Japan Australia Pages

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Japan Festivals August 2012

Summer in Japan is the time for festivals and August is one of the hottest months for Japanese festivals and events with lots happening around the country. The hot weather is the perfect excuse to head outdoors and enjoy these spectacular events.

Some of the big festivals and events include:


Gujo Bon Odori – Held in Gujo City, Gifu from July 14 to September 8. It is regarded as one of the three best Bon Odori in Japan, and is over 400 years old. The four main days of the festival are from August 13 – 16 where the dancing goes on through the night.

Nebuta Matsuri – Held in Aomori from August 2 to 7 this summer festival is one of the largest in the Tohoku region. Nebuta refers to the elaborate floats which are carried through the centre of the city, while dancers wearing a costume called “haneto” dance around.

Kanto Matsuri – Held in Akita from August 3 to 6 this summer festival is to pray for an abundant harvest of grains. The highlight of the festival is when the performers balance long bamboo poles (kanto) with an array of paper lanterns attached to the end.

Tokyo Bay Fireworks – Held north of the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo Bay on August 11. This spectacular fireworks display features over 12,000 shells fired from barges in the water. The best spot to view the fireworks is from Harumi Park.

Awa Odori – The Awa Odori Dance Festival in Tokushima is held from August 12 to 15. It is the largest dance festival in Japan and is held as part of the Obon festival. The festival attracts over 1.3 million tourists every year.

Obon – Is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honour the departed spirits of one’s ancestors. It has evolved into a family reunion holiday, during which people return to ancestral places and visit and clean their ancestor’s grave. It is believed that around this time the spirits revisit the household altars. Obon lasts for three days (August 13 to 16).

I would love to hear from you if you have been lucky enough to have experienced any of these festivals this year.

12 comments:

  1. I'd love to visit the festivals you mentioned someday! :)

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    1. Thanks Lina, I have been to all the ones in Gifu, but have yet to see the cool Tohoku festivals. Hopefully next year :)

      John

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  2. It's a great list and I know all of them but I have never visited any festivals.
    What a shame. (Of course, I joined Kawagoe festival. )

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    1. Thanks Cocomino, They are pretty big and famous, but sometimes the smaller local ones are the most memorable :)

      John

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  3. I take part in Obon, of course, and I've seen plenty of awa odori dances in various locations in Tokyo ... but not the granddaddy of them all in Tokushima.

    It's summer holiday now, so you can see suffering parents ^^ and hyperactive children everywhere. Maybe it's my imagination, but the pace in Tokyo is slowing down slightly, as it usually does before/during Obon. It's still frantic; it's just marginally less frantic than usual. :D

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    1. Thanks Rurousha, Yeah, I'm the same. I've seen plenty of local awa odori dances in my area, but have never seen the big one in Tokushima. It is on my hit list, so hopefully will get to it soon :)

      John

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  4. Nice post! I would also mention the Star Festival in Kyoto (I'm sure its all around Japan). Here's the link with information: http://www.kyoto-tanabata.jp/global/en/horikawa.html

    I'll be attending it this year so - I can't wait :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Kitty, I appreciated the positive feedback. Tanabata is a great summer festival as well and very popular all over Japan. We had a big celebration on July 7th and the whole family wrote some wished on coloured paper and tied them to a bamboo branch. It was very cool :)

      John

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  5. Thanks for the info. I like festivals, but at the same time I hate crowds, so it is a paradox (^_^)

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    1. Thanks Thomas, Glad you liked the info. Festivals are usually very crowded, but who can resist all that amazing festival food and the atmosphere :)

      John

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  6. I might have missed it, but the Awa Odori will also be in Tokyo this month (i.e. August) on the 25th and 26th in Koenji. The Koenji is the second largest next to Tokushima`s. It was started by people who moved to Tokyo at some point in the past. It`s absolutely huge and often televised. Apparently there are often over 12000 dancers attending, and the onlookers (over the 2 days) number over 1 million. This year`s should be good too!

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    1. Thanks Rohan, Yes, there are a few Awa Odori dance festivals around Japan. The biggest one is the one above in the post in Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku. As you mentioned, the next biggest is Kōenji, in Tokyo, which was modelled on Tokushima's. I hope you have the chance to visit this one and write about it on your site.

      John

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