This Month in Japan | December

Like other countries located around the world, Japan is experiencing winter and celebrate the snowfall in their own unique ways. Despite the oncoming cold weather, Japan is remains a popular destination to travel to during the winter because of the festive events, beautiful sceneries, and amazing shopping experiences. Here are some activities and events occurring in December around Japan:

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  • Kasuga Wakamiya On-Matsuri is held in mid December, usually around Dec 15th-18th. “The On-Matsuri is a festival held at Wakamiya-jinja Shrine which stands in the precincts of the Kasuga Taisha Grand Shrine. It was first organized in the 12th Century when an epidemic prevailed, and prayers were offered at this festival for the eradication of the plague and also for the blessing of a rich harvest. This historic festival continues to be one of the largest annual events of Nara Prefecture, attracting a great many tourists.” – https://www.jnto.go.jp/

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  • Sendai Pageant of Starlight is a free illumination event where pedestrians can enjoy the view of tons of LED light bulb to bring in the holiday spirit. It is held outside and throughout the entire month of Dec. “The venue for the light-up is the Zelkova lined boulevards of Aoba Dori and Jouzenji Dori right in the center of Sendai. A good starting point is Kotodai Station at the eastern end of Jouzenji Dori.” – https://japancheapo.com/
  • A event held in mid Dec and again in mid Jan is a flea market where people sell old antiques, toys, food, plants, and fabrics. “Setagaya Boro-ichi is a Tokyo-designated intangible folk cultural asset dating back some 430 years.” – http://www.gotokyo.org/
  • Popular destinations to visit in Japan are Kyoto, Takayama, Tokyo, Hokkaido, Sapporo, and more! These are just a few locations that offers great sight seeing, seasonal food, and famous local cuisines.

This Month in Japan | November

November in Japan is a popular time for people to visit parks, shrines, and gardens to witness the changing colors of the leaves. Also, it is a great time to travel to Japan due to the mild and cool weather. There are various events going on in Japan in which people can participate and have a fun time.

Some events being held in Japan during this month is:

Crowds wait their turn to offer prayers at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, on the second day of the new year Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

Crowds wait their turn to offer prayers at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, on the second day of the new year Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

The Japan Times

  • Meiji Shrine Autumn Festival is held at Meiji Shrine in the distrit of Harajuku from Nov 1-3, 2016. It includes a variety of art and sport performances.
  • Kaki Season – “Kaki are an orange Japanese fruit that come into season in November. They are extremely bitter before they ripen. When ripe, they are sweet with a unique citrus-like taste. Kaki and kaki flavored desserts are widely available in Japan in late autumn.” – http://www.japan-talk.com

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The Japan Times

  • Sumo Kyushu Basho is a sumo wrestling tournament that is being held from Nov 13-27, 2016. Click here for more info on the year schedule.
  • Viewing of autumn leaves in public spaces, and a popular time for people to visit cities with wonderful views such as Kyoto, Sapporo, Tokyo, and more.
  • Shrine, temples, and castle visits are also popular during this time of the year, usually from the fall into the winter and January of the next year for ceremonies, holidays, and receiving/giving blessings.

This Month in Japan | July

Fumizuki, a traditional name for July, refers to “book/origin month. The true meaning of the kanji is difficult to decipher. One theory is that fumizuki is a shortened form of hofumizuki, referring to a time when rice becomes ready for harvest. Another possible explanation is that the name is short forfumihirakizuki, meaning to hope for an improvement in one’s calligraphy skills.

July 7 is Tanabata or the Star Festival, that celebrates the meeting of the deities named Orihime and Hikoboshi. The third Monday of the month is Marine Day, commemorating the return of Emperor Meiji to Yokohama port from a boat trip to Hokkaido in 1876.” – Rightful owner

In July, parts of Japan is experiencing the rainy season while other areas will have very hot and sunny weather. Places in higher elevation like Hokkaido will probably have better weather conditions. There are plenty of things to do and lots of festivals to attend throughout Japan. If you are visiting Japan during this month, prepare an umbrella, sunglasses, and light clothing. Here are some things that are happening in July in Japan:

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Geishas during the Gion Matsuri Festival.

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  • Summer in Japan means that there will be tons of festivals being hosted through out the entire month and country.
    • Gion Matsuri is a festival celebration that occurs in Kyoto for the entire month of July! Hosted in Kyoto, this festivals displays 10 to 20 amazing decorative floats. People come to enjoy the sights and foods, but also to buy good luck charms to ward off evil. For more in depth info on the event, location, time, and its history, click here!
      • Tenjin Festival is big festival held in Osaka that showcases fireworks, parades, geishas, river boats, and so much more. It attracts people from all over Japan to attend this event for For more in depth info on the event, location, time, and its history, click here!
    • For a calendar overview of all the official events happening in Japan during July, click here!
  • Beach season is on full fledge and it’s time to enjoy the coastal regions of Japan. There are a lot of beaches to go to depending on where you want to visit. It is probably best to avoid the most popular beach destinations so you wouldn’t have to compete with so many people on the same beach.
  • For other events/festivals occurring in July, click here!

This Month in Japan | June

June is the start of the rainy season for most parts of Japan. The summer weather is often divided between the rainy season following by the high levels of humidity. Despite the weather conditions, people can still enjoy their time in Japan. It is a good month for travelers to visit Japan because travel prices and the amount of tourists are low. Of course, be prepared for the rainy and humid weather; bring an umbrella and maybe some rain boots.

