Enjoy Japanese Summer Festivals!


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Fireworks display in Onomich city




The glare of the sun and chorus of cicadas are the symbols of summers in Japan. In urban areas, office workers wipe their sweat with a handkerchief and walk on a scorching road. Dog lovers, just be sure not to take your companion for a walk. The too hot surfaces of roads could disease your doggy. Japan is meteorologically located in the temperate zone, but the heat of summers is much like that in the tropical zone.


However, atmospheric convection makes sea breeze in evenings which blows through rivers upstream. People often say “August is the Sunday of summer”. Only in summer are climbing mountains and sea bathing enjoyable. Summer festivals around the country also exhilarate Japanese people.




Go out with Japanese Summer Kimono (Yukata) on.



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Yukata-clad females



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(Photo by (c) Photo AC)


A fan printing a character meaning Festival


It is unfortunate that fewer and fewer of people wear a kimono in an ordinary life. At the same time, kimono are very expensive, so many Japanese make do with a rented one on special occasions. In contrast, the prices of summer kimono (yukata) are not so high. However, the dressing takes some getting used to, so it is rare to see Japanese people wearing the traditional costume in the streets. So where do you see the colorful and traditional attire?


The recommendable opportunities are summer festivals which are full of women in yukata. They take the opportunity and primp themselves up. Before going to a summer festival, they are already excited. The colors of yukata for men are subdued but those for women are very colorful. The scenes where women wear a yukata in festivals are summer features. Why don’t you wear a yukata and go to summer festivals in Japan?




Enjoy Summer Festivals!



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Night stalls



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(Photo by (c) フリー写真素材ぱくたそ)


Goldfish scooping



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Gold fish scooping



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(Photo by (c) Photo AC)


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(Photo by (c) フリー写真素材ぱくたそ)


Most Japanese summer festivals have little to do with something religious. They are sometimes sponsored by local towns and enterprises and have a relatively short history. In this article, let me introduce popular and amusing stalls as well.


At summer festivals, usually held for about one to three days, various kinds of stalls stand side by side in a bet that tens of thousands of people will turn out. Those stalls offer foods, festival goods and games.


First of all, “goldfish scooping” is interesting. Participants use a frame with thin paper instead of a net and try to catch goldfishes. However, it is difficult because paper is too thin and soon is teared. It is very lucky for beginners to catch one or two fishes. Don’t worry. Honest stall keepers give you a few goldfishes when you fail. Recently, bouncy balls has been replaced by goldfish, but you must lose yourself when you are playing.

The next is shooting. Confectionaries and small stuffed toys are placed on the shelves. You may shoot and push them down with toy rifle bullets. A confident gunman is convinced that he can accurately hit all targets. Sorry! The force to shoot bullets is not strong, so hitting a mark ends up with just moving a little. In Japan, guns are totally controlled. Ordinary people have not had any opportunities to use real guns. Their insufficient skills have stalls make a lot of profits.


Traditional festival goods are masks. Stalls sell a wide variety of masks from folksy “droll fellow or hyottoko”, “homey women or otafuku” and animals like a fox, to animated characters such as “Hello Kitty” or “Pokémon Pikachu”.


Wearing a yukata and mask, and carrying around a fan are perfect costume for Japanese summer festivals. Stalls selling foods have an endless number of varieties. The pictures are posted here. When you are interested in any stall, please give it a try. They are very delicious but take care not to eat too much!




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(Photo by (c) Photo AC)


Takoyaki dumplings



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(Photo by (c) Photo AC)


Fried soba noodles



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(Photo by (c) Photo AC)


Bananas coated with chocolate



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(Photo by (c) Photo AC)


Broiled chicken




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(Photo by (c) フリー写真素材ぱくたそ)


Broiled corns


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(Photo by (c) フリー写真素材ぱくたそ)


Cold drinks



Fireworks Displays – The Biggest draw of Summer Festivals


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Public Domain


Fireworks display depicted in an ukiyo-e



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The biggest fireworks shell in the world



Although I have no hard numbers, more than a thousand large-scaled fireworks displays are held all over Japan in a year. They are main draws of summer festivals. The origin was in the beginning of the 18 century, and then, a fireworks show was held beside Sumida River in Tokyo. It was depicted in an ukiyo-e.


