Tag Archives: 祭り

Tokyo-jidai Matsuri

6 Nov

Last Sunday (November 3rd) was the Japanese holiday 「文化の日」 (Culture Day).

On this day, the Emperor of Japan presents awards to people who have contributed to Japanese culture.  And there are also many “culture related” festivals on this day, such as 「流鏑馬」 (Horseback Archery) shows and 「時代祭り」 (Era Festivals).

The 「東京時代祭り」 (Tokyo-era Festival) is in 浅草 (Asakusa, Tokyo) every year on November 3rd from about 1:00-4:00PM.

「東京時代祭り」 (Tokyo-era Festival)

We didn’t go to a festival on Culture Day this year because we’ve gone to them a few times before.

Click here to read my post that I wrote after I went to this festival five years ago. It has photos and videos.

Summer Festivals

29 Aug

Earlier this month, I participated in one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals.
(Click here to read that post.)

There are many great festivals all year round…but especially so in the summer.
(Click here to see a list I made of some of Tokyo’s best festivals.)

I like Japan’s festivals a lot…and I go to many of them.

In early August, my family and I went to watch a summer 花火大会 (fireworks show) near our house that we usually go to every year.
The 花火大会 (fireworks shows) in Japan are excellent! If you have a chance, you should see one!
(Here is a list of some of Tokyo’s biggest fireworks shows.)

It’s not easy to photograph fireworks with the camera I have…but here are a few that I took:

花火 (“hanabi”)…literally “flower (of) fire”, is the Japanese word for “fireworks”.

We also went to a festival at a temple not far from the Tokyo Sky Tree.

After that, we went to 上野公園 (Ueno Park):

(Click here to see some other photos I took in Ueno a couple of years ago.)

If you have any questions about festivals in Tokyo, things to do in this city, or whatever…feel free to contact me.

Water-throwing Festival

20 Aug

I am a member of group that carries a two-ton 神輿 (portable shrine) every three years in the 深川八幡祭り (Fukagawa-Hachiman Festival).

This festival occurs in Tokyo on the third weekend of August. The festival is held every year…but the big, main festival is only every three years.

It was last held in August 2008 and was due again in August 2011 (last year)…but after the 2011 March 11th earthquake in the Tohoku area of Japan, the 2011 festival was postponed a year.

So, it was held eight days ago (on 2012 August 12th) and will be next held in 2015.

In 2008, I wrote a post about the festival with many photos and videos that my wife took. (Click here to read it.)

Anyways, this festival is nicknamed the 「水掛け祭り」 (“Water-tossing Festival”) because all along the 6km (3.8 mile) course, people vigorously throw water on the people carrying the portable shrines.


Also, the Tokyo Volunteer Fire Department sprayed us with fire hoses!

When we “carry” the 神輿(portable shrines), we don’t simply “carry” them…the teams often turns them around and around…and also toss them up and catch them!

From start to finish, it’s a ten-hour day! I was very sore and tired the next day…but it was fun.

One big thing that made this year’s different from previous years was that a team from the earthquake-stricken area of Tohoku joined the festival…and the Emperor and Empress of Japan came to watch!

The 神輿 (portable shrine) from the earthquake stricken area of Tohoku, Japan.

The Emperor and Empress of Japan (天皇皇后両陛下) at the festival! 

The Emperor and Empress of Japan (天皇皇后両陛下).

Were you one of the estimated 50,000 spectators at this festival? Were you, like me, one of the 3,000 participants?


Does your country have a festival anything like this?

What are your country’s summer traditions?

10 Jul

Summer in Japan is very 蒸し暑い (“muggy” / hot and humid).

“Beware of heat stroke in the hot summer!”

Florida, where I grew up, is also hot and humid during the summer. But, unlike Japan, I don’t recall any particular traditions of summer in Florida…other than going to the beach or water-slide parks.

Japanese people like to celebrate the uniqueness of the seasons of the year. There are traditions in autumn, winter, spring and summer in Japan.

A few of Japan’s summer traditions are:

Summer festivals and fireworks shows.
Japan has 祭り (festivals) all year round…but there’s an abundance of them in the summer. And in late July to early August, there are many excellent 花火大会 (fireworks shows).
Click here to see my listing of summer festivals in the Tokyo area.

● スイカ割り (“Watermelon smashing”)


This is a Japanese summertime tradition that is similar to Mexico’s piñata. In both traditions, people take turns being blindfolded and try to hit the target with a stick, but in Mexico, the target is a kind of paper doll filled with candy that gets hit until it breaks open, Japan’s スイカ割り (“Watermelon smashing”) has a watermelon as the target. Once the watermelon gets hit and breaks open, everyone enjoys eating it.

