Tag Archives: 祭

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.

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.
Actually when I was a teenager in Florida, my friends and I couldn’t get enough of the beach. But, it wasn’t actually the “beach” that we were interested in…we would’ve went to the library—if it was full of girls in bikinis!

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")

秋祭

4 Oct

Today we went to a small local festival.

We enjoyed great Japanese festival foods such as fish, soup…and beer! :)

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From there we went to a nearby shopping center.
Among the other stores we went into, we played a few games in the ゲーム・センター (video game arcade).

This "UFO Catcher" (crane game) has ice cream.

This "UFO Catcher" (crane game) has ice cream.

This one has potato chips.

This one has potato chips.

This is a タイコ (Japanese drum) drumming game.

This is a タイコ (Japanese drum) drumming game.

Nezu Shrine Festival

21 Sep

Today is the Japanese holiday 「敬老の日」 (“Respect For The Aged Day“).
Click here to read my short FAQ about it.

Yesterday my family and I went to the 「根津神社祭り」 (“Nezu Shrine Festival“).

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From there, we stopped by the gravesite of Japan’s last 将軍 (Shogun), 徳川慶喜 (Yoshinobu Tokugawa).

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After that, we got dinner at an 居酒屋 (Japanese izakaya restaurant) and then went home.
It was a fun day together.

2009年夏の「みたままつり」

14 Jul

Yesterday (2009 July 13), we went to the first day of the 2009 「みたま祭」 (Mitama Festival).

This year this festival is from Monday, July 13 until Thursday, July 16. So, if you’re currently in the Tokyo area you can go to this festival. It’s at the 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine).

靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) is where Japan enshrines all who have died in battle defending Japan. I wrote a bit about it in another post…click here.

We have been to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) many times, and we go to the 「みたま祭」 (Mitama Festival) nearly every year.
I wrote a post about this festival last year…click here to see it. That post has videos and a slideshow of photos.

In the summertime in Japan, there are many Obon festivals…which are festivals to honor the deceased. And, as I wrote above, 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) is Japan’s shrine for the war-dead. So the 「みたま祭」 (Mitama Festival) is a festival to honor the war-dead.

They were heading to the festival.

They were heading to the festival.

They say: "Mitama Festival, July 13-16. Yasukuni Shrine"

They say: "Mitama Festival, July 13-16. Yasukuni Shrine"

At the festival many people wear ゆかた and じんべい (Japanese traditional summer outfits).

At the festival many people wear ゆかた and じんべい (Japanese traditional summer outfits).

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At many summer festivals in Japan, there are haunted house attractions. These have been popular at summer festivals since long ago in Japan because it’s said that the chills from the fright help cool you off in the summer heat. (Horror movies are also popular in the summertime in Japan for the same reason).

Here’s the outside of the Haunted House attraction at 「みたま祭」 (Mitama Festival):

「ろくろ首」 ("Long neck Geisha Ghost") is a old traditional ghost story.

「ろくろ首」 ("Long neck Geisha Ghost") is a old traditional ghost story.

As usual, we had a good time at the 「みたま祭」 (Mitama Festival) even though it was a hot day. We had 焼きそば (Grilled Noodles) and beer, watched the ねぶた (Nebuta) float parade, and our kids played festival stall games.

Seventh Evening

7 Jul

Today is 七夕 (Tanabata)…which translates to something like “Seventh evening“.

You can read a little bit about this holiday on my website’s FAQ page.

This holiday came to Japan from China and falls on the seventh day of the seventh month…July 7 on the Western calendar (which Japan uses now), or in late August if you use the Chinese calendar.

Most of Japan celebrates this holiday on July 7…but some cities celebrate it on the date according to the Chinese calendar.

Basically, the story of 七夕 (Tanabata) is that there are a couple of stars on different sides of the sky and they are a couple in love…and the only day in the year that these two stars are near each other is on the seventh day of the seventh month.
So, on this day the couple’s wish comes true and they can be together…for an evening.

For this reason, 七夕 (Tanabata) is sometimes called “The Star Festival“.

I’m not sure how 七夕 (Tanabata) is celebrated in China, but here in Japan people write a wish on a piece of paper and tie it to a bamboo tree (along with other 七夕 (Tanabata) decorations).
And just like the couple’s wish comes true…if you tie your wish to the tree, it’ll come true too.

