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Children's Day in Japan

Kids Day

Children's day is a Japanese national holiday held on May 5th every year to celebrate and pray for a child's well-being. Originally referred to as "Boy's Festival," today the event is for all children. The symbol of Children's day is Koinobori. Koinobori are streamers in the shape of a carp. Because carp swim upstream, they became a symbol of strength. Around Children's day, families with boys set up the carp shaped streamers outside their homes. Kabuto (ornamental samurai warrior helmet) and Gogatsu Ningyo (doll warrior) are also common symbols for the day. In peoples' homes, these ornaments serve as protective symbols for boy's health and vitality. Families conscientiously prepare and indulge in traditional foods like Kashiwa-mochi (rice cake wrapped in oak leaves) and Chimaki (rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves).

If you are in Japan on Children's day, join the celebration by discovering some of the below festivals.


Kids Day

Hamamatsu Festival is held every year from May 3-5 in Shizuoka Prefecture and is famous for hundreds of large kites. They soar and fly in the sky over one of the three largest sand dunes in Japan. On the first day of the festival, kites fly to celebrate the birth of a family’s first child and pray for his or her good health. On the second and the third days of the festival, exciting fighting kites ascend to battle it out in the skies. The kite flyers try to cut the strings of their opposition by friction until they burn. As darkness falls, over 100-palace style floats parade at the center of Hamamatsu city. The floats with traditional sculptures are beautifully lit up by lanterns. The sounds of children playing traditional flutes and drums on the floats enlighten the festivities of night during the Hamamatsu Matsuri Festival.

For more information about Hamamatsu Festival, please visit here.

Discover Traditional Festivals in June

After the rains allow plants to grow, early summer beckons. The month of June is a great season to walk around for sightseeing. Tea picking and rice planting are in season and many events and festivals in Japan are associated with these activities. Listed below are some festivals in June. Join the crowd and discover insight into some wonderful Japanese traditions.


Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Festival : Kanazawa city, Ishikawa Prefecture (early June)

Festival 2017

Bullet or express train from Tokyo, Nagoya or Osaka reaches Kanazawa easily within 2.5 hours. The region's largest festival, Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Festival attracts many visitors every year. The festival gives a great awareness of the region's history and traditional cultures. The highlight of the festival is the massive procession starting from Kanazawa station and proceeding to Kanazawa castle. Thousands of local dancers in charming traditional costumes parade the street. Experience traditional cultural activities such as tea ceremonies held at Japanese style tearooms and Noh, a classical stage art performance at Kanazawa castle with a bonfire.

Kaga-Yuzen is a local traditional technique of dying silk. There is a prestigious lantern floating ceremony where a number of lanterns decorated with Kaga-Yuzen elegantly float down the Asanogawa River.

For more information, please visit here.


Sanno Matsuri: Tokyo metropolitan (mid June)

Festival 2017

Sanno Matsuri is one of the three largest festivals in Japan held at the Hie-jinja Shrine in central Tokyo. Processions of children dressed in ancient costumes pray for their healthy growth and happiness. Performances of sacred music and dance are tremendous to see. Jinkosai, held every two years, is the festival known for its big procession and consists of portable shrines and hundreds of people who are dressed in ancient costumes with impeccable drum beat sounds. The procession passes through the Imperial Palace and the chief priest enters the Imperial Palace and prays for the wellbeing of the imperial family.

For more information, please visit here.


Otaue Rice Planting Festival: Osaka city (mid June)

Festival 2017

A charming festival held annually at the Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine near the heart of Osaka city is the Otaue Rice Planting Festival. The Festival depicts the ritual of praying for a bountiful harvest of rice. Rice planting festivals are abundant in various places across Japan. The festival here is distinct because the formal ancient rituals have not lost their traditional values. Performers purified at the Shrine move in the procession towards the rice paddies accompanied by the sounds of traditional wind instruments. There is a belief that the music and dance performances empower the vitality of the rice. A series of remarkable performances of traditional dances are on display in conjunction with rice planted in the rice paddies.

