In the recent years, tourism in Japan has spiked and for good reason. With the upsurge in the availability of even affordable places to stay and the lifting of the usual visa strictness, now would be a good time to visit the lovely eastern country. Japan is a country rich with history and culture than spans several centuries. Luckily, this history is often celebrated with festivals. It is an experience unlike any other in any part of the world. Locally, there are over 300,000 traditional festivals that go on in an annual basis.
Let’s break down five of those 300,000 that has the capability to enrapture visitors and wholly captivate the senses.
This is one of the three great Shinto festivals in Tokyo. This started as a celebration of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s victory at the battle of Sekigahara. The current form of the festival is to honor the spirit of the Kanda Shrine. This festival is held on the Saturday and Sunday closest to the 15th of May. This is arguably one of the easier festivals to attend as it held in the Kanda district of Tokyo. Portable shrines called Mikoshi are joined by over thousands of people and a lengthy parade that reaches Nihonbashi and Akihabara.
Aomori Nebuta Festival
This is a summer festival that occurs in Aomori in the Aomori Prefecture. Considered to be one of the largest festivals in the Tohoku region, this celebration happens from August 2 to August 7 of every year so there are several days to choose to visit. One of the more visually striking festivals, Aomori Nebula has several brightly lit floats of brave warrior-like figures which are carried around the city while the carriers chant and dance around.
Tanabata is a quite beloved festival that happens at various days in between July and August in the city of Sendai in the Miyagi prefecture. One of the more romantic festivals, it surrounds the legend of two deities Orihime and Hikoboshi that can only meet once a year. The modern way of celebrating Tanabata involves people writing wishes, usually in some form of poetry, on small pieces of paper and hanging them on bamboo (Wish Trees). These trees are then set afloat on a river or burned after the festival.
Awa Odori (Awa Dance Festival)
On the 12th to the 15th of August, Awa Odori is held as part of the Obon Festival in Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku, Japan. This is the largest dance festival in Japan that brings in over 1.3 million tourists every year. Think of an enormous block party wherein men, women, and children dance in the streets. Summer Kimonos are the attire of choice if you ever want to join the festivities.
A one month long festival, this July festival has food fests, dance contests, and so many others. The highlights though are the grand processions that have giant floats called Yamaboko Junko. The floats are paraded on the 17th and the 24th of the month. Other than the fact that this is one of the more popular festivals in the year, the fact that it is held in the historic city of Kyoto means that there is so much more to see and experience.