There's something for everyone in Japan.
Though technologically ahead of the world, Japan is also a country that never leaves its traditions behind. Festivals in Japan are not just about history but also the ever-growing pop culture that adds the oomph to its name.
Check out 11 festivals in Japan that you have to experience at least once in your lifetime!
1. Cherry Blossom Festival
Held from end of March to early May, Hanami is one of the most beautiful festivals in Japan, for this festival celebrated the gorgeous cherry blossom flower! With their families, the Japanese enjoy cherry blossom viewing parties under these flower-adorned trees. It's a centuries old practice, which celebrates the transient beauty of flowers.
Image Credits: Wikimedia
2. Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
February 5 to February 16 is the time of the year when this small snowy town is lit with lanterns. This winter festival happens almost at the same time as the Sapporo Snow Festival. Travellers from Hokkaido can visit both these festivals in Japan, but this small town where the locals hang beautifully lit lanterns outside their houses is simply a treat to the eyes!
Image Credits: Lee LeFever
3. Chichibu Yomatsuri, the Winter Festival
During this three-day festival, the winter sky is lit up with fireworks in the Saitama prefecture. Just 90 mins away from the city of Tokyo, every year on December 3, the final day of this three day festival, gorgeous floats are paraded through the streets with locals shouting Ho-ryai Ho-ryai as the men drag the massive floats uphill.
Image Credits: Kaori Hilton
4. Daidogei Street Performance World Cup
This annual street performance world cup is organized in Shizouka City. The festival is held in November and teams from across the world compete to be a part of it. The main stage is placed at the Sunpu Park but you can see the artists perform all around the city.
Image Credits: L'oeil etranger
5. Annual Video Game Convention At Makuhari Messe
From 19th to 20th September this year, the annual convention for gamers from all around the world will be held in Makuhari Messe. On these two days the convention will be open for public to witness the latest game debuts and win a chance to play with newest demos from Sony, Microsoft and the likes.
Image Credits: Ryoku Kasinn
6. Summer Water Fight Festival
Over 30,000 people will participate in this summer water fight festival, Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuril. On 15th of August every year, more than 50 mikoshi teams participate along with musicians and dancers and parade around the city tossing over 2500 kg of mikoshi in the air, performing the ultimate show of strength, where even the local fire brigade comes along to celebrate. Offering endless fun and revelry, there's no surprise that this is one of the most happening festivals in Japan.
Image Credits: Hideya Hamano
7. Hadaka Matsuri in Okayama
Adding to the list of eccentric festivals in Japan is the Hadaka Matsuri, a festival that is celebrated on the third Saturday of February. Around 9000 men wearing only loincloths, struggle fiercely to catch hold of a 4cm long sacred stick which the priest throws into the crowd. The man who gets hold of the stick is blessed with one year of happiness.
Image Credits: wikimedia
8. World Cosplay Summit
The ever growing interest of the Japanese people in Anime and Manga led to the World Cosplay Summit where people dress up and act as the characters. Nagoya, Japan is now known as the Holy Cosplay Land where people from different countries participate in the grand championship.
Image Credits: Wikimedia
9. Yonabaru Great Tug of War in Okinawa
This is one of the oldest tug-of-wars in Japan which dates back to 400 years. 12 ropes crafted by the 12 communities are joined the night before the event. The two ends are considered the male and female ends of the rope. The locals pulling the giant rope from both ends, devoting their energy, is indeed an impressive sight.
Image Credits: Kenneth Taylor Jr
10. Crying Baby Festival
It's a 400 year old Japanese tradition at Nakizumo festival. The babies are brought inside a sumo ring where the sumo wrestler holds and shakes them to make the babies cry first. The baby who cries first is declared the healthiest and the winner. Yes, you're right, festivals in Japan are as extraordinary as they get!
Image Credits: Douglas Sprott
11. Awashima Doll Floating Festival
On Girls' Day every year a ritual is performed at the Awashima Shrine in Wakayama. Several dolls are donated by the families of the girls which are later launched out in the sea in small boats. Any potential bad luck is thus evaded with the immersion of the dolls. This ritual dates back to the 8th century.
Image Credits: Ellie
Japan is an island world of celebration. If you're out on the journey to explore, Japan is a treat to a wanderer's senses. Away from the busy streets of Tokyo, there's a whole world out there in this small island country where everyday is a celebration.
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