Japan’s Culture and Traditions

Celebration of Festivals 

There are countless local festivals (matsuri) in Japan because almost every shrine celebrates one of its own. Most festivals are held annually and celebrate the shrine’s deity or a seasonal or historical event. Some festival are held over several days.

An important element of Japanese festivals are processions, in which the local shrine’s kami (Shinto deity) is carried through the town in mikoshi (palanquins). It is the only time of the year when the kami leaves the shrine to be carried around town.

ImageSapporo Snow Festival – Sapporo, Hokkaido

Large snow and ice sculptures are built in the city’s centrally located Odori Park during the Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri)


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ImageYokote Kamakura Festival – Yokote, Akita Prefecture

Many igloo-like snow houses, called kamakura, and hundreds of mini kamakura are built at various locations across the city during this Yokote Kamakura Festival in one of Japan’s snow-richest regions

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Omizutori – Nara

Omizutori is a Buddhist religious service rather than a festival, held every year at the Nigatsudo Hall of Todaiji Temple. The most spectacular among its many ceremonies, is the nightly burning of torches on the balcony of the wooden temple hall.

ImageTakayama Matsuri – Takayama, Gifu

Large and elaborately decorated floats are pulled through the old town of Takayama. Held in spring and autumn.

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Aoi Matsuri – Kyoto

The Aoi Masturi’s main attraction is a large parade of over 500 people dressed in the aristocratic style of the Heian Period (794-1185) that leads from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to the Kamo Shrines, the festival’s host shrines.

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