March 3rd is Hina matsuri, which is a celebration day for girls. Every household who has a daughter has a set of hina dolls, and people will bring it out of their closets and set it up in their house for display from around early February until mid March.
(Photo Copyright: )
Shiga: Hikiyama Matsuri
[Apr. 9th - 16th]
The most interesting thing you will see at this festival are children (only boys) dressed in traditional costumes and makeup performing kabuki on small stages built on floats. These floats are pulled around on the streets, starting at Hachimangu Shrine in Nagahama. The festival period is long, and each day has a different event.
Gifu: Takayama Sanno Matsuri
[Apr. 14th and 15th]
This festival is known as one of the three most beautiful festivals of Japan. It celebrates the start of the spring, and multiple floats in bright colors and detailed decorations are slowly pulled by participants dressed in traditional costumes, for visitors to see. On each float is a puppet, and they will have short performances as well.
Fukuoka: Hakata Dontaku
[May 3rd and 4th]
This festival is a citizen's festival, and the main event is the huge parade run by over 28,000 people. Each group represents a corporation or a hobby team or a children's team of some sort, and they will dance and perform in their unique costumes.
(Photo credit: ©Fukuoka City)
Iwate: Fujiwara Matsuri
[May 3rd to 5th]
This festival consists of a parade of people playing roles of historical people such as the Fujiwara clan, the family that dominated the politics of the Heian period, and prays for life longevity and good harvest. People will play music and perform classical dances. Events will depend on the day, so be sure to do research prior to visiting.
Kyoto: Aoi Matsuri
This festival is one of the three main festivals of Kyoto, along with the Gion Matsuri and the Jidai Matsuri. It is a parade of about 500 people dressed in costumes from the Heian Period (794-1185). The parade starts at the Imperial palace, and will march all the way to Kamigamo Shrine.
(Photo Copyright: © Q.Sawami/© JNTO)
Tokyo: Kanda Matsuri
This festival is one of the three main festivals of Tokyo which started in the Edo period (1603-1867), along with the Sanja Matsuri and the Sanno Matsuri. It lasts two days, consisting a parade going through Kanda, Nihonbashi, Otemachi and Akihabara. The first day of the parade starts at 8am and runs for almost 12 hours.
(Photo Copyright: ©Y.Shimizu/©JNTO)
[Every 4th Sunday of May]
At Mo-tsu-ji temple, the participating men and women dressed in costumes from the Heian period, sit along the stream and write poems. They are all given a theme, and they must finish writing the poem before the cup of sake runs from the top of the stream to the bottom. The master of the event will then read the poems out loud.
(Photo Copyright: ©Iwate Prefecture/©JNTO)
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