Aug 9, 2017
Fun in the Sun - Japanese Summer festivals
Summer is the hottest and sunniest season in Japan. It is also the season of many nice festivals around the whole country. Summer festivals are always a lot of fun, especially if you are wearing a yukata. Here are some of my summer festival recommendations, which you shouldn't miss:
• Bon Odori
Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the ancestors. Depending on the area Obon is celebrated in the middle of July or August. The Kanto region (Tokyo, Kanagawa..) is celebrating Obon around the 15 th August. There are many traditions for that day. One is to put a small fire in front of the house entrance to show the ancestors the way. However, the most popular tradition is the Bon Odori Dance. There are big Bon Odori festivals like the Hibiya festival in Tokyo but also many small ones in every neighborhood. Each region has its own dance style and different music. At a typical Bon Odori people are lining up in a circle around a high wooden scaffold. Musicians and singers are performing on that scaffold. When the music starts people will dance around the scaffold. Many people are wearing yukata, which gives that event a great traditional feeling. Even if you don´t know the dances you are always welcome to join and do what the others do.
• Lantern festival
The lantern festival is a very romantic, small event celebrated at the end of July or in August. A famous one is held in the Chiyoda ward in Tokyo close to the Imperial Palace. For that event it is possible to rent a small rowboat at the nearby boathouse. Unfortunately this is very popular and only a few boats are allowed on the canal, that's why you have to make a reservation very early. If you have the chance to get a boat, you will also get a floating lantern, where you can write a wish on it. When the event starts everybody will put the small lantern on the water. It is a very beautiful scene to see so many floating lanterns on the canal. Also there is often some live music in the background. If you want to go on a romantic date, this event is the perfect chance.
Tanabata is celebrated on the 7th of July or 7th of August depending on the region.
Tanabata is the beautiful story of the two stars Wega and Altair which are meeting in the sky. According to a Chinese tradition these stars represent a pair of lovers, separated all year round by the Milky Way. Only on Tanabata are they able to meet each other.
On the evening before the 7th of July/August, bamboo trees are put up, on which notes are hung with desires in the hope that these will be fulfilled. One of the biggest Tanabata festivals is celebrated in Hiratsuka south of Kanagawa.
•The three great Shinto festivals of Tokyo
The Sanno, Kanda and Fukagawa festivals are the three biggest festivals in Tokyo. The festival season starts with the Kanda festival which is the weekend close to the 15th of May. But watch out! It is held only on odd numbered years. The festival takes places around the Kanda Shrine and the main attraction is the parade with 200 mikoshi incl. musicians and dancers.
The Sanno Festival is held in June in every even numbered year only. The festival is held for one week in the Chiyoda area with many activities and also a parade.
The Fukagawa Festival is held every three years in mid August at the Tomioka Hachiman Shrine around Monzen Nakacho Station. The festival has a great parade on the Sunday where many mikoshi will be carried around. The parade is very popular for the spattering with water on the mikoshi.
I´m a german girl living in the center of Tokyo. I love traveling (especially hiking), taking photos and handcraft.