Japanese Spring Holidays

While the citizens of northern Japan are still feeling the cold aftermath of the snowy winter, the lucky inhabitants of the southern islands are slowly getting some sun in their swimsuits. The popular symbol of Japan during spring is the cherry blossom tree; they start blooming, during March and April.

Showa no Hi (April 29)

April 29 is former Emperor Showa’s birthday (昭和の日). This Japanese holiday reflection on the emperor’s 63-year reign rather than his personal glorification.

Kenpo Kinnen Bi / Constitution Day (May 3)

Japan’s Constitution Day (憲法記念日) takes place every May 3 and is  part of a collection of Japanese holidays known as the Golden Week. It was during this day that the 1947 Constitution of Japan was created. Constitution Day encourages the Japanese people to reflect on the true meaning of democracy and the government.

Midori no Hi/ Greenery Day (May 4)

Until the year 2006, Greenery Day (みどりの日) was celebrated on April 29, the birthday of Emperor Showa. In 2007, it was moved to May 4. On Greenery Day, people commune with nature and appreciate the blessings in their lives.

Kodomo no Hi/Children’s Day (May 5)

Kodomo no Hi (こどもの日) is a Japanese holiday dedicated to respect children’s rights and celebrate their happiness. Boys’ Festival happens on May 5 and Girls’ Festival on May 3.

 

Spring Festivals in Japan

There is more to Japan’s best loved festivals than the Sakura Cherry Blossom. Here are the most popular festivals in the country during spring. Take some time to enjoy these celebrations, mingle with the locals, and practice your Japanese language skills.

Floral Festival (April 8 )

Also known as Hana Matsuri, the Floral Festival is actually the memorial service performed at temples throughout Japan to celebrate Buddha’s birth on April 18. As a part of Japanese traditional culture, small buildings are adorned with flowers and a baby Buddha figurine (tanjobushu) is placed inside.

Kamakura Festival (2nd & 3rd Sunday of April)

The Kamakura Festival is usually celebrated in the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura City. The main attractions of the event include the shizuka no mai dance performed on the 2nd Sunnday and the yabusame on the 3rd. Shizuka no mai is a dance that is performed on the ritual stage. Yabusame is a revival of samurai skills and shooting arrows.

Takayama Festival (April 14-15)

One of the country’s most beautiful festivals, the Takayama Festival is a memorable event celebrated in old Takayama town during spring and fall. The festival is centered on the Sanno Shrine or Hie Shrine. In spring, the event is held in hope of a good harvest all year long.

Yayoi Festival (April 16 & 17)

The Yayoi Festival features a beautiful parade of floats honoring ancient Japanese culture and traditions. The event also welcomes the spring season in Nikko, with its World Heritage Site shrines and temples. The most popular attraction happens April 17 during the parade of lavish and beautifully decorated floats called hana yatai, representing each town.

 

Hakata Dontaku Festival (May 3 & 4)

The Hakata Dontaku Festival is the biggest citizens’ festival in Japan. People dress up in distinctive costumes and parade the streets. The event has the highest number of crowd and spectators, with over two million people turning out each year.

 

Kite Fighting Festival (May 3-5)

The Hamamatsu (Kite Flying) Festival is a spectacle of huge kites flying over vast sand dunes. More than a hundred kites take to the sky at Nakatajima Dunes. During the night, a hundred or so palace-inspired floats are paraded along the center of Hamamatsu City. The parade of floats welcomes the young people who participated in the kite fighting contest.

Bonfire Noh Performance (Friday and Saturday on the 3rd week of May)

The Takigi O-Noh is a traditional musical drama performed on an open air stage on the lawn of Kofukuji Temple. The Takigi Noh is performed at a banquet held around the bonfire. For a good view of the show, arrive at the venue early or reserve the best seats in the house.

 

Cormorant Fishing (May 11 – October 15)

Cormorant fishing usually starts at 19:30 in the evening. Called ukai, cormorant fishing is the Japanese way of catching small trout in the Nagaragawa River. Visitors can watch the entire spectable by boarding a small boat while having a great dinner or drinking sake.

Sanno Matsuri (June 9-16)

Sanno Matsuri is a procession of around 300 people in their ancient Japanese costumes as they parade through the heart of Tokyo. The main procession, jinkosai, takes place at the middle of June. The parade starts at the Hie-ninja shrine at 8 am and doesn’t end until early evening.

 

Kanda Matsuri (Saturday & Sunday closest to May 15)

The festival highlights over 100 portable shrines; a procession of people winds around Tokyo streets. The event’s main attraction is the Saturday parade, where 300 people march through Tokyo’s central districts—Otemachi, Marunouchi, and Nihombashi.

 

Bunkyo Tutsuji Matsuri or Azalea Festival (April 24, 29, May 1-3)

The event highlights the performing arts like the Japanese drum performance, the Gongen Taiko, and  Japanese folk dance.

 

Fuji Matsuri (April-May)

Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival) is another chance for you to witness lovely Japanese flowers. This Tokyo Festival is also a great way for you to enjoy the beauty of Japanese culture through musical performances held at the Kameido Shrine.

Hinode Matsuri (May 8 )

The Hinode Matsuri (Sunrise Festival) features a parade of portable shrines followed by Samurai warriors.

 

Shishi Matsuri (May)

The Lion Dance Festival (Shishi Matsuri) highlights a dance tradition that has been practiced for over four centuries. The event is usually held near the shrine during the early afternoon.

 

Honbansho (May)

Honbasho (the Grand Sumo Tournament) is the professional sumo tournament in Japan. It lasts for 15 days, runs twice a year, and is a grand event for professional wrestlers all over the country.