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Tohoku’s Kizuna Festival Raucously Blends Six Great Traditions

Tanabata Festival in Sendai Japanese festivals are raucous and joyful events, filled with noise and songs. For a unique opportunity to see the customs of six communities in one special event, the Tohoku Kizuna Festival can be ideal....

The Famed Oto Fire Festival of Wakayama Prefecture

Wakayama Shingu Fire Festival
Men of all ages – dressed in white with a thick rope tied around their waist – congregate at the shrine carrying wooden torches. At Kamikura Shrine in Shingu city, every year on February 6, the Wakayama Oto...

Hokkaido Events: Lake Shikotsu Winter Ice Festival

Hokkaido Ice Festival
If we could recommend just one winter festival in Hokkaido, it would definitely be the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival, held in late January, through February. Once you reach Lake Shikotsu, you will be astonished by its breathtaking beauty. The lake's surface is...

Matsuri, the Sacred Rituals of Prayers and Festivities

Since ancient times, Japanese have gathered at sacred places — a great boulder or ancient tree — to commune with the kami. There, they made offerings and prayed for the safety and prosperity of their communities. This is the origin of the...

Kanazawa Carries On Edo-Era Kaga Tobi Firefighter Festival

For a truly surprising event packed with Edo-era charm, head to Kanazawa for the annual Kaga tobi firefighter festival.  Kanazawa Carries On Edo-Era Kaga Tobi Firefighter Festival Sometimes, traditions have hidden...

Heat, culture, chaos: the real Gion Matsuri.

Kyoto is a city that many consider to be the perfect embodiment of the truest 'Japanese sensibilities.' Refinement, subtlety and a restrained aesthetic create a type of harmony that permeates all facets of life in Japan. Minimalism, restraint and the beloved 'wabi-sabi' are all forms of a distinctly Kyoto-esque identity. Enter the Gion Matsuri: a night of hot air, cold beer and a touch of ancestral transcendence.