What is the Matsuri (Japanese cultural festival)?
Why do Japanese people have a passion for the Matsuri? Let's feel Japan deeply, explore the reasons and get some information about well-known Japanese cultural festivals!

Japan is full of charm in each region and its four seasons. The Japanese have believed that God dwells in everything as said, "eight million gods." Matsuri (Japanese cultural festival) is held to show thanks to God for nature, for life and for growth in a community.
It is also an opportunity for Japanese people with severe and hardworking images to explode their energy. Why do Japanese like Matsuri so much? First of all, let's divide the general cultural festivals and explain it under headings to look at the features.

Knowing the festival is knowing Japan. You can experience the history you don't usually see, interact with local people, and see new aspects. When it is a festival, people are very open, and you can interact only at that time.
By all means, please go to various festivals and feel the energy of Japan.

1. What is the Matsuri?

The original purpose of the Japanese cultural festival is to thank God. The etymology of the word "Matsuri" is also "enshrined." Matsuri refers to the comfort, prayer, show gratitude to the ritual of Nature, and it originates from the indigenous God (Shamanism), Shinto, or Buddhism. The concept of "Hare" and "Ke" is essential in understanding the feelings for the Japanese festival. "Hare" is "non-daily" and "Ke" is "every day". The festival is "Hare," and it is meant to reset "Ke" by conducting it gorgeously.
The Japanese look forward to the opportunity of this "hare," and it is the source of vitality to live the daily life of "Ke."

There are also new things that are unrelated to God. For example, festivals for regional revitalization, or Seasonal Festivals which derived from the season such as Snow Festival and Cherry Blossom Festival, or Era Festivals or Parades which for celebrating great historical victories, or festivals of foreign origin typified by Samba Carnival and Spring Festival.

2. What is the Mikoshi (portable miniature shrine)?

Speaking of Matsuri, it won't be separated from "Mikoshi."。
A mikoshi is a "portable miniature shrine" vehicle that God rides to travel around the area during the festival. The bearers who wore the festival costume called Hanten or Happi, while carrying a Mikoshi on the shoulder, will go around the neighborhood of the shrine. It said that it is done to absorb the disaster and the Aiyoku (injury), to purify, and to hear the prayer and the wish of people's good harvest.
The charm of the Mikoshi is the heat of the bearers. There are hundreds of kilograms of heavy objects, many of whom are put together and carried on their shoulders. People who live in the town are superstitious, so it contributes significantly to the formation of local communities.

3. What is the Float?

Like a portable miniature shrine, it is "floats" and "Taiko-dai" to go around the town with God's rides. These are the acts that are drawn and played in the event of a festival. It is heavier than the Mikoshi, the wheel is attached, and many pulled by manpower.
Why is a "float" said as "mobile's mountain"? Because it is the one that it was made to imitate the mountain of nature. The floats were made to invite and to stay with God during the festival because God felt that it descended on the rock and the Tree of the mountain and the mountaintop. Then, as God was more than happy, the ornate decorations were obliged, and as the players and performers became able to ride, and the wheels were attached so that they could be seen in the town, it became the present form.

The "Taiko stand" derived from the floats is also attached to the wheel, but here there are features such as hitting a drum in the middle, the bearers stick is attached, most of which can be seen in western Japan areas such as Kansai and Shikoku.
Many of the floats and taiko stand that God rides decorated with gorgeous decorations such as flowers and Dolls. Elegance like the Gion festival in Kyoto, you can experience the beautiful world of history scrolls. Completely different atmosphere, please enjoy.

4. What is the Fire Festival?

It has been believed that in many civilizations around the world, the fire has extraordinary power. Japan was not an exception, and a variety of fire festivals were born in search of the purification by fire and the strengthening of the spiritual power by the flame. Its history is old and lasts for more than a thousand years. Japan fire festivals characterized by burnt fire or using many torches.
Also, there are some other little dangerous cultural festivals, such as walking on hot coals or jumping into flames. A famous one is "Toba Fire Festival" held in Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture. It jumps into the fiery flames, sacred tree and the twelve ropes competing, and the temple is terrific, and it conveys the primitive appearance of the Japan festival.

To Fire Festival feature article

5. What is the Bon Odori (Japanese traditional folk dance)?

"Bon Odori" is a dance for serving the ancestors in the period of "Bon" (July and August) derived from Buddhism. There are more than 1,000 kinds of Bon Odori Japan nationwide. Tower in the center of the square, according to the form dances, dance with the Ondo (Japanese folk music) while circling the tower is typical. Because anyone can participate willingly, it is the enjoyment of the ordinary people for a long time, and it is familiar as a tradition of summer.
Among them, "Japan three great Bon Odori" is called "Nishima Odori" in Akita Prefecture, "Gujo Odori" in Gifu Prefecture, and "Awa Odori" in Tokushima Prefecture. These are spread across the region and enjoyed throughout the country.

