Summer festivals are an important summer event in Japan. There are hundreds of small festivals for the local community, and many famous festivals that invite people from all over the world. During the summer, Japan celebrates O-bon, the period to celebrate the dead. In order to calm the spirits, people sang and danced together outside (known as Bon-odori), and this became the origin of summer festivals today. Now, the festivals have more features and customs besides singing and dancing.
All festivals have stalls that sell food and drinks, such as Japanese fried noodles, sausages, cotton candy, Japanese cider that come in glass bottles (ramune), snow cones, and beer. There are also game stalls for little children to enjoy. Many festivals have big fireworks for the climax of the night, and these big fireworks have become so popular, that there are many festivals that hold firework competitions. Firework makers from all over the country participate and show their best work.
People of all ages come to the festivals with their family, friends, or as a couple. Most women wear traditional Japanese summer gowns, called the yukata. Young girls wear yukata with bright colors with fancy flower patterns, and adults wear more cool and calm colors with less bold patterns. Men also wear yukata, but the colors are usually black or blue, and tied with a smaller belt (obi).
Here is a list of the three big summer festivals held in Japan.
- “Gion Festival” in Kyoto prefecture
- “Tenjin Festival” in Osaka prefecture
- “Sannou Festival” in Tokyo prefecture
If you want to see beautiful fireworks, here are the three biggest firework competitions.
- “Omagari National Japan Fireworks Competition,” in Akita prefecture
- “Tsuchiura All Japan Fireworks Competition,” in Ibaraki prefecture
- “Nagaoka Fireworks Festival,” in Niigata prefecture
Though not chosen as one of the top three firework competitions, I have been to the “Ashikaga Fireworks Festival,” in Tochigi prefecture. Here is a picture I took on my iPhone.