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There are also 七夕 (Tanabata) festivals all around Japan…some on July 7 and some in August.

The biggest 七夕 (Tanabata) festival on July 7 is in Kanagawa, south of Tokyo.
And the biggest one in August (this year (2009), it’ll be on August 26) is in Sendai.

I have been to the 七夕 (Tanabata) festival near my house a number of times…but I didn’t go this year.

Have you ever been to a 七夕 (Tanabata) festival?
Did you tie your wish to a bamboo tree branch today?

ハナショウブ

7 Jun

Today we went to a 「花菖蒲祭」 (Japanese Iris flower festival).

It was near our house, so we rode our bicycles there. On the way, we stopped by a store and bought some 弁当 (Japanese bento lunches) and had a picnic among all the purple flowers.

It had been raining for the past couple of days, but today was a beautiful day…and the temperature was 28°C (82.4°F). It’s becoming summer. Before long, it will be extremely hot in Tokyo!

shobu

Japanese Festivals in America

12 May

It seems that there are a number of Japanese festivals in America at various times of the year and in various cities around America.

I’d like to attend a Japanese festival in America and see how similar or different it is from a real Japanese festival!

Have you ever been to a Japanese festival in America (or another country)? How was it?

I found information online about a few Japanese festivals in different U.S. cities:

  • Japan Fest, Atlanta (Georgia, USA)

    japan-fest-atlanta

    2009年9月19日(土曜日)から9月20日(日曜日)まで。 (Saturday, 19 September 2009 – Sunday. 20 September).

    All of the Japanese festivals in America that I found online have already finished this year…except this one.
    If you’re in Atlanta, Georgia USA this September 19 -20, you should consider checking out this festival.

    They have scheduled martial arts shows, 盆栽 (bonsai), 生花 (ikebana), アニメ (anime), Japanese food, etc.

  • The Japan-America Society Of Houston (Texas, USA)

    houston-japan

    This festival was held in Texas, USA on 2009年4月25日から4月26日まで。 (2009 April 25-26).

    Do you go to it?

  • National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington D.C. (USA)

    japan-dc

    This year’s festival in Washington D.C. was held on 2009年3月28日から4月12日まで。 (2009 March 28 – April 12).

    Next year’s will be 2010年3月27日から4月11日まで。 (2010 March 27 – April 11).

    Did you go to this festival? Are you planning to go next year?

    I heard about this festival on the TV news here in Japan because Jero performed at it this year (I wrote a post about it last March. Click here to read it).

  • Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia (USA)

    philly-japan

    This year’s festival was on 2009年4月5日。 (2009 April 5).

There are many international festivals in Tokyo…

But I never knew there were so many Japanese festivals in America before. When I lived in America, I never heard about any Japan festivals. Are they a fairly recent* occurence? (* by recent, I mean since 1990.)
Is it because there’s currently a “Japan boom” in America?
Have you been to a Japan festival?

神田祭り

11 May

As I mentioned in the previous post (Click here to see it), for 母の日 (Mothers Day) yesterday my wife and I went on a date and then our daughters prepared a delicious カレーライス (Curry & Rice) dinner!

It was a very nice day.

For our date, my wife and I first stopped by the 神田祭り (Kanda Festival). (Click here to see my short mention about this festival on my Festivals In Tokyo page).

The 神田祭り (Kanda Festival) is one of the three biggest festivals in Tokyo.

From there we went to 吉祥寺 (Kichijouji) in western Tokyo and looked around there.
We had a late lunch at the very popular 「いせや」 (Iseya) restaurant.
This restaurant is famous for it’s やきとり (skewered chicken). It’s not a fancy-type restaurant like those in 表参道 (Omotesandou, Tokyo) or 六本木ヒルズ (Roppongi Hills)…it’s a blue-collar kind of place.
But the food is very good but not expensive…so they have many customers. (Actually, I feel more comfortable in working class type places than in five star restaurants. It’s my style.)

We had a good food…and a few beers. :)

After lunch, we looked around some more…then we went home to enjoy the wonderful dinner that my daughters made for Mothers Day!

It was a very nice day.

Here are some photos from the 神田祭り (Kanda Festival):

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Making カルメ焼 ("Karume-yaki")

Making カルメ焼 ("Karume-yaki")

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