What are omatsuri, Japanese festivals like? Each festival has each meaning, which is closely related to religious events.
Explaining Japanese Festivals, Omatsuri
In Japan, Shinto, an indigenous religion has shrines to deify each god for each one. Shinto is based on the idea of “Yao-yorozu-no-Kami” which means 8 millions of Gods. In other words, Polytheism has been deeply rooted in Japan. Since each shrine deifies each god, we have numerous festivals all over Japan. Every shrine has at least three main festivals every year: Kinenn-Sai is taken place in early spring wishing for a good harvest, Nii-name-Sai is in November thanking to a good harvest, and Rei-tai-Sai is taken place on a memorable day for each shrine.
The most familiar festival for Japanese is Rei-tai-Sai generally called Omatsuri because we are “allowed” to cut loose and have fun by “Gods” during the days. In Shinto, it is thought that Gods will be pleased and enhance their power to see people enjoy themselves in festivals.
Enjoyments for Japanese at festivals
It is quite interesting to find that there are a lot of Japanese pop songs as well as Enn-ka (Japanese ballad) about festivals. The memories of Omatsuri are generally sweet and beautiful especially for teenagers in Japan. For school boys and girls, it is one of the most important concerns whom they go to Omatsuri with as well as fireworks exhibitions.
Accompanied by religious rituals, some people open street stalls near each shrine during the days of rituals’ being taken place. Interestingly, we put much more importance on stalls than rituals for festivals. Most Japanese feel excited about walking around those stalls.
Preparation to Have a successful Omatsuri Trip
#1: Make an appointment with your friends, family, or boyfriend/girlfriend.
#2: Buy Yukata at a clothing shop, borrow one from your friends, or make a reservation for rental service in advance. You can purchase Yukata in the internet shops at reasonable prices, however, you had better choose your first Yukata by comparing different colors, patterns and textures directly. Recommended shops are Uniqlo-Qlo, Shimamura, Ito-Yokado, or AEON. You can check the latest Yukata information by the following URLs.
#3: Ask for your friend’s help with practicing to wear Yukata and hair setting which goes well with you in Yukata. For women, upsweep-hair is suitable for Yukata as well as for Kimono. If you use a rental service, the charge for hair setting will be included.
#4 (On the day of the festival):
Make sure you have plenty of time in getting ready for your “Omatsuri debut.” As you may know, Japanese people are punctual.
Women’s Yukata rental (in Shizuoka)
Family’s Yukata rental (in Tokyo)
***English & Chinese are available***
Recommended Festival Food
The greatest pleasure for Omatsuri is enjoying unique food of itself. Here are the top 6 food you should try.
#1: Takoyaki: Octopus dumplings
#2: Yakitori: Grilled meat skewers
#3: Okonomi-Yaki: Japanese pancake
#4: Kaki-Go-o-ri: Shaved ice topped with flavored syrup
#5: Choco-banana: Chocolate-covered banana
#6: Ichigo-Ame: strawberry candy
Recommended Festival Attractions
You can also enjoy the following attractions.
#1: Kingyo-Sukui: GoldfishGolden fish scooping
#2: Shateki: Shooting game
Omatsuri Master: How to be an Expert in Japanese Festivals
#1: Consult your “tummy” frequently if it can afford to accept any more food.
#2: Take a digital camera or make sure the battery of the camera is fully charged full. Your camera also needs to have a strap to be put around your neck otherwise you will be excited enough to drop a camera off your hands.
#3: Be careful not to bump into anybody else on the way: some might be drunk, or some might be scary people who like to fight.
#4: Keep your eyes on your purse in order not to have it stolen: some people watch for a chance.
Now, you have no worries about “Omatsuri trip.” Take it easy, and enjoy yourself to show “Yao-yorozu-no-kami” to please them at festivals!