The Most Popular Japan Events for Every Season
Trying to decide when you should go to Japan? Here's a list of Japan events for every season to help you out.
It is customary for the Japanese people to blend their diet, activities, and every other aspect of their lives with the changing of the seasons. This is a practice that has been passed on for thousands years and still continues to this day.
The Japanese believe that behaving in accordance with the seasons promote good health and life balance. When planning your trip to Japan, the season of your visit plays a huge role.
To help you choose which time of year you'd best like to visit, here are some of the most popular events for each season:
Spring: Cherry Blossom Viewing
Many people, locals and tourists alike, would consider spring as the best season to visit. For about a week or two this time of year, during late March to early April, cherry trees all over the country bloom, filling gardens and parks with delicate pink petals.
Cherry Blossom Viewing or Hanami is one of the most anticipated events in Japan. Locals gather around parks with friends and family to enjoy the breathtaking view with a cold beer and a fancy bento meal. Granted that this is one of the most popular times of the year; accommodations, entrance fees to parks and temples, etc. double in price--making Hanami season an expensive time to visit as well.
When visiting in Spring, it's absolutely vital that you book your accommodation and flight way ahead of time as places do tend to book out months before spring even starts. Tourist hot spots such as Kyoto and Tokyo are especially popular during this time of year, so expect large crowds.
Summer: Festivals and Firework Displays
While the older Japanese folk dread the coming of the hot summer months, children all over the country absolutely love it! Japanese summers are most popular for the numerous festivals and firework displays. Colorful banners, stall after stall of Japanese street food, and people roaming around in beautifully-decorated yukata are all characteristic of summer festivals.
Two of the most popular summer festivals are Obon, a day for honoring dead ancestors, and Tanabata, a special festival to celebrate the once-a-year meeting of the gods Orihime and Hikoboshi who were also lovers. It is customary for Japanese people attending festivals to go wearing traditional summer robes--yukata for women, and Jinbei for men.
Firework displays at night signal the end of the day-long celebration and families usually watch while eating something refreshing to ward off the summer heat.
Autumn: Autumn Foliage Viewing
Next to spring, autumn is considered to be one of the most popular time of year to visit. Many Japanese consider autumn to be their favorite time of year due to the mild temperature, good food, and the autumn foliage.
Much like cherry blossom season, the autumn foliage is a yearly event locals and foreign tourists look forward to. During this season, maple trees around the country change their colors from green to shades of red and orange. Places where the colorful leaves can best be viewed--like Kyoto--are sure to have large numbers of tourists flocking over. Because of this, temples like Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto, have special "autumn viewing" prices and special events. In the second half of November, Kiyomizu-dera, along with other temples throughout the country open special hours for evening illuminations. Usually, a separate price is paid to gain entrance to this event.
Eating hearty seasonal food is also customary during this season to prepare the body for the cold bitter months ahead. Some of the famous foods to try for this season are grilled pacific saury, or "sanma," Matsutake mushroom, and ginko nuts.
Winter: New Year
New Year is by far the most important and widely celebrated holiday in all of Japan. Office workers and employees usually get three days off from work--from January 1 to January 3--to enjoy the festivities with friends and families.
On New Year's Eve, locals would traditionally visit temples around midnight to burn their old good luck charms and amulets to make way for new ones. Because of this, major temples such as Meiji shrine, Senso-ji Temple, Fushimi Inari Taisha, and many others are jam-packed with both locals and tourists. A lot of food stalls and shops open around temple areas this time of year as well to take advantage of the large crowds. Another more recent local custom is to watch the yearly countdown to New Year on TV. The television program contains mostly musical performances by some of Japan's most popular performing artists.
Tourists visiting within this time frame should take note that most tourist attractions and a couple of shops will be closed to give their employees the chance to join in the festivities with their loved ones.
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