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 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?


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")


4 Oct

Today we went to a small local festival.

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



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“).




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


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


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).




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.


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?


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