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Looking for activities to do during the month of June? Here are some events that are occurring in June around Japan!

  1. Sanno Festival is held in central Tokyo from June 7, 2017 to June 17, 2016. Located in Chiyoda-ku and hosted by Hie Jinja, it includes parades, people in dressed in traditional clothes, festival foods, and more! It one of the three major festivals along with Kanda Matsuri and Fukagawa Matsuri. “The Sanno Matsuri is famous as a festival permitted by the Shogun to enter the grounds of Edo Castle during the Edo Period (1603-1867), along with the Kanda Matsuri.” – http://www.jnto.go.jp/
  2. Hokkaido Shrine Festival is located at Maruyama Park in Hokkaido, Japan. It occurs from June 14 to June 16 and about 1 million people attend the summer festival each year. A highlight would be people wearing the summer kimono, yukata, and the endless amount of festival foods.
  3. Other tips for travelers in Japan during June are:
    1. If you want to visit beaches, resorts, or/and amusements, book your tickets and go before July when school children are done with school!
    2. Make sure to check out tours that can give you special deals! Here is a quick link!
    3. For any hot countries: Bring clothes that you could layer with! Also, having a good pair of shoes to walk in all day would help you best when discovering Japan on foot.

This Month in Japan | May

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With the arrival of May, it signals the mass amount of holidays celebrated during this time. People can find that Japan is the most busiest time as everyone is trying to get to their destination and are going away for vacation. At the same time, it can be quite quiet in big cities like Tokyo as most people are not working and visiting other cities or relatives who lives further away. Here is what you need to know for the month of May in Japan:

  • “Japan Golden Week is a collection of four national holidays that take place within a week including Showa Day celebrating Emperor Showa’s birthday; Constitution Day; Greenery Day, a national holiday dedicated to nature; and finally, Children’s Day with families praying for the health and success of their sons.” – http://www.onthegotours.com/
    • Golden Week is in between April 29 to May 5. Make sure if you are planning to a trip to Japan during this time be aware that tourist spots, famous attractions, and traffic will be quite busy. During this time period is when many Japanese people take vacations and have time off work.
    • Children’s Day is on May 5th and it celebrates the happiness, health, and personalities of children! A distinctive feature of this holiday in Japan are the carp-like kites which are used as decorations.
  • The weather in May is probably one of the best time for people to enjoy nature and visit sites. It’s a period of when it is not too hot and before the arrival of the rainy season, so people are more likely to be outside from April to June.
  • For more info & events of Japan in May, click here!

This Month in Japan | April

Uzuki, the traditional name for April based on the lunar calendar, means “hare month.” It has been speculated that the name uzuki corresponds to the year of the rabbit in the Chinese zodiac.

For many years, the only national holiday this month was Greenery Day, on April 29. The 29th was the birthday of the late Emperor Showa so in 2007 Greenery Day was moved to May 4, and April 29 was renamed Showa no hi, or Showa Day.

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Golden Week starts at the end of April in Japan (Showa Day [April 29], Constitution Day [May 3], Greenery Day [May 4], Children’s Day [May 5]). It is common for businesses to give their employees the whole week off, making it a busy time for travel among the Japanese people.” – Credits belong to rightful owner

Other fun facts:

  • The sakura season began in March and continue towards the end of April. Visitors still have time to enjoy the cherry blossoms at local parks and gardens across Japan.
  • Roppongi Art Night is a free event that allows people and tourists to view amazing art collections in the neighborhood of Roppongi. It is an event held from 10AM throughout the night.  “Galleries that will stay open throughout the night: Roppongi Hills, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo Midtown, Suntory Museum of Art, 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, The National Art Center, Tokyo.” – http://www.tokyo-top-guide.com/

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  • Earth Day (April 23-24) is celebrated in Japan through a event hosted at Yoyogi Park. It’s an opportunity for organizations to present their causes to the public and allows people to become informed of other environmental issues. Other features of this event are foods, performances, and music.
  • The 2016 Takayama Spring Festival is held on April 14-15 and it’s located in the town of Takayama. It’s known to host antique floats that are uniquely designed and decorated with lanterns. For more detail on the event, click here!

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This Month in Japan | March

Yayoi is the lunar calendar name for March meaning “new life,” symbolizing the coming of spring.

The only national holiday this month is Shunbun no hi, or Vernal Equinox Day, on March 20th or 21st. This is the official mark of the spring season as well as the unofficial start of the sakura cherry blossom season in much of Japan.

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Girls’ Day, or Hina Matsuri, falls on March 3rd and is one of the most popular celebrations this month. In mid-February, it is customary for families with young daughters to set up doll displays of the imperial court. Families enjoy tasty delights like chirashi sushi and strawberry daifuku while offering prayers for good health, fortune, and happiness for young girls.” – Credit to original owner. 

Other events going on in Japan:

  • March represents the beginning of spring and blooming of cherry blossoms. Cherry blossom viewing is a popular activity with tourists and the Japanese people. And because it only occurs  for a short period of time, many people may gather together to view cherry blossoms at parks at once.
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  • March 14 is White Day and this holiday is when men gives a gift back to the women they received gifts from (on Valentine’s Day). It is also a popular holiday for sales events in major department stores.
  • “A festival to welcome Spring to Nara with a wide range of rituals that take place over 14 days (March 1 – March 14). The main events involve burning giant torches surprisingly close to a 1200 year old wooden building at Todaiji Temple to rain sacred sparks on a crowd standing below.” – http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/japan-in-march

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  • For more info on events in Japan during the month of March, link here!