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Matsuri attract not only adults, but teenagers and university students who are looking for a fun night out with their friends. It’s also a good time to start relationships and a great time for sightseers to experience Japanese culture.
I’m going to introduce some up-coming Japanese Matsuri, which also means ‘festival’ in Japanese by the way, including some traditional Japanese events.
Nebuta Matsuri, an annual matsuri held on August 2nd to 7th in Aomori prefecture, has been listed as one of the three biggest festivals of Tohoku region. It was founded in the 15th century and its character-filled floats painted men’s face, called ‘nebuta’, look like demons and humans mixed together.
Their looks demonic anger are moved throughout the city on floats and at the same time, dancers, called haneto, dance and yell to encourage crowds to get into the spirit. Audiences also wear special clothing for this matsuri, a mix of traditional and colourful pieces. When combined, all of these elements have the power to enthuse audiences and make atmosphere much hotter. Speaking of, you can watch fire works on the last day.
People who participate in any matsuri mostly coordinate specially depending on which parts of the events such as audiences wear Japanese traditional clothing called yukata, carrier of a float wear happi and so on.
People who participate in any Matsuri coordinate their clothes to match the occasion, so you’ll see people wearing traditional ‘yukata’ and float carriers will wear ‘happi’.
Sendai Tanabata Matsuri, held on August 6th to 8th in Miyagi prefecture, is one of the other large festivals in the Tohoku region. Tanabata is a day when people write down what they desire most on strips of fancy paper. Many are decorated and placed about in Sendai, and there’s also a huge fireworkds display ahead of the Matsuri on August 5th.
Awa odori, held on August 12 to 15 in Tokushima prefecture, is a popular Bon festival and it’s well known for its dancing parades. Additionally, many kinds of instruments are used for the dance such as a kane, which can help lead the rhythm of dance and also can change the tempo. Large drums make the dance exciting, small drums, which make rhythmical and high tone sound, get dancers dancing and bamboo flutes help bring in a melodic, clear sound.
Tenjin matsuri, held every end of June to July 25th in Osaka, is one of the other large festivals in Japan and dates back to the 10th century. Even though this annual festival is held for almost a month, most go there just the last day to watch huge fire works, but also there are some huge events such as parades where people carry floats and so on.
You can also enjoy watching the boats dedicated to spirits and gods float during the festival. There are also many street food stalls around, so you can enjoy delicacies like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and other local specialties.
Fire works festival at Sumida River is held every end of July in Tokyo along the Sumida river. It’s also the oldest fire works festival in Japan founded in the 18th century. It’s well known for the beauty of its pyrotechnic display, but also because there are over 20,000 fireworks shot into the sky.
On the 15th, 16th and 17th of July are by far the most exciting part of this festival as people watch large decorated floats roll along the Kyoto city streets. During the three days, the streets are filled with food stalls and little shops for buying souvenirs.
Simultaneously, you can take a deeper look around places like the Kamo river, Ponto Town, and Yuka where there are patios for eating Kyoto food beside the river. It’s a place located right near to the main festivities at Gion Matsuri, so it’s a good place to watch the fireworks from.
I reckon those who are thinking of going to Japan this summer should try to experience all kinds of Matsuri that are going on.
It’s certainly more fabulous than normal sightseeing in Japan, but don’t forget to drink lots of water. It will be humid and pretty hot over there in the huge crowds.
Featured image courtesy: Yuya Saito