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Japanese Events and Celebrations According to Seasons

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/12 Traditional Culture , , , , ,

Japanese people love outdoor activities. During weekends or holidays, they will surely find ways to enjoy hanging out with their family or with friends. They usually go out for a picnic, barbecue party, camping and other sort of fun things to enjoy. Japanese also gather to celebrate the important events held within the country. The following are some of the popular celebrations held in Japan according to season:

Winter

KanpaiBounenkai

  • Before the year ends in December, Japanese people go out for a year-end party (忘年会/bou-nen-kai). This is a celebration held together with co-workers or friends as a way of forgetting about the bad things that had happened during the year and starting over again. This is the only time of the year where friends get to see each other again due to their busy schedules so they fully enjoy it by partying like there’s no tomorrow. It is during this season that many drunk guys are expected to be found sleeping in train stations and other public places.

Shougatsu

  • 正月/ Shougatsu or New Year in Japan. This celebration is said to be one of the most important events of the year. Despite the chilly weather in winter, people do 初詣(hatsumoude) or the first visit of the year in a Shinto Shrine. While some do their visits in Buddhist temples instead, the purpose is still the same: to pray for good fortune for the new year. Families and relatives then gather in their homes to celebrate.

Spring

hina dolls

(Photo credits: Takato Marui)

Hinamatsuri

  • ひな祭り/hinamatsuri – Dolls’ Festival is held on the 3rd day of March. This celebration is held to wish for the well-being and happiness of the Japanese girls. Families display their hina dolls (refer to the picture above) in their homes and together they eat a delicious meal. Young girls also wear their kimono and visit houses of their relatives and friends.

Hanami

  • 花見/hanami or flower watching is done during spring where people enjoy viewing the (さくら/sakura) or cherry blossom trees. Under the beautiful trees, they have their picnic and they eat and drink together with friends and family or colleagues. Hanami is the first outdoor gathering right after winter and people start to regain their energy and liveliness. One would surely enjoy the pleasant atmosphere during hanami.

Summer

Obon

  • Obon is a celebration for the dead. Japanese families gather to visit the grave of their beloved ones and pray for them. They believe that during this time the spirits return to their homes for a visit. Lanterns are common during this celebration which are lit up inside houses guiding the spirits in their way.
  • This is also the season of fireworks. A series of fireworks display and competitions are held within Japan.

Autumn

jinja

(Photo credits: Kimon Berlin)

Shichigosan

  • 七五三/Shichigosan, which literally means 7 for shichi, 5 for go and 3 for san, is a celebration for children of 7, 5, and 3 years old. Parents celebrate it with their children. Mothers and daughters clad in kimono and together go to the Jinja (shrines). Parents wish for their children to grow healthy and be accepted in the society. Kids receive blessing and good luck charms from a Shinto priest and some sort of snacks right after the ceremony.

What’s common with these celebrations in Japan is that people spend the day with the important persons in their life. It is what makes the event more special since you get to enjoy it better with the ones you love.

Sources:

http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/cool/13-02-18/

http://www.iromegane.com/japan/culture/what-is-bounenkai/

http://www.iromegane.com/society/custom/history-of-shichigosan

http://hospitalityjapan.com/japaneseculture/japaneseseasonalevents.html

http://gojapan.about.com/cs/japanesefestivals.htm/

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