Matsuri - feel the spirit of Japan

Matsuri refers to festivals. There are numerous matsuri in Japan throughout the year. The original purpose of matsuri is to show thanks for the harvest and to pray for prosperity. The traditional style differs according to region, and now they are held to strengthen the community and succeed its cultural tradition. For tourist, it is utlimate experience to feel the raw energy of local people and its sense of beauty.


In general, we have larger number of festivals in summer. This is because in old days, many people died for infectious disease in summer, so they did festival to let evil spirit away. Also, in the second week of August, we have period called obon where we believe ancestor’s spirit come back from heaven. Festivals has a purpose to welcome gods and spirits.


Today I would like to introduce some elements  of summer festival in Japan.


Mikoshi & Dashi

 The typical matsuri is characterized by participants parading through town while carrying portable shrines called mikoshi or hauling festival floats called dashi.  mikoshi can weigh around 2t, so unity of carriers is very important to finish matsuri safely.


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Dancing is anothre important  element of matsuri.


Bonodori is a folk dance, people are gathering around a tower where drum and instruments are played, and dancing in circle. Any participants can join. The coreography is easy to remember.



Awa-odori originated from Tokushima prefecture. Groups of choreographed dancers and musicians known as ren (連) dance through the streets, typically accompanied by the shamisen lute, taiko drums, shinobue flute and the kane bell. Performers wear traditional obon dance costumes, and chant and sing as they parade through the streets.


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Fireworks in Japan is slightly different from those in overseas in its style. Set to music and with an emphasis on artistic use of shapes and colors, fireworks festival makes for a fun way to spend the night.

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Stalls in matsuri are favored by from young to old. Food such as yakisoba noodle, takoyaki, kakigori(crushed ice with syrup), Anzu candy, cotton candy are typical food for matsuri. Shooting, or goldfish scooping are popular game among kids.

If you are able to make items falling off the shlef, it is yours!

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Scooping bouncing balls in various shape and colors are fascinating for children.

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Scoop your favorite golden fish with paper scoop. Expert can get more than 100 fish without breaking the paper.

Unfortunately, you are not able to take them back to your country, but your guide might be happy to adopt them :) 

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Yukata is a casual kimono made of kotton. It is worn in the summer in ryokan lodge at night, or summer festival. For ladies yukata, it is exciting to think about its combination with obi(belt).


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As I learned how to dress yukata, and collected yukatas and obis,  you can  wear this comfortble cotton kimono for cheaper price ( cleaning cost required) to join summer festival. There are varieties to fit various age, size and gender. You can wear at your hotel, and undress at your hotel. There is no need to returun to shop by closing time.


Please join my tour if you are interested in Japanese summer festivals:


If you are travelling to Japan in summer, please ask your guide if there is any local festival in the area.

I introduced regullar type of matsuri in this article, but here is a introduction of crazy matsuri in local region.

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