12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

Jul 20, 2017


Do you know there are festivals each month in Japan? People say God will appear when a festival begin and God moves to other areas from time to time. Festival means preparing to welcome God, bringing God to a shrine and see God off for the next festival. The reason why Japanese people have festivals in day time is due to the welcoming of a divine entity when the night comes. To say it simply it’s a, “Welcome party for God”

Here are 12 festivals you can enjoy in different regions of Japan all throughout the year:

 

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

 

 

1.  January “Mukonage & Suminuri” in Niigata

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

 

This is the festival that people throw a groom married for a year unto the grounds from a shrine precinct which is about 5m high. People also put ink on the face of each couple as a sign of “Congratulations!” wishing them to have a happy marriage and the state of perfect health.

 

□ “Mukonage” means groom
□ “Suminuri” means to put ink

 

Access to Niigata:
About 2 hours by Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Niigata Station.

 

2.  February “Yuki Matsuri” in Sapporo

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

This is the most famous festival throughout the world and the symbol of Sapporo. People make famous architectures, popular dramas, etc. all by real ice. You can enjoy the illumination in night time as well with eating food or drinks were you can buy from the stand stall in this area.

 

□ “Yuki Matsuri” means snow festival

 

Access to Sapporo(Hokkaido):
About 1 hour and 30 min by airplane from Tokyo International Airport(Tokyo) to New Chitose Airport(Sapporo)

 

 

3.  March “Awashimajinjya Hinanagashi” in Wakayama

 

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

 

People float Hina Ningyo Dolls on a river to have the power to drive away and clean the impurities around. Dolls are not paper-made but real dolls.

□ “Awashima Jinjya” means Awashima Shrine
□ “Hinanagashi” means flow Hina Ningyo Dolls on a river

 

Access to Wakayama:
About 4 hours by Shinkansen and local train from Tokyo Station to Wakayama Station.

 

4.  April “Tejikarano Himatsuri” in Gifu

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

 

This festival is held from more than 300 years ago. People carry an omikoshi on their shoulders with big arm-held fireworks through bunch of firecrackers. They have the risk of fire burns but this festival’s purpose is a trial to test a men’s courage.

□ “Tejikarano” means arm strength
□ “Himatsuri” means fire festival

 

Access to Gifu:
About 2 hours and 15 min by Shinkansen and local train from Tokyo Station to Gifu Station.

 

5. May “Hakata Dontaku” in Fukuoka

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

 

This festival is originally made to celebrate New Year among people from Hakata. The name “Dontaku” is  an original word from “Zontag” which means holiday in Dutch. You can see how similar the both pronunciation is.

 

□ “Hakata” is the place in Fukuoka
□ “Dontaku” means holiday

 

Access to Hakata (Fukuoka):
About 2 hours by airplane and local train from Tokyo International Airport(Tokyo) to Hakata Station.

 

6.  June “Aizen Matsuri” in Osaka

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

Shotoku Taishi made this festival in the year of 593 and people say this is the oldest summer festival in Japan.
This festival means yukata festival and people carry the woman who is wearing a yukata in wickerwork basket.
This habit came originally from geisha which used to visit their family’s graves in the old days.

 

□ “Aizen” means God of matchmaking
□ “Matsuri” means festival

 

Access to Osaka:
About 3 hours by Shinkansen and local train from Tokyo Station to Osaka Station.

 

7.  July “Gion Matsuri” in Kyoto

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

 

Gion festival was birthed in the year of 869 and about 1,100 years passed until now, people still pray for good heath in this festival. You can also enjoy the big gorgeous parade.

 

□ “Gion” is the place of Kyoto
□ “Matsuri” means festival

 

Access to Kyoto:
About 2 hours and 15 min by Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Kyoto Station.

 

8.  August “Nebuta Matsuri” in Aomori

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

 

This is the festival to avoid sleepiness. Japanese festival car carries a giant paper-made doll and people jump and dance around this car. This paper-made doll cost about 20 million yen with 3 months to finish it up. You will be amazed with their impressive performance.

 

□ “Nebuta” means sleepiness
□ “Matsuri” means festival

 

Access to Aomori:
About 1 hour and 15 min by airplane from Tokyo International Airport(Tokyo) to Aomori Airport.

 

9.  September “Ettchu Owarakaze no Bon” in Toyama

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

 

This is the festival where people dance every year praying for a good harvest and protection from the typhoon season.

 

□ “Ettchu” means Toyama
□ “Owarakaze no Bon” means the breeze of smile in Obon

Access to Toyama:
About 2 hours and 15 min from Tokyo Station to Toyama Station.

 

10.  October “Nagasaki Kunchi” in Nagasaki

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

 

This festival’s purpose is to have a unique and dynamic and dedicated dance ritual. You can see a huge dragon of mikoshi during the festival.

 

□ “Nagasaki” is one of the place in Kyushu
□ “Kunchi” means the 9th by Kyushu dialect

 

Access to Nagasaki:
About 2 hours from Tokyo International Airport(Tokyo) to Nagasaki Airport.

 

 

11.  November “Torinoichi” in Tokyo

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

 

Every year in November, you can see this on TV and newspaper. This is a famous festival wishing for prosperous business and “Engi-Kumade decorated with lucky charms are very popular souvenirs to buy from the stalls.

 

□ “Torinoichi” means the year of rooster of Japanese zodiac

 

Access to Tokyo:
If you’re living in Tokyo city, use only local train with few min.

 

12.  December “Chichibuyo Matsuri” in Saitama

12 Festivals You Can Enjoy All the Year Round in Japan

 

This festival had started more than 300 years ago in Edo Period. The popular point of this festival is you can enjoy looking at festival caravan and fireworks at the same time. This festival is wishing for an economic development and progress.

 

□ “Chihibuyo” means the night of Chichibu city
□ “Matsuri” means festival

 

Access to Saitama:
About 1 hour and 40min by local trains from Tokyo Station to Chichibu Station in Saitama.

 

As you can see, there are festivals for each month in Japan. There is reason for each festival, so it might be interesting to have short trip to see and learn about the Japanese traditional festivals.

 

 

YAE/Japan

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