Festivals and National Holidays

General Sites

Schauwecker's Guide to Japan: Holidays
This site provides a quick overview of all of the Japanese national holidays and many of the festivals celebrated throughout the year. Links to more detailed information about most holidays and festivals within Schauwecker's Guide to Japan are also provided.

Kids Web Japan: Annual Calendar
Designed for children, this Kids Web Japan page links you to a calendar of the current month. Dates associated with festivals or holidays are linked to pages with background information on the event. More links below the calendar lead to details about local festivals, anniversaries, and events associated with the month. Links to calendar pages for every month are listed at the bottom of the page.

Japan: Holidays and Celebrations
Cultures Speak: Personal Reflections as Teaching Resources

This teaching resource from Indiana University's East Asian Studies Center offers eight short essays by Japanese people about their experiences of five Japanese festivals and holidays: Oshogatsu (New Year), Seijin no hi (Coming of Age Day), Obon (Festival of Souls), Tsukimi (Moon Viewing), Taiku no hi (Sports Day), and Omisoka (New Year's Eve).

Japan Atlas: Festivals
This site begins with a map of Japan and links to details about 26 regional festivals. Provides a photo from each festival; the date, length, and location of the festival; as well as information about the history of the festival and how it is celebrated today. Includes information on Sapporo's Snow Festival, Kyoto's Gion Festival, and Tokyo's Sanja Festival in Asakusa, to name a few.

Stalls for Lucky Days at Temples and Shrines
A four page article from the quarterly magazine Nipponia. Describes the various food, game, and toy stalls (sometimes as many as 100) found along roads leading up to a shrine or temple during a typical ennichi (lucky day) celebration. Color photos of the stalls, in addition to a map of the stalls at a temple, are included.

The Seasons: Paper Crafts
Yamaha Motors offers this page of seasonal paper crafts. Includes instructions in the .pdf format (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, available free from www.adobe.com) for creating paper New Year's kadomatsu and kumade decorations, a demon mask for Setsubun, a doll display for Momo no sekku (also known as Hinamatsuri, Doll Festival), and a warrior's helmet for Tango no sekku (Boy's Day), among others.

Oshogatsu | Japanese New Year

Readings: Japanese New Year
A three page article for use in the classroom by Taeko Shiota, originally written for the Asia Society's Video Letter from Japan II. Describes the New Year's preparations and celebrations of the author's pre-World War II childhood in Osaka, Japan. The reading is followed by three discussion questions.

Osechi Ryori - Japanese New Year Foods - What Do They Mean?
After a short narrative on the history of osechi ryori, this page lists the foods traditionally eaten during New Year's celebrations along with their symbolic meaning.

Seijin no hi | Coming of Age Day

Coming-of-Age Day
Part of Kids Web Japan's Annual Calendar, this page provides background information on Coming of Age Day, celebrated on the second Monday in January.

Setsubun | Lunar New Year's Eve

Get out Ogre! Come in Happiness! Setsubun in Japan: A Lunar "New Year's Eve"
This article by Steve Renshaw and Saori Ihara discusses the origins and history of Setsubun (February 3rd), describes the bean throwing ceremony to chase away evil, and other rituals associated with the festival.

Hinamatsuri | Doll Festival

This page from About.com describes the many different dolls and their traditional arrangement in the doll display during Hinamatsuri. The page also links to a traditional Hinamatsuri song.

Compiled August 2002
Current as of June 2005


Tango no sekku | Children's Day

Tango no sekku
Tango no sekku (May 5th), Boy's Day, is now the national holiday Children's Day. This article discusses the history and origins of the festival, explains the tradition and symbolism of koi-nobori (carp streamers) and other traditional Boy's Day items. A link at the bottom of the page leads to excellent photos of carp streamers flying on Boy's Day.

Obon | Festival of the Dead

Obon - A Spiritual Homecoming for All the Family
This article from Japan Update describes the Okinawan celebration of the three day Obon Festival.

Summertime Is Dance Time
Part of a special feature from the quarterly magazine Nipponia on Japanese dance, this article describes Bon-odori, the Bon Festival dance, within the context of the history of Obon. Numerous color photos of Bon-odori are included.