There are more than 300,000 “matsuri” festivals in Japan, and they vary significantly from region to region.
Residents plan and fund these events, usually with the help of a local shrine or temple.
However, the people wear traditional festival (matsuri) costumes and carry Mikoshi, a portable shrine, through the streets to bless the town and its inhabitants.
Shintoism in Japan gave rise to these seasonal festivals as a means of worshipping the gods.
Shintoism merged with Buddhism in Japan, and the gods accepted the festivals.
Table of Contents
- 1. Gion Matsuri
- 2. Kanda Matsuri
- 3. Awa Odori
- 4. Sapporo Yuki Matsuri
- 5. Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri
- 6. Tenjin Matsuri
- 7. Nebuta Matsuri
- 8. Hakata Dontaku Matsuri
- 9. Kochi Yosakoi Matsuri
- 10. Tanabata Matsuri
1. Gion Matsuri
One of Japan’s most famous and most significant festivals, the Gion Festival, takes place every July in Kyoto.
Initially, they used it to purify and soothe disease-causing spirits in Japan’s indigenous, nature-based Shinto faith.
However, Yamaboko Junk float processions on July 17th and 24th are the festival’s most well-known ceremonies.
Several festival events are held in Kyoto’s traditional kimono area and at Yasaka Shrine during the festival.
Shakyamuni Shrine in Yasaka, Japan, is the festival’s patron. Kyoto’s famed Gion neighborhood is home to this quaint inn.
2. Kanda Matsuri
In Tokyo, Kanda Matsuri is one of the most well-known events, celebrating the Kanda Myojin Shrine. Mid-May is when most of the action takes place.
They depart Kanda Myojin Shrine in the morning and are followed by around a thousand people until they return to the shrine in the evening.
3. Awa Odori
In Tokushima Prefecture on Shikoku, Japan, the Awa Dance Festival lasts from August 12 to 15. More than 1.3 million tourists attend the Awa Odori dance festival each year, making it the largest in Japan.
Dancers and musicians perform on the streets, accompanied by drums, flute, and bells. As they parade through the streets, performers wear traditional Obon dance costumes and chant and sing.
Moreover, “Awa” is Tokushima Prefecture’s feudal name, and “Odori” is Japanese for “dance.”
4. Sapporo Yuki Matsuri
Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival is a seven-day event which holds every February in Sapporo. It holds in Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome, which are the celebration’s primary venues.
There has been an annual international snow sculpture contest at Odori Park since 1974. In 2008, 14 teams from across the world participated.
However, nearly two million visitors visited Sapporo in 2007 (the 57th festival) to see the hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures in Odori Park and Susukino, both in central Sapporo and Satoland.
It is not uncommon for the statues to depict an event, notable building, or famous person from the preceding year.
5. Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri
During the middle of September, Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri takes place in Kishiwada City, Osaka.
However, people refer to the floats made of wood, many weighing more than 3000 kg, Danjiri. As a result, it is one of Japan’s most exciting festivals.
A team leader dances on top of the giant floats while it is pulled.
6. Tenjin Matsuri
This event honors Sugawara Michizane, the deity of scholarship, and holds at the Tenmangu Shrine.
The event begins with them ceremonially inviting the god out of the shrine and paraded across the city.
They treat him to a variety of exuberant festivities before returning to his shrine.
Moreover, traditional costumes, stunning processions, and a joyous mood characterize the people’s enjoyment of the vibrant events.
7. Nebuta Matsuri
Aomori, Aomori Prefecture, Japan, hosts the Nebuta Matsuri in early August.
There are no other Nebuta festivals in Japan that attract as many tourists as this one. Nebuta festival is one of the three largest festivals in the Thoku region.
In 1980, it was designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property, and in 1996, the Ministry of the Environment named it one of Japan’s 100 soundscapes.
8. Hakata Dontaku Matsuri
The Hakata Dontaku Matsuri takes place in Fukuoka City on May 3 and 4. With a wooden “Shamoji,” which they use to serve rice, people dance and parade around the streets.
Also, several events take place around the Hakata Port, giving it the name Hakata Dontaku Port Festival.
9. Kochi Yosakoi Matsuri
As a result of the Yosakoi Naruko Dance, which the residents created in 1954, a festival originated.
It is based on “Yosakoi Bushi,” an old folk tune. Dancers carry “Naruko” clappers, which generate a click-clack sound as they move passionately to the music.
During the middle of August, it is held every year.
10. Tanabata Matsuri
Tanabata Matsuri takes place in Sendai City, Miyagi, from August 6 to August 8. Chinese mythology concerning Altair and Vega is the basis for this event.
However, in the streets, you’ll find thousands of large, colorful paper decorations.