There are uncountable summer festivals in Japan. I think the shorter the history is, the bigger the scale of fireworks display. It is because beautiful and prominent fireworks easily attract people. For this reason, pyrotechnicians are as very busy as a bee in summers. During the off-season, they make conventional fireworks or contrive new ones. Their efforts bear fruit at summer festivals.


The biggest round shell of fireworks is 120 cm (Approx. 47-inch) in diameter, 420 kg (Approx. 926-pound) in weight and skyrockets and bursts at the height of 800 meters (Approx. 2600-feet). At the same time, a breathtaking flash of 800 meters in diameter sparks. For your information, the price of the mammoth fireworks is about twenty-six thousand dollars! Unfortunately, this type of fireworks are rarely shot off, so please watch the Movie 2.


In most summer festivals, at least about a thousand fireworks are set off, which is enough to satisfy festival visitors. By the way, the largest number of fireworks which were shot on an occasion is about forty-thousand at Suwa Lake Fireworks Festival in Nagano Prefecture. (A link to the location)




4 Biggest Festivals in Tohoku Region, Northern Japan



The Japanese archipelago is very long from north to south. In the north, it is very frigid in winters and summers are too short. For this, people in the northern region especially look forward to summer to come. Among summer festivals in Japan, those of the Northern Japan are large-scale and worth visiting and seeing.




Aomori Nebuta Festival


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First of all, please enjoy Nebuta Festival in Aomori city (A link to the location). It is held from August 2 to 7 every year. The feature is 20 huge floats in the motif of samurai warriors and mythical heroes which glow with inside lights. Those floats proceed to distinctive calls. A float is 10-meter high and draws 20,000 kilowatts of power for illumination. During the Nebuta Festival, as many as 3 million people turn out and more than a thousand fireworks are shot in the final day.




Sendai Tanabata Festival (Elegant Festival of Paper and Bamboo)


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People write their wishes on a strip of colorful paper.



On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake and giant tsunami hit Sendai city (A link to the location), Miyagi Prefecture as well. However, the never-give-up attitude of the local people has conquered the hardships. The symbol is Sendai Tanabata Festival held from August 6 to 8 every year. You can view 3,000 big decorations made of paper and bamboo in the city. Some earthquake scars have been left even now, but the traditional festival encourages people in Sendai and attracts many visitors both nationally and internationally.




Akita Kanto Festival


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In Akita city (A link to the location), the festival is held from August 3 to 6. Bamboo poles are hung with colorful lanterns. The biggest pole is 12-meter high (Approx. 40-feet), weighs 50-kg (110-pound) and hangs 46 lanterns. You are sure to be surprised that a performer carries the big pole made of bamboo with lanterns just on his forehead or shoulder. Performers with many lanterns proceed to music and calls in the city. The amazing performance is held night and day. Of course, the illumination of lanterns are more fantastical and impressive.




Yamagata Hanagasa Festival


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In Yamagata city (A link to the location), Hanagasa Festival is held from August 5 to 7. Flowery and beautiful women perform dancing in the main streets, wearing yukata and straw hat. It is worth knowing that there are many beautiful women in the Tohoku (North East) Region. Thirty thousand performers are divided into 150 groups. The population of the city is a quarter of a million people, so the total number of the performers except visitors largely surpasses that of the other three festivals. For your information, it is glad that Hanagasa Festival welcomes unofficial participants. When you see a sign saying “Let’s dance together”, you can take part in dancing.




For Your Summer Reminiscence!



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Pop Music “Summer Festival” with English subtitles sung by Hatsune Miku



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“Summer Festival” sung by an all-female band

When you become an adult, somehow we get lazy. Flopping down on the sofa in an air-conditioned room, you are more interested in watching sports relay. Moreover, it is sweltering outside in Japan.


Sometimes I wonder why I spend

The lazy night sipping sake

The aroma haunts my appetite

And I am once again with it


Summers have many things to look forward; swimming in the sea, climbing mountains, camping and summer festivals. All the more, summer reminiscence will never “cool down”. Experience Japanese summer festivals with your family members or a lover. It will be sure to be your good lifetime memories.

Summer Festivals all over Japan always wait for your visit.