Japan holds many traditional festivals and events every year. Today, we will take a look at some of the traditional springtime omatsuri and events happening in Japan from March to May.
Omizutori, or the sacred water-drawing festival, is an annual event that takes place in the Todai-ji temple’s Nigatsu-do in Nara for 2 weeks starting on March 1st. It’s a Japanese Buddhist festival that has continually taken place since the 8th century where people confess their sins before Buddha and pray for things like world peace. It’s known as the “festival that tolls the spring” as the temperature starts to get warmer once omizutori ends.
Celebrated on March 3rd every year, Hinamatsuri is also known as “Doll’s Day” or “Girls’ Day.” During the festival, people pray for the sound health and growth of girls which is marked by putting dolls on display wearing traditional imperial court attire from the Heian Period. Households with girls in them are decorated with peach blossoms and the family enjoy a traditional meal together. The “Hokyoji Temple” in Kyoto is also known as the “Doll Temple” as every year, between March 1st and April 3rd, dolls of women from the imperial family are displayed.
Towards the end of March, news about the opening and full bloom of cherry blossoms begins to roll in, beginning from the hot south region of Japan. This is known as the “Cherry Blossom Front.” Generally, hanami is a time when Japanese people go to view the cherry blossoms. There are many famous cherry blossom sites around the whole of Japan all of which are bustling with people every year. When the cherry blossoms, known as sakura in Japan, are in full bloom, you will see many people sat under the trees with friends and family enjoying food and drinks.
The school entrance ceremony (nyuugakushiki) is one of the main events of April in Japan The ceremonies are held across schools in Japan to welcome incoming students to their new schools. April is also the beginning of Japan’s fiscal year when the nyuushashiki is held, or welcoming ceremony for new employees. Companies welcome new staff who have just graduated school. You could say that April being the start of everything is unique to Japan.
Until 1948, May 5th was known as Tango no Sekku and was a day to celebrate the growth of boys. It was renamed Kodomo no Hi, or “Children’s Day,” by the Japanese government to include boys and girls and became a national holiday. On this day, koinobori carp flags are raised outside people’s houses as the Japanese carp (koi) is a symbol of vitality and success.
Kanda Matsuri is held annually for 6 days from the middle of May at Kanda Shrine in Chiyoda, Tokyo. The festival stands alongside Yasaka Shrine’s “Gion Matsuri” and Ōsaka Tenman-gū’s “Tenjin Matsuri” as one of 3 biggest festivals in Japan. One of the main events of the festival is the Shinkousai held from morning to night where a huge parade and gorgeous portable shrine is taken around Kanda, Nihonbashi, Marunouchi, Akihabara and more. Lots of tourists attend to see the spectacle.
Did you enjoy our list? There are so many festivals and events to enjoy in Japan. If you’re coming here in spring, then make sure to experience one of the traditional ones to really get a feel for the culture.
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