it would be a huge mistake to pass on local underground parties held by Rainbow Disco Club, Metropolis Magazine, Monopo and so on if you ever got invited to one.
We are introducing 5 GUIDABLE-approved events for this season that you would not want to miss.
1. Fox in the Box (February 1st-2nd)
Although most of the world-class parties are held in the summer to take advantage of the heat, who says we can’t get a party going in the frost?
Fox In The Box is a collaboration with Japan professional events organization called Rainbow Disco Club, presenting us with the one and only “Music x Arts x More” conceptual events. Not just about music like any party out there, Fox In The Box promises to deliver a combination of breathtaking visual arts, high-tech installations in conjunction with high-quality music programming introducing new wave/disco/funk/soul and electronica. Before finally arriving in Japan, Fox In The Box has been a blast internationally, Amsterdam, Berlin, Las Vegas, etc…you name it!
This year, the event is taking place for two days from February 1st to February 2nd at the winter wonderland Niseko, Japan with a stunning mountainous view and popular skiing slopes. Here is some information that might help you to plan your trip to the blissful winter wonderland:
The nearest airport is New Chitose Airport in Sapporo. It should take about 2 hours to drive to Niseko, our venue. If you choose not to drive, you can also catch the train or bus, which might take 3-4 hours. However, we would recommend getting around by driving as you can easily hire a car to get around places. There are local trains, buses, and taxis as well so you can choose whichever suits you best.
NISEKO ICE VILLAGE
Soga 355-2, Niseko-Cho, Hokkaido, Japan
Tel +81 90-1259-0420
Niseko is a famous ice village up North where welcoming thousands of tourist every year; therefore, you can easily find a wide range of accommodations available in the surrounding areas (Niseko, Kutchan, Kombu, Annapuri). We recommend to check out travel agencies such as Booking, Airbnb, Agoda or your favorite travel booking site for references. However, keep in mind it can get super busy around this time so you would want to book in advance!
Whether you are into these particular genres of music or just the combination of interactive visual arts and music invokes your curiosity, it is hard to say no to this unique winter experience of the year.
2. Bean Throwing and Dance of The 7 Lucky Gods
Bean-Throwing Festival or Setsubun no Hi (節分) is one of the celebrations of the beginning of Spring, where beans are throwing as an act of getting rid of devils in ancient Japanese belief. The beans here symbolize vitality and revitalization which also are believed to purify the home by shooing away evil spirits. The whole concept of the festival is based on the play of words “bean”: the sounding of the word “beans” (Mame, 豆) is similar to the sounding of the word “demon eyes” (魔ma目me). Therefore, “throwing bean” has a similar sound to destroying demons (mametsu, 魔滅). Annually, Setsubun no Hi falls on February 3, although it is not a national holiday, the celebration is everyone’s favorite from children to elderly as it pretty much just involves in beans and beans only: bean throwing, bean eating, etc. With an effort to welcome good luck for a new cycle of time. Bean-throwing is celebrated across Japan, with customs, which slightly varies from prefectures to prefectures; however, you can expect to see joyful, wholehearted chanting which goes something like this “Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi” – “Devils go outside, Luck is welcome home”. In combination with bean throwing at Setsubun, there might also be an addition of traditional dance to honour the Seven Lucky Gods for the ultimate luck at Asakusa’s Sensoji, the temple with the longest history in Tokyo.
You can find the Setsubun Festival at any household at the time of the event, or any temples or shrines across the country. If you are still not sure, here is a list of temples in Tokyo which are expected to have thousands of attendees:
Sensoji Temple, 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-Ku, Tokyo
Zozoji, 4 Chome-7-35 Shibakoen, Minato, Tokyo 105-0011
Ikegami Honmonji Temple, 1-1-1 Ikegami, Ota-ku, Tokyo
3. Sapporo Snow Festival (February 6th-17th)
The Sapporo Snow Festival (さっぽろ雪まつり) is the most popular festival in Sapporo every February. There are many snow ice sculptures on display at the festival and activities are expected to increase every year. The sculptures are imitations of famous people or favorite characters and life-size installations that would wow just about anyone. This is an exciting event for everybody, with illuminated ice sculptures at night so you can enjoy admiring the arts at night under neon-lit light, and you can also get hot drinks to warm you up at the Ice Bar.
Hokkaido has more to offer than just this particular festival. While at it, you can also get a view of the city from Sapporo TV tower then get a chance to try local food and delicacies that conveniently all line up in the food court called “Food Plaza” just waiting for you to come and try. Sapporo’s treats are said to be so delicious that makes you forget the cold of this winter wonderland.
HOWEVER, Sapporo is considered the coldest part of Japan with the average temperature of -9C in winter months. So if you want to enjoy the fun in such harsh condition fully, please do not forget to keep yourself warm with layers of clothes or few cups of warm beverages 🙂
4. Kanamara “Penis” Festival (April 7th)
It first started in 1978; the festival used to have a much smaller amount of participants as well as a much quieter existence. Not until a few footages of people carrying a vast male-genital shaped structure down the road being uploaded on YouTube, both tourists in Japan and fellow foreigners abroad caught the attention of this exceptionally unique celebration. Up to now, we have approximately about 30,000 attendees at the event with curious foreign tourists taking up a significant portion of this number.
As reserved of a country like Japan, how could this festival was started you may wonder? Historically, Kanayama Shrine has long been known with an association with sex. It sanctifies two holy divinities who were the gods of blacksmithing and sex. Also during the Edo period, female prostitutes used to come to this shrine and pray to the hollies to protect themselves from any possible disease.
The main event is the parade with 3 Mikoshi (Portable shrine) that shaped accordingly to suit the theme of the celebration. The three mikoshi make their way down the street with the help of both locals and tourists, past the train station before returning to Kanayama Shrine. While it might seem like all for jokes and laugh, the meaning of this unusual celebration is unexpectedly meaningful to the past and the future. This is a traditional festival where the local come and pray for fertility, childbirth, and of course safe sex practices. The festival is also an excellent opportunity for the promotion of the LGBT+ community. One of the enormous pink mikoshi which is the one that receives most of the media attention was carried by members of the transgender community from Tokyo drag queen club Elizabeth Kaikan (as the mikoshi is called “Elizabeth”).
At the end of the festival, all the profit that is raised during the event goes towards supporting HIV and AIDS researching projects. That said, if you happen to take part in the festival, please don’t be surprised to see many go in colorful costumes wearing genital-shaped face masks, and phallic-shaped candles, key rings, and everything from the decorations to snacks, food are all in sync with the theme of the festival are sold around the shrine.
2-13-16 Daishiekimae, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa-ken
5. Guidable’s event: First Steps Into Japan
Hosted by one of the most reliable sources for international residents in Japan, Guidable Inc., First Step Into Japan would be a fantastic opportunity for whom stay, live and work in Japan to get to know about the country from their “sempai”(senior). This time Guidable invites you to our talk-show, friendly gathering to listen about the experience of living in Japan from 3 international residents who also happened to be Guidable interns, so they can also give you a scoop of how was it working for Guidable to help out people with the same struggles.
It is a great chance to get to know people, socialize and last by not least; you can expect the first, the only Guidable-presented Takoyaki making party where you can make your Takoyaki while making new friends 🙂
1 Chome-3-18, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo-to 107-0057, Japan.
What Major Events Will You Go to This Season in Japan?
There are a wide variety of events/festivals for just about anyone. A perfect fusion of traditional Japanese values and contemporary artistic perspectives, Japan is welcoming you with the excitement that you could never find somewhere else. Make sure you check out our recommendations and let us know how your experience was! We already knew it would be amazing!