15 Unique Festivals Only Found in Japan(6~10)

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6 The Sendai star festival
%e4%bb%99%e5%8f%b0%e4%b8%83%e5%a4%95%e7%a5%ad%e3%82%8aThe Star Festival is derived from the legend of Vega and Altair. This princess and prince had much fun being together and stop working hard on their royal duties. The king was angered by this and decided to separate them by the entire Milky Way galaxy. He allows them to meet once a year across the Milky Way on the night of July 7th.
This is the origin of the Star Festival and the reason why the star festival is usually held on July 7th. On that day, Japanese people display bamboo grass with a strip of paper and ornaments to celebrate their reunion. When we write a wish to the strip of paper and display it, it is said that a wish comes true.
The Star Festival is held in several different areas of Japan. Today, we will introduce one of the biggest Star Festival events, which is held in Sendai in the Miyagi prefecture. The Sendai Star festival has been passed down through the generations as a traditional event that dates back to the era of Date Masamune (1567~1636), the first lord of Sendai Domain. The Star Festival is traditionally held throughout Japan on July 7, a date based on the old Chinese calendar. However, the Sendai Star Festival is held from August 6 to 8, based on a calendar month later than the old Chinese calendar, in order to keep to the seasonality of an old festival. During the festival, the entire city, including central Sendai neighboring shopping districts, is filled with colorful decorations. More than two million tourists visit the festival every year.

To see more, here is a video about this festival.

Date: 6th ~ 8th August
Address: City of Sendai, Miyagi prefecture
Access:The JR Sendai Station.
Sendai is located in Miyagi Prefecture in the Tohoku area. The best way to access is by using Shinkansen from Tokyo.

 

 

 

7 “Lucky Men” Race

206%e9%96%8b%e9%96%80%e7%a5%9e%e4%ba%8b%e7%a6%8f%e7%94%b7dEver since the Edo Period, participants gather in front of the shrine’s main gate before 6am on the 10th of January. At 6am, the shrine’s drum sounds, the gates are opened, and the assembled crowd sprints perilously 230 meters to the main hall. The top three finishers are given the title of “Lucky Men,” and of those three, the champion is known as the “Luckiest Man.” The race has been known to attract more than 6,000 runners. Why are they called “lucky men?” This is because there is no history of a woman winning the race. If a woman wins the race, the name of festival will be changed. A woman who is confident she can run faster than any man should take part in this race. If you want to participate in this festival, you don’t need to fill out any preliminary applications, but the place where you start to run depends on a lottery.
To see more, here is a video about this festival

Date:10th January
Address: Nishinomiya Shrine, City of Nishinomiya, Hyogo prefecture
Access: The JR Nishinomiya Station by South Exit (5 mins)
The Hyogo prefecture is located next to Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka. You can access the best by using the Shinkansen or a train.

 
8 Eisā Festival

When it comes to Japan’s southernmost prefecture, Okinawa, the best display of their culture is the Eisā festival. This festival is held during the last days of the lunar calendar. Dancing and playing musical instruments, men and women performers go from house to house to honor the spirits of their ancestors. The instruments are large and small drums, as well as the typical Okinawan stringed instrument, the sanshin. Opinions differ as to the origin of the Eisā festival, but some say that in the 17th century a monk came to Okinawa (then the Ryūkyūan Kingdom) from Kyōto and translated a Buddhist chant into Ryūkyūan, which then became widely known. After World War II, Eisā became not just a custom to honor the ancestors, but also a performance exhibition. Eisā can be seen throughout Okinawa, although the costuming and dances vary from place to place. For example, there are Eisā performances in which only women dance, and another type called “angama” in which the dancers wear masks. In the weekend immediately after the lunar calendar holiday, the Okinawan Eisā Festival takes place in Okinawa City. This festival began in 1956, and teams are selected from all over the islands to dance together to the music of the sanshin and drums. If you would like to see one of the biggest Eisa festivals, “Okinawa Zento Eisa Festival,” check out the video below!

Date:26th to 28th August 2016
Address: City of Okinawa, Okinawa prefecture
Access: Okinawa Prefecture is the southernmost prefecture of Japan. I recommend to use an airplane.

9 Furano Bellybutton Festival “Hokkai Heso Matsuri”
The rather curious tradition of the Hokkaido Bellybutton Dance (Heso Odori) began in 1969. It was decided that a town festival was needed, in order to unify and energize Furano’s people, whom are spread over a large area. Inspired by Furano’s location in the very middle of Hokkaido, the festival organizers came up with the idea of a dance featuring the bellybutton.
This dance was not exactly an immediate hit. In the first official Heso Matsuri, only 11 people joined the dance. However, over the years, Heso Matsuri has become one of the most famous summer festivals in Hokkaido, drawing people from around Japan and the world. Last year, over 5,000 people participated in the two-day dance, with thousands more gathering to watch.
Humor is a key reason for the festival’s success. Dancers make their “heso” (bellybutton) into a face, using paint, special costumes, and props. There are many innovative variations to the simple, energetic Heso Odori (Bellybutton Dance). Competition is intense as dancers compete for prizes and glory in various categories.
All things have a center; for a person, this is the bellybutton. Hokkaido’s bellybutton lies in Furano. Join us for this unique, humorous and unforgettable spectacle.
To see more, here is a video about this festival.

Date: 28th – 29th September
Address: City of Furano, Hokkaido prefecture
Access: “The JR Furano Station” (Walk: 5 min)
The city of Furano is located in the heart of Hokkaido. Therefore, when you visit Sapporo, we recommend you to also visit Furano. From Sapporo just rent a car or using a bus.

10 The Chichibu NIght Festival
yomatsuri_13The Chichibu Night Festival is the festival of the Chichibu Shrine in Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture, which is located just 90 minutes from central Tokyo. The festival is held every year on December 2nd and 3rd.
The Chichibu Night Festival is considered one of top three Japanese festivals that feature the Dashi (a float), which is a low platform on wheels with various decorations like lanterns, tapestries and gilded woodcarvings and is carried in a festival. The float is also called “danjiri” in Osaka. The other top two festivals are the Kyoto Gion festival and the Takayama festival.
This festival also features other attractions, such as fireworks, which last almost two and a half hours and gives you the rare opportunity to enjoy Japanese fireworks during winter.
The main events of the Chichibu Festival take place on December 3. In the afternoon and early evening, the six floats are displayed in their respective neighborhoods and at the Chichibu Shrine before being pulled through the streets of Chichibu towards the city hall at around 19:00.
The climax takes place on the plaza in front of the city hall, when one float after the other is pulled up the slope onto the plaza and they all line up. From 19:30 to 22:00 a long, spread out fireworks display is held, which can be seen from many places around town.
To see more, here is a video about this festival.

Date: Every year: December 3th
Access:
– From “Kumagaya Station” to “Chichibu Station” by Chichibu Line (Express Train)
– From “Ikebana Station” to “Seibu Chichibu Station” by Seibu Line (Special Express Train *external fee*)
Address:Chichibu shrine, Saitama prefecture

Chichibu is located in the mountain area of Saitama prefecture. It is very near to Tokyo. Therefore, it is a nice place to visit for a day-trip. The best way to access is by train or car.

 


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