Introducing traditional Japanese summer events

August is one of the hottest months of the year in Japan. In this article, I'll introduce you to some of the traditional Japanese summer events!

Obon (Bon Festival)

Today, August 13, is Obon. In many parts of Japan, the period from 8/13 to 8/15-16 is called "Obon". It is believed that the souls of ancestors come back to this world during this Obon. Many schools and companies in Japan have "Obon vacations" during this time, and people go back to their parents' homes or visit their graves with flowers and offerings. Recently, many people have started to go out for leisure with their families and friends as a summer vacation instead of this traditional way of spending time. During the Obon season, airplane and Shinkansen tickets and hotels become more expensive.

Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival)

Summer festivals are held all over Japan in July and August. It was originally a traditional event for people to thank the gods and Buddha for warding off evil spirits and for a good harvest. At the festivals, there are many stalls and food stands. In addition to food, you can also enjoy traditional Japanese games at festivals.
Bon-odori (Bon dance)

Bon Odori is held in many parts of Japan during the Obon Festival. Originally, this event started as a dance for ancestors who returned to Japan during Obon. Nowadays, however, it has become more like a part of summer festivals.
At