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10 Popular Japanese Festivals

Matsuri are traditional Japanese festivals and each of them has a long history. The date and nature of
each festival are different from community to community. Matsuris are powerful, energetic, exciting
and enjoyable - everybody is always welcome to participate.
In Japan, there are more than 300,000 traditional "matsuri", which means festival in Japanese, and
they are very different from area to area. Normally, a matsuri is sponsored by a local shrine or temple
and is organized by the local community. People wear a typical matsuri costume and carry a heavy
Mikoshi, which is a portable shrine around the street, hoping it can bless the town and people.
Matsuri sometimes refers to an event held in a local area. It could be a dancing performance or an
artistic competition, such as Yuki matsuri (Hokkaido), or Yosakoi matsuri (Kochi).
The following are 10 very popular matsuri in Japan and if you can attend, you will be amazed by the
participants' power and passion!

1. Gion Matsuri (Kyoto)

Gion Matsuri is a one of the most famous

festivals in Japan. It takes place during the
entire month of July, but the highlight is the
grand procession of floats called "Yamaboko
Junko" on the 17th and 24th. It takes place on
the Kawaramachi and Oike Streets.

2. Awa Odori (Tokushima)

This is the largest traditional dance festival in

Japan. Men, women and children dance on
almost all of the streets in Tokushima City, from
the 12th to the 15th of August. They wear
summer cotton kimono and straw hats. More
than a million people get together for this
festival, and it is a spectacular sight. You can
even join them to dance with the rhythmic
3. Kanda Matsuri (Tokyo)

Kanda Matsuri is one of the most famous

festivals in Tokyo and is a festival for the
Kanda Myojin Shrine. The main action
happens during the middle of May. The
portable shrines, called Mikoshi,
are accompanied by about a thousand people,
and after they leave the Kanda Myojin Shrine
in the morning, the parade continues through
the Kanda district, Nihonbashi and Akihabara
and returns to the shrine in the evening.

10 Strange Japanese Festivals

Japan has gained a lot of attention around the world thanks to its unique customs and culture.
Here are some traditional festivals that are weird even for Japan.

4. Yuki Matsuri, Snow Festival (Sapporo)

Sapporo's Yuki Matsuri takes place in

February. The origin of this festival was six
snow statues built by local high school
students in 1950, and now it has become an
international contest of gigantic snow
5. Nebuta Matsuri (Aomori)

The Nebuta Matsuri takes place from the 2nd

to the 7th of August in Aomori City. Nebuta are
lantern floats which depict human figures and
are accompanied by thousands of chanting
dancers. The parade starts at sunset and
continues for hours.

6. Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri (Kishiwada, Osaka)

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri takes place in

Kishiwada City, Osaka, during the middle of
September. Danjiri are wooden floats, many of
which are heavier than 3000 kg. The Kishiwada
Danjiri Matsuri is one of the most thrilling
festivals in Japan. People pull their huge floats
at breakneck speeds, with the team leaders
hopping and dancing on top of the floats.
7. Tenjin Matsuri (Osaka)

Tenjin Matsuri is a festival supported by the

Tenmangu Shrine in Osaka, and is held on
the 24th and the 25th of July. The highlights
are on the second day with both a land
procession and a river procession. At the river
procession, the illuminated boats reflect off
the river the fireworks go off in the sky.

10 Must-See Traditional Events and Festivals in Kyoto

In the ancient capital Kyoto, the traditional events and festivals have been passed down to people
and held for over one thousand years. Every time you visit Kyoto, you will have different impression
because there are four seasons in Japan. Let me introduce 10 must-see Japanese traditional events
and festivals in Kyoto.

8. Kochi Yosakoi Matsuri (Kochi)

Kochi Yosakoi festival began in 1954 after

local people created the Yosakoi Naruko
Dance. The dance is based on their old folk
song, called "Yosakoi Bushi." People dance
passionately with the uptempo music,
carrying clappers called "Naruko" which make
a click-clack sound. It takes place during the
middle of August.
9. Tanabata Matsuri (Sendai, Miyagi)

Tanabata Matsuri takes place from the 6th to

the 8th of August in Sendai City, Miyagi. It is a
festival based on the Chinese legend about
two stars, Altair and Vega. You will find
thousands of huge colourful paper decorations
hanging in the streets.

10. Hakata Dontaku Matsuri (Fukuoka)

Hakata Dontaku Matsuri is held on the 3rd

and the 4th of May in Fukuoka City. People
dance and parade through the streets with
wooden "Shamoji," which is a utensil used for
serving rice. It is also called Hakata Dontaku
Port Festival because there are lots of events
held around the Hakata Port.
10 Top Tourist Attractions in Japan
Japan is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. It is a unique blend of
traditional and modern, with many temples and buildings from the past co-existing with
modern achievements in architecture and technology. Visitors can be immersed in Japanese
history and culture one day and get a glimpse of the future through technological
developments the next.

