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Japanese Festivals

Updated on October 22, 2011

The Japanese culture is one of the most fascinating and colorful cultures in the world.

Every thing about the Japanese culture, from the food to the dressing and to the festivals are unique and attention grabbing.

The Japanese festivals called as masturi in Japanese are based on their religious and cultural beliefs; some of the most famous festivals of the Japanese culture are given below:

New Year’s Eve celebrations

The coming of the New Year is celebrated with a great zeal throughout Japan. In Kyoto a sacred fire is kindled in the Yakusa shrine, Okera Mairi.

It is believed that the fire will bring joy and happiness to those who will cook their first meal of the year with the embers of the holy fire.

Kyoto Fire
Kyoto Fire

Special foods known as Osechi Ryouri is cooked and sold all over the country. The tradition of Osechi Ryouri is not new for centuries this special cuisine has been cooked on the New Year’s Eve followed by large feasts.

Seijin No Hi

This festival is one of the oldest festivals and traditions of the Japanese culture. It is celebrated on the 8th of January after the celebrations of the New Year have ended.

Young ladies dressed in Kimonos at Seijin No Hi Festtival
Young ladies dressed in Kimonos at Seijin No Hi Festtival
People throwing beans at the Setsubun Festival
People throwing beans at the Setsubun Festival

The ancient Japanese, when their daughters turned 18 and became legally adult, brought them expensive and new kimonos, got them dressed and sent them to nearby Shinto shrine to pray for health, success and money.

Later they were sent to special lady tutors who taught them how to properly act like women, as they now had stepped into womanhood leaving the girlhood behind.

The tradition is still followed, only that today’s women don’t go to a tutor and this is probably the only time of the year when the entire women of Japan are seen wearing kimonos. The festival is still celebrated as a religious obligation.


Setsubun is celebrated on the 2nd and the 3rd February, which are the first two days of spring in the ancient Japanese lunar calendar.

Through out the country the traditions associated with the festival such as maki maki, bean throwing and shouting of ‘Fuku wa uchi, oni wa oto’ are celebrated with a great enthusiasm.

Most celebrations in Tokyo are carried out in the Zojoji Temple present behind Tokyo Tower and Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa.

In Kyoto special Setsubun performances are carried out in Mibu-dera. The demon chase and the fire festivals of Yoshida Jinja are very famous traditions of the festivals.

Dolls at the Hina Masturi Festtival
Dolls at the Hina Masturi Festtival
Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo
Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo
Tanabata Matsuri
Tanabata Matsuri

Hina Matsuri

Hina matsuri is yet another very ancient and popular festival of the Japanese culture. The festival is celebrated on the 3rd march of every year through out the entire country.

The festival is also called the Doll festival or Momo-no-sekku in Japanese.

The festival is marked by the tradition of giving girls of all the age a doll, believing that all the evil spirits surrounding the girl will be transferred into the doll.

The girl then throws away the doll into a river getting rid of all the evil.

Special food dishes such as: Hishi-mochi, Shiro-zake and Sekihan represent the celebrations of the Hina matsuri festival.

Birth Of Buddha

Buddhism is followed by more than half of the population of Japan hence the 8th April which is the birth date of Buddha is celebrated throughout the country with great fervor.

Every Buddhist temple of the country observes the holy ceremony of Kanbutsu-e where sweet tea is poured over a statue of infant Buddha placed on a small table with flowers.

This ceremony is also called the baptism ceremony.

Sakura Matsuri

The sakura matsuri or the cherry blossoms festival is one of the happiest festivals of the Japan's culture.

This too like the Setsubun marks the celebration of the spring season.

Tanabata Matsuri

Tanabata matsuri or the star festivals is celebrated on the 7th of July.

It is believed that on this day Kengy the Altair or the Cowherd star and Shokujo the Vega or the Weaver star which are in love get united.

According to the custom, people pray facing the stars and young people write their wishes on small pieces of paper and place the pieces on sticks of bamboo set up in a garden.

The Tanabata masturi is very popular amongst children and teenagers.


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    • profile image

      britney benns 5 years ago

      does japan do xmas?????????

    • Jhangora profile image

      Dinesh Mohan Raturi 6 years ago from Dehradun

      Really informative Hub Hassam. Keep up the good work.