● アナゴ (freshwater eel)
Eating eel is believed to give stamina to survive the grueling summer heat.
Click here to read a post that I wrote about it.

蝉 (Cicadas)
Every summer the 蝉 (cicadas) can be heard chirping in Japan. It’s considered one of the sounds of summer.
I wrote this post about the cicada in Japan.

● かき氷 (Shaved ice)

Eating shaved ice with a sweet syrup flavoring is a popular way to people to stay cool in the summer in Japan.
If you want to buy a  かき氷 (Shaved ice) in Japan, you can find them when you see a flag or poster that looks like this:

The character is 「氷」 and means “ice”

● ビアガーデン (“Beer garden”)

In the summertime, many places in Japan offer space to drink beer outdoors (and often on the building’s roof) in the cool night breeze.
Some places offer an “all-you-drink” (within a time limit) special.

●Pools and beaches

Of course, swimming is popular in the summertime in Japan just as it is in Florida.
Pools and beaches in Japan have lifeguards on duty and very few are open year-round.
Most of them are opening around now. Toshimaen, an excellent amusement park / waterslide park / pool in Tokyo opened on weekends only beginning July 2nd this year and will be open everyday from July 16th until September 4th.

What types of traditions does your country have in the summer?

Mitama-祭り

17 Jul

Every year from July 13 – 16 the 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) has their annual O-bon festival called 「ミタマ祭り」 (“Mitama Festival“).

We go to this festival nearly every year.

(Click here to see my post about last year’s festival with a number of photos I took.

And click here to see my post from 2008 about that year’s festival…with some videos I took and a slide-show of my photos.)

We went to this festival yesterday (Friday, July 16). It was the weekend and the last day of the festival so it was especially crowded. So I wasn’t able to take many nice photos.

Here are some of the photos I took there yesterday:

金魚すくい ("Goldfish Scooping")

スイカ祭り

1 Jul

At the DECKS shopping area in お台場 (Odaiba, Tokyo), they’re currently having a 「すいか祭り」 (“watermelon festival“) until 2010 July 19.

They’re selling all types of food, drinks and desserts made with スイカ (watermelon).

A great way to cool down from the summer heat in Tokyo!

日本の夏

18 Jun

It’s now summertime.

Currently it’s 「梅雨」 (“Rainy season“) in Japan. As usual for this time of year, it’s forecast to rain a lot for the next few days.
But also, the temperature is rising steadily and it’s quite humid. Today it was a muggy 31°C (88°F) in Tokyo.

Summer is hot and humid here…but it’s still very enjoyable. There’s so much to do.
Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer are all very different in Japan. Of course the weather is different…but I mean the food, festivals, and general atmosphere is different and unique to each season.

In a couple of earlier posts I mentioned that fast-food chains in Japan have spicy items on their menus  (Click here to read one of those posts)…but fast-food isn’t a traditional Japanese summer tradition of course, and actually their spicy summer foods aren’t extremely popular in Japan (I haven’t even tried any of them).

There are traditional foods that are very popular in Japan during the summer to help you deal with the summer heat.
Some of them are:

冷やし中華 (“Hiyashi Chuuka“). Cold noodles, cucumbers, ham, tomatoes, and cold soy sauce.

スイカ (watermelon)

かき氷 (shaved ice)

ビール (beer)…Popular all year long, of course. But excellent to help you cool down in the summer.

うな丼 (Freshwater eel on rice). This is said to help keep up your stamina in hot weather.

うな丼 (Freshwater eel on rice). I enjoy this dish a lot!

Some other aspects of summer in Japan include:

– the beaches and pools become crowded. Especially in August.

– the numerous summer festivals including 花火 (summer fireworks shows).

insects. The “sound of summer” in Japan is the chirping of the セミ (cicadas). There are also カブト虫 (beetles)…and, unfortunately, ゴキブリ (cockroaches) and (mosquitoes).

蚊取線香 (mosquito repellent incense).

蚊取線香 (mosquito repellent incense) often is shaped like a pig

To stay cool, there’s also ウチワ and 扇子 (types of paper fans), and ジンベイ and ユカタ (traditional Japanese summer clothing).

This isn’t an all-exclusive description of a summer in Japan, of course. It’s difficult to describe…you should come to Japan in each of the seasons and see “four different Japans”.

What’s summer like in your country?