Almost all of the historical sites are still used for their original purposes while remaining open
to the public. The natural beauty of Japan can be seen all year. In addition, Japan has one of
the world’s lowest crime rates which makes it ideal for travelers. An overview of the
top tourist attractions in Japan:

10. Hiroshima Peace Memorial

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is a

haunting tribute to the lives lost when
the atomic bomb was dropped on
Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Set in a
park, the memorial features Genbaku
Dome, the only building left standing in
the vicinity after the bomb dropped.
This harsh reminder of a world at war
reminds visitors of the importance of
human life and honors the victims so
they will never be forgotten.

9. Jigokudani Monkey Park

Jigokudani Monkey Park is a famous
hot spring area near Nagano,. The
name Jigokudani (meaning “Hell’s
Valley”), is due to steam and boiling
water that bubbles out the frozen
ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and
formidably cold forests. It is famous for
its large population of wild Snow
Monkeys that go to the valley during the
winter when snow covers the park. The
monkeys descend from the steep cliffs
and forest to sit in the warm hot springs,
and return to the security of the forests
in the evenings.
5 Best Day Trips in Japan
8. Kiyomizu-dera

The Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist temple is

located in Eastern Kyoto and can be
traced back as far as the year 798. An
indoor waterfall fed from the outside
river keeps the temple in harmony with
nature and not one nail was used in
construction. While locals used to jump
off the edge to have a wish granted
(with a survival rate of 85.4%), modern
visitors can enjoy the shrines and
talismans and artwork on display
without risking life and limb.

7. Himeji Castle
The Himeji Castle is considered the
best existing example of Japanese
castle architecture. It was fortified to
defend against enemies during the
feudal period, but it has been rebuilt
many times throughout the centuries
and reflects the different design
periods. It survived the bombings of
World War II and is frequently seen in
domestic and foreign films, including
the James Bond movie “You Only Live
Twice”. The white exterior and design
give the castle the appearance of a bird
taking flight, earning the the castle the
nickname ‘white egret castle’.
6. Great Buddha of

The Great Buddha of Kamakura is a colossal outdoor representation of Amida Buddha, one of
Japan’s most celebrated Buddhist figures. Cast in bronze, the Great Buddha stands at over
13 meters (40 feet) high and weighs nearly 93 tons. The statue reportedly dates from 1252.
Although it originally was housed in a small wooden temple, the Great Buddha now stands in
the open air as the original temple was washed away in a tsunami in the 15th century.

5. Todaiji Temple Where to Stay

The Todaiji Temple in Nara is a feat of engineering. It is not only the world’s largest wooden
building, it is home to the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue. Surrounded by beautiful
gardens and wildlife, the Kegon school of Buddhism is centered here and the grounds hold
many artifacts of Japanese and Buddhist history. Deer are allowed to freely roam the grounds
as messengers of the Shinto gods.

4. Tokyo Tower Where to Stay


The Tokyo Tower is a testament to the advancement of technology and modern life. Inspired
by the Eiffel tower design, it is the second tallest man-made structure in Japan and functions
as a communications and observation tower. Visitors can climb the tower for unparalleled
views of Tokyo and the surrounding areas as well as visit shops and restaurants.

3. Tokyo Imperial Palace Where to Stay

The Emperor of Japan makes his home at the Tokyo Imperial Palace. It also functions as an
administration center and museum to showcase Japanese art and history. The palace is set
on the ruins of older castles that were destroyed by fire or war, and architects have honored
the past by incorporating design elements of the different eras into the modern palace. The
new palace is surrounded by traditional Japanese gardens and has many reception and
function rooms to receive guests and welcome the public.

2. Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776 meters (12,388 ft). The volcano’s
exceptionally symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted
in art and photographs, as well as a popular tourist attraction for sightseers and climbers. An
estimated 200,000 people climb Mount Fuji every year, 30% of whom are foreigners. The
ascent can take anywhere between three and eight hours while the descent can take from
two to five hours.

1. Golden Pavilion Where to Stay


Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion is the most popular tourist attraction in Japan
and Kyoto. The pavilion was originally built as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga
Yoshimitsu in the late 14th century. Unfortunately, the pavilion was burnt down in 1950 by a
young monk who had become obsessed with it. Five years later, the temple was rebuilt as an
exact copy of the original. Emphasis is placed on the building and surrounding gardens being
in harmony with one another. The pavilion is covered in gold leaf which highlights the
reflection of the pavilion in the pond and the pond’s reflection on the building.