For more information, please visit here.

Hina-Matsuri Festival (Doll Festival)

Hina Matsuri Festival 2017

On March 3rd every year in Japan is the date of a seasonal festival, called Hina-Matsuri and also known as the Peach festival since peach trees are usually in full bloom around this time. Hina-Matsuri is a celebration to pray for the happiness and healthy growth of daughters. A traditional custom for those who have young girls is associated with Hina dolls representing the Emperor and Empress. Altars for the Hina dolls show a variety of decorations with boughs of peach blossoms and offerings of diamond shaped, colored rice cakes. At the celebration table, dishes like Chirashizushi (rice with piece of raw fish, strips of egg, vegetables arranged on top), clam soup, sweet rice crackers and sweet white sake are prepared.

If you are in Japan around this time, get into the traditional celebration mood. Here are some recommendations you can explore.


Hina-no Tsurushi Matsuri Festival (Izu Inatori Hot Springs, Shizuoka Prefecture) (January 20 till March 31, 2017)

Hina Matsuri Festival 2017

Izu Inatori hot spring town is located on the eastern side of the Izu Peninsula; 2.5 hours from Tokyo by resort style express train. Hina-no Tsurushi Matsuri is one of three largest hanging decoration festivals in Japan. Hanging decorations are a custom in the Inatori area going back to the Edo period. During Edo time, Hina dolls on the special alter were prosperous and those who could not afford them sewed hanging ornaments from cloth to wish for the happiness of their daughters.

Bunka Park, 20 minutes by foot from Inatori station, holds the festival that exhibits over 11,000 ornaments. As Inatori is a hot spring town, stretch your legs and relax in the footbaths on site. As the sun retires and dusk falls, nightly transformations depict a romantic atmosphere known as Princess Road. Another main venue of the festival, Mukai-An located within a 10 minute walk from the station is decorated with about 7,700 ornaments. During the festival period, the entire town welcomes all visitors to celebrate the dolls festival. Take an excursion from Tokyo to enjoy a unique experience.

For more information about Shizuoka, please visit here.


Yanagawa Hina-Matsuri Sagemon Meguri (Fukuoka prefecture) (February 11 till April 3, 2017)

Hina Matsuri Festival 2017

Yanagawa is a castle town with a unique landscape that depicts a water district where canals snake through the town in all directions. Yanagawa is located 60 minutes from the Fukuoka Airport and 30 minutes from Saga airport on Kyushu Island. During the festival period, a number of locations are exhibiting Hina dolls and Sagemon decorations. Sagemon are the hanging ornaments including decorative balls and charms made with small cloth, tied together.

The highlight of the festival is a boat parade on March 19. A Shinto priest is on the first boat to purify the journey. The procession follows with boats and a couple dressed as Emperor and Empress, court women and a number of children. On the last day of the festival, the Nagashi bina festival is on a river near the Yanagawa Bridge. Children place their dreams and wishes on paper Hina dolls and let them flow out on the river.

This is one of the top Doll festivals in Kyushu Island and a perfect way to experience traditional culture with local people.

For more information, please visit here.

Japan in Bloom. Cherry Blossom Festival

Spring is Japan's most dazzling season, when thousands of Sakura, cherry blossom trees explode with marvelous wonder. Once spring arrives, people enjoy the season in different ways. Many people enjoy viewing the cherry blossoms or partaking in blossom festivals while some celebrate the season by indulging in sweets shaped like cherry blossoms and tasting Sakura flavored Tea.

There are countless locations for viewing cherry blossoms throughout Japan. Cherry blossom festivals most usually coincide with an array of food and traditional events. Attending a festival at this time is a great opportunity to experience the blooming, traditional performances and local specialties all at once.

If you are lucky to be in Japan during the season, here are some of popular Cherry blossom festivals you cannot miss.

Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival (Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture)(End-April till early May)

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Hirosaki city is in the southwest section of Aomori prefecture located one hour from Aomori airport by bus. Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival draws visitors from across the country and the world every year. Hirosaki Park is home to the ruins of 17th century Hirosaki castle and one of the most spectacular cherry blossom sites in Japan. Wander through about 2,600 blooming cherry trees of over 50 different varieties. Rent a boat to appreciate the blossom reflecting on the water. Sample local specialties from hundreds of vendors and stay late to experience the spectacular nighttime illumination of the trees as they cast a pink and white glow across the park. There are also exclusive lunch meal services with picnic rugs available with advanced booking. Enjoy a lavish assorted meal box consisting of local ingredients while the local groups perform traditional entertainment right beside you.

For more information, please visit here.


Kitakami Tenshochi Sakura Festival (Kitakami city, Iwate Prefecture) (Mid-April till early May)

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Kitakami is located in the Iwate prefecture, located 2.5 hours by bullet train from Tokyo is famous for its 10,000 plus cherry trees. The Kitakami Tenshochi Sakura Festival, with over 90 years of history, may well be one of the most romantic of all of the cherry blossom festivities. Celebrating the beauty with a river cruise or winding waterside strolls. The Cherry trees planted alongside the Kitakami River in the park offer breathtaking sceneries. In particular, take a horse drawn carriage through a tunnel of white cherry blossoms along the park's walkway, or enjoy a panoramic view of the blossoms from a boat along the Kitakami River. From early April to May 5th (Children's day in Japan), you can witness hundreds of colorful carp-shaped cloth flags displayed across the river. When the wind passes through them, the carp appear to be swimming upstream, a symbol of strength and perseverance.

For more information, please visit here.


Fuji Shiba-Sakura Festival (Yamanashi Prefecture) (Mid-April till end-May)

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Lake Motosuko Resort Park is approximately 2 hours from central Tokyo. The scenery is majestic as Mt. Fuji exhibits its peak crowned with remaining snow as a backdrop. Over 800,000 stalls of spectacular Shiba Sakura or moss phlox are on display at the festival. This annual festival is unsurpassed in offering both grand splendid sceneries as well as selected local gourmet foods. During the Sakura festival, the Mt. Fuji delicious food festival is a great attraction in the park. Sample various fine meals like noodles and sweets from the Mt. Fuji region at the cafés, various restaurants and food stalls. There are some look out points within the park and a unique footbath look out point is available where you can appreciate the superb charm of the magical "pink carpet" while relaxing your feet. Admire Japan's symbolic icons, Mt. Fuji together with a “pink carpet” of Shiba Sakura in bloom this coming spring. No doubt the visit will give you unforgettable memories.

For more information, please visit here.


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Even if you cannot visit these festivals, simply enjoy Hanami or blossom viewing. Today, friends, family and colleagues gather for a picnic under blossoming cherry trees day or night, sipping sake and indulging in a special box lunch called "Hanami Bento". Participating in a Hanami party is easy. Like going out to a picnic, simply grab one of the tempting bento boxes (boxed lunch) available at any supermarket or convenience store and head to one of the many viewing spots at a shrine, mountains or gardens for a Japanese cultural experience that’s one of kind.




Events in the US: Save the Date!

The New York Times Travel Show

Japan Fair

From January 27 (Fri) - 29 (Sun), 2017, the New York Times Travel Show will be held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in NYC. It's the perfect place to gain information for your next travel experience. Join seminars, talk with experts, enjoy live performances, food tastings and cultural presentations from around the globe.

Come and drop by our JNTO booth (booth #169) and say hi!
We'll answer your questions and help you get the latest travel and event information.

For more information, please visit here.



Information is provided as a courtesy to users of this website. Though the JNTO endeavors to ensure the information is accurate, users of the information are to act on such using their own judgement and at their own risk. Neither the JNTO nor any holder of copyright to the information shall be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any loss or misunderstanding, either direct or indirect, that is incurred as a result of utilizing the information.

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