Japanese festivals

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The festivals in Japan, matsuri in Japanese, are often celebrated around a particular event in close relation to the current season. The festivals range from small and peaceful to the large and noble. Traditional matsuris are often celebrated around shrines and temples. Some are celebrated locally and are not even known outside a specific prefecture in Japan, while other festivals draw visitors from all over the world. Japan celebrates many matsuri where the local community organizes stunning parades, involving carefully designed costumes and extensive preparation.

Influences of the season

The Japanese attach great value to every season, which is why many of their festivals are fully tailored to the time of the year. For instance, summer is the season of fireworks, lighting up the skies with spectacular, colourful displays. The most popular event is Gion Matsuri, which is held to dispel the gods that cause fire, floods and earthquakes. This festival is so popular that it gets celebrated throughout the entire month of July. In autumn, you are able to join the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival, Nagasaki prefecture’s most famous festival which incorporates a mixture of Japanese and Dutch traditions. In winter, events such as the popular Sapporo Snow Festival (Yuki Matsuri) takes place, featuring massive ice sculptures. The symbol of Japan during spring time is the sakura, which starts blooming in March or April. As such, cherry blossom festivals are celebrated the entire season and in nearly every region of Japan. During sakura season his Japanese icon for beauty can be seen in specific elements throughout the hotel as well. The Hakata Dontaku Festival in May is Japan’s biggest citizens’ festival, with people parading the streets in fabulous costumes.

Major celebrations in Japan

One of the main traditional celebrations in Japan is Gosekku, which is a set of five seasonal holidays that are celebrated on the same day every year. During the festivals, food is offered to wish for successful harvesting and a blessing of nature. The five seasonal festivals are:
January 7: Festival of the Seven Herbs (Nanakusa no Sekku)
March 3: Girls’ Festival (Hina no Sekku)
May 5: Boy’s Festival, also known as Children’s day (Tango no Sekku)
July 7: Star Festival (Tanabata)
September 9: Chrysanthemum Festival (Kiku no Sekku)

Another major celebration in Japan is New Year, known as oshogatsu. Most businesses shut down the first three days of the new year to let people spend the days together with family. It is a common thing for Japanese people to say akemashite-omedetou-gozaimasu (Happy New Year) to each other and to eat osechi ryori (special dishes), such as mochi (rice cake)and otoso (sweetened rice wine).

During the festival periods you will find countless subtle and more obvious references made to those festivals in our hotel. For example, the menus and kimono’s at Yamazato Restaurant and Teppanyaki Restaurant Sazanka. The appetisers, especially, are full of symbols.