If your image of Japan is one of serenity and quiet, come experience culture shock with purely Japanese local century-old traditions celebrated in lively, and sometimes brash, festive fashion.
Matsuri is among the most colorful aspects of Japanese life. The original meaning “Matsuri” implies “to call a God.” Japan was originally a county of farmers. They gave offerings and comfort to the local deity to show thanks for good harvest and pray for an even better one for next year.
Mikoshi are portable shrines in which the spirit of a god reposes during festivals, carried by bearers pushing it here and there to their chorus of “Wasshoi! Wasshoi!”
Kagura are sacred music and dance performed on a Shinto festival. The performances change from place to place and usually include mythical and legendary tales mimed by masked actors accompanied by kagura orchestra of flutes, drums and other instruments.
During festivals, in some places you enjoy dashi and in other places mikoshi or kagura, dashi are sort of mobile pavilions on wheels, made of wood and usually decorated with flowers, halberds, dolls and so on. Musicians on the dashi play traditional music instruments including flutes, drums, and gongs, cheering up festival mood. Dancers play dance celebrating Shinto gods. Matsuri are mostly celebrated annually during summer and autumn. Many of them are not so large in scale and not so major, but you can enjoy a festival atmosphere with crowds of local people. But it is not too late to enjoy these unique Japanese parties. Below in this article are festivals scheduled to be held in autumn this year. These festivals are all accessible in a single day from Tokyo.
Nikko Toshogu Shunki Taisai –Grand Festival of Autumn
Make October 17th a day to enjoy the autumn festival at Nikko Toshogu Shrine, a complex of beautiful structures dedicated to Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun of the Tokugawa era. Included in the festival is a procession of a thousand warriors dressed up in period costumes.
Experience the Ohara Hadaka Festival, or the Naked Festival on September 23, on the Pacific Coast of Chiba Prefecture! Watch as 18 portable shrines battle each other and are carried into the sea by young men wearing only loincloths.