Do you know what is a festival for Japan?
If you come to Japan, you will come across many festivals .
These are in any season , city and any local place. Yes Japan is a country of festivals.
I’m Nobu, the certificate English guide in Japan for 7 years.I show you hidden Japan which you have never seen and heard!
Check Japanese local festival reference
If your schedule has set to Japan, check the festivals at your destinations.
There will be nice seasonal local atmosphere festivals.
These are mostly Shinto shrines related, Buddha temple related and season related.
We have spring Hanami ( cherry blossom viewing)festival , flower festival of Buddha, rainy season flower festivals, summer fireworks festivals.
And then we have autumn colorful leaves festivals, harvest festivals, winter snow festivals….
But many people think that festivals in Japan are just about eating delicious food, watching fireworks and portable shrines.
However, in ancient times, festivals were sacred events.
Origin of festivals in Japan
The origin of the festival in Japan is believed to be the myth of Iwato-hiding.
It passed down since ancient times.
Iwato-hiding means that Amaterasu Okami, the goddess of the sun, hid herself behind a door in the sky.
It caused the whole world to lose its light.
The eight million gods decided to do something about it .
They held a big cheerful party in front of the Iwato, dancing and singing.
Finally, Amaterasu emerged from the Iwato and the light returned to the whole world again.
We think this “banquet” is the origin of today’s festivals.
Festival and enshrine are the same meaning
The word “matsuri” is derived from the verb “to enshrine,” which also has the meaning of presenting offerings to the gods.
Thus, we believe that the gods are deeply connected to the beginning of Japanese festivals.
Since then, festivals held in Japan to express gratitude to the gods and to deliver prayers.
Change of festivals concept from ancient time
In ancient times, festivals were always closely connected to people’s lives.
They were wishing for a bountiful harvest of grains and peace.
Also wishing disasters away when they came.
By the beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868), festivals had become more “entertaining” .
It became a part of popular culture, especially for the common people.
They performed flashy performances such as portable shrines, lion dances, and fireworks.
In particular, after World War II, there was a strong movement to revive Japanese festivals.
Since then, festivals have become popular like they were in the Edo period.
Japanese festivals have gradually changed from rituals to prayers to entertainment.
The greatest characteristics of Japanese festivals are their diversity.
In the Tohoku region the northern part of Japan , there are Kanto ( lantern) Matsuri and Namahage( masks ).
Then in Shikoku there is Awa Odori, in Okinawa there is Eisa( dance and music), and so on.
Among the diversity of Japanese festivals, there is one thing that is common .
This is the existence of the “mikoshi” (portable shrine).
It is considered to be “something that gods ride on.”
I think it’s a traditional culture even in the diversity of Japanese festivals.
Consistency amid diversity… The history of Japanese festivals is interesting.
I’m Nobu, one heart enjoy together!!!