Things to know about festivals
Many customs of "festival" remain in various places in Japan. In many cases the origins of these festivals are appreciation and prayers for fruit richness, the heart of honoring Shinto faith, and dedication to ancestry. By the way, in Japan historically, there is a time when festivals equaled religion and politics and they were united, so we still call politics "Matsurigoto (festival)."
These religious festivals have changed over time, changing to something more familiar for people than ever, and it is modern festivals that have been important events for locals. This change seems to have occurred especially in the Edo period (1603-1868), which is said to have blossomed the culture of the common people.
For example, "Gion Festival" held at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto is regarded as one of Japan's leading festivals, and the length of history, luxury, and length of the period (for over a month from July 1st to 31st every year) are widely known. The sight of the town in which such a huge festival is held differs in appearance and usually has a unique aura. To experience such extraordinary atmosphere, many people gather not only from Japan but from all over the world, so it is hard to get through the crowds. Preliminary planning and preparation are necessary for viewing. As well as securing accommodation as early as possible, in the festival to be held during the summer period, attention must also be paid not to forget hydration supplementation measures against heat stroke.
In addition to the festival which is carried out as a festival of the shrine based on the history, like the "Gion Festival," there are also cases where an event that was born in the present age is called a festival. An example is "Sapporo Snow Festival," which is held at a venue in Sapporo City, Hokkaido early February every year. It is a festival that attracts many visitors as events competing for the beauty of statues made of snow, and these events are included in the festival category in the broad sense.
People who were born and raised in festival-rich areas have immeasurable passion for the festival, but no matter how busy they are, there are many people who return to their local area only during the festival season. From these behaviors, you may feel the importance of the festival for Japanese people.
Small festivals held in local areas are also interesting. As the place used is often inside the precincts of a shrine, light meals such as starch syrup and popcorn are sold at stalls, and one can enjoy old-fashioned fun of shooting, lottery, and goldfish scooping. There are many Japanese who have childhood memories with the orange bare light bulb in darkness as the festivals are held from late afternoon to night. Entrance fee, etc. are not charged, and even though a place called a shrine is used, it is not restricted by religion. Since these festivals are often held from summer to autumn, please do not hesitate to take a peek at them when traveling in Japan at this time.