6. What is the Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Festival)?

The festival of Japan that the tourists from foreign countries are most shocked is "Naked Festival". That is a festival that literally participates in the Fundoshi (loincloth) as close to nudity.
For the Naked festival, there is a different meaning in each, such as Shiofumi, a procession that sees each mikoshi carried into the sea one after the other or Sominsai, religious ritual at Kokuseki Temple in Iwate Prefecture or "Saidaiji Eyo" from Okayama Prefecture. The name "Naked Festival" is a general term of the festival held in the loincloth that was recently attached. Actually, there is no Japanese cultural festival category as Naked Festival.
Why do you do it naked? It is said to be a form of birth and negotiate with God in the form of purity. Many of the naked festivals are held at milestone times, such as New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, and Summer's exorcist festival, because it shows the resurrected appearance and the meaning of paying Aiyoku (injury).
The priest throws two branches of wood (Shingi) into the half-naked crowd. Then a fierce scramble by a naked group. The person who took this treasured tree is called Fuku Otoko (Blessed man of the year), and it is known that the fortune obtained.

7. What is the Nebuta?

Speaking of the most popular Japan festivals abroad, it is "Nebuta." That is a summer festival held in the northernmost part of Honshu, Aomori Prefecture, and is carried out by pulling the doll-shaped or fan-shaped floats. Originally, it is rooted in the lantern sink with the intention of Requiem. The first thing you will be noticeable is the massive floats. The brave floats on the theme of History and mythology are the highlight of the night sky.
The dancers who are said to Haneto the festival are the people who jump. Dressed in a glamorous outfit, they dance like a jump. Nebuta is the best stage to enjoy the short summer of the northern provinces and to explore the energy.
What is more pleasing to travelers is that anyone who wears a costume can participate as a haneto. In Aomori City and Goshogawara City, the rental costume shop is available, so you can go and participate on that day. Let's dance together with the locals to make your musical band exciting!

8. What is the Hanabi (Fireworks)?

Japanese Fireworks is like writing "Flower Fire," its beauty, pomp, and transience are unique. Its history dates back to the Edo period (the 1600s) and has been popular with people since ancient times. It is the one that the mind to do the memorial, and the Requiem by the Power of a sacred fire put through it enjoys the beauty.
The feature of Japanese fireworks is that it spreads around. It blooms greatly and neatly, and it changes beautifully. You can enjoy a dynamic production of fireworks. You can see characters and pictures, and those representing Mount Fuji and Niagara Falls.
Also, it is a hand tube fireworks to be nervous. The cylinder held by hand and the Power of the fire ejected in the air, and the last ruptured while being held. It is said that the side as the ritual is strong. It is a fireworks display in Japan nationwide, but the fireworks of Omagari (Akita Prefecture), Sumida River Fireworks Festival (Tokyo), Nagaoka Fireworks (Niigata Prefecture) are famous.

9. What is the Tsunahiki Festival (Tug of War)?

The tug of war event becomes a festival. That is an event in which participants are divided into two groups and pull long and thick ropes made of straw.
Originally, the ritual that was done to beg for rain has become a prototype, and the rope mimics a huge python or a dragon. Because according to the old beliefs of the people: snakes appear when it rains or Dragons do the thunderbolts. They have been considered as the angel of water gods. It is an important event to increase the unity power of the region by competing with each other in the recreation as the strength comparison. In rural and fishing villages, it was essential to grains the abundance of crops and fishing, and to celebrate the exchange with other regions in the city of trade.
The famous is Naha Matsuri. Registered in Guinness Book Records as "the world's best rope made of rice straw." There is also a folk traditional arts parade or you can join and pull the rope. Why don't you join forces, shout out loud, and have fun together?

10. What is the Raiho-shin (ritual visits of deities in mask and costumes)?

That is the ritual visits of deities in mask and costumes, "Namahage" of Akita Prefecture. On the night of New Year's Eve, young people in the village wear this face, dressed as raw bald, and go around the houses.
Namahage is one of the visiting gods in all Japan. In 2018, along with the Amamehagi of Paantu and Noto in Miyako Island, the "Gods of the visiting God Mask and Masquerade" were registered as UNESCO Intangible cultural heritage.
These visiting gods are the messengers of God, and once a year, they visit the human world at a milestone such as the New Year. It is expressed by the appearance of a variant, and the person who dressed up the mask visits the house and the village. It's scary to look at, but it's said to give the lazy and bring happiness.

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