2018 NO.24

Japanese Festivals Throughout the Year


A Time for Future Hopes

Photos: amanaimages, Aflo

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Comradeship and community

Japan’s four distinct seasons all have something to celebrate. Festivals heighten people’s sense of community, connecting them to their common roots. They also offer individuals a source of strength.

Tenjin Festival(Osaka Prefecture)

Started about 1,000 years ago to pray away summer epidemics. Still today, people carry mikoshi shrines through the streets to bring blessings to all.

Yosakoi Festival(Kochi Prefecture)

Launched in 1954 by local organizations to revitalize the economy and express hope for health and happiness for all. Around 20,000 dancers join in.

Artisanal expertise on display

Festivals show off the Japanese aesthetic: in the mikoshi portable shrines or dashi floats, in the costumes, in the decorations. The grateful spirit of the artisans behind all the beauty is also on display.

Aoi Festival(Kyoto Prefecture)

Left: A wagon pulled by an ox—once a form of transportation for the nobleborn—makes a dramatic appearance coming down the street. Tradition is alive to this day.
Right: This festival traces its roots back to years of bad harvests in the 6th century, and the fervid desire for bumper crops and security. The parade brings back to life the attire, cosmetics and hairstyles favored by aristocratic society in those days.

Gion Festival(Kyoto Prefecture)

Started in the 9th century to prevent natural disasters. Dashi floats, some 25 meters high, wind through the streets. Decorations include ancient imports and local artworks.