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Summer's must-go event in Japan - Summer festival

July 17, 2018

Summer is coming! Are you having fun this summer? 

Speaking of Japanese summer, we have a lot of traditional events for this season like other seasons.

One of the most famous and popular summer events in Japan are 'summer festival' (夏祭り natsu-matsuri).

This is a very special event in Japan with a lot of fun. When you have a chance to visit to Japan in summer, I definitely recommend you to search local summer festival and hit there.

It will be unforgettable experience during your stay in Japan. For those who cannot make it to there and those who wants to learn what's in there. TD blog introduce Japanese summer festival to you!

What is Japanese summer festival  (夏祭り natsu-matsuri)

Japanese summer festival is a bit like fun fair in the UK. It has a lot of stalls of food and game. But, there's normally no rides in summer festival in Japan.

Japanese summer festival (日本 夏祭り)

Summer festivals are taken place in Japan during July and August. From a small town to a big city, summer festivals are literally take place everywhere in Japan.

Most festivals are quite similar in terms of events and contents.

Stalls (出店 or 屋台 Yatai)

First, there're so many stalls (出店- demise). These small shops offer a variety of foods and games.

This is a food stall in summer festival of Japan.

 Japanese summer  festival (日本の夏まつり)

This is a game stall.

 Japanese summer festival (日本の夏祭り)

Tips: Don't play lucky draw in these places. They're notorious as they hardly win a prize!

Secondly, summer festivals often come with amazing fireworks.

Japanese fireworks are great of its variety and technique. It's an art rather than just a tool for celebration.

Unfortunately, not all summer festivals have fireworks. In general, large summer festivals in a big cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama tend to have fireworks in their events. 

日本の夏祭り(Japanese summer festival)

Circling around scaffolding and dance, dance, dance!

Lastly, Bon-odori (盆踊り traditional dance for summer festival) 

Bon-odori is an very unique traditional event in Japan. Compared to western countries, Japanese people relatively do not dance. Only in bon-odori, you may be able to see ordinary (non-professional) Japanese are dancing! 

There're some explanation about how this traditional dance started.  Also there're a few interesting points to mention about as Bon-odori needs some equipment. 

First, people are dancing outside for Bon-odori. That's a golden rule, there's no indoor one. Maybe, just maybe it exists, but I'd say that's not real one!

And there is a large scaffolding in the middle. Like this one below.

Japanese summer festival (日本の夏祭り)

Not large at all? The size of scaffold varies (depending on how big festival is), but some big one is like this big. 

 Japanese summer festival (scaffolding) 日本の夏祭り やぐら

Normally, a big drum (taiko) and a couple of dancers are on stage of scaffolding. Those few dancers are used as model for dance, which means people downstairs can see them and learn how to dance. Actually, there is a (some) pattern for Bon-odori. Don't worry, they're very simple. If you see other people or model dancers on scaffold, you can learn how to dance quickly.

People are dancing around scaffolding. Normally, moving to one direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise). Whenver you're tired or too drunk to dance anymore, you can just leave from this circle.

This video show you how Bon-odori are going. This is very typical Bon-odori in local summer festival. Please look carefully and you'll understand people are actually seeing model dancers in the middle. They also don't know how to dance exactly!

When you have a chance to visit summer festival in Japan, do take part in this dancing circle! Don't be shy. Just have a pint or two in advance, you've got nothing to worry about.

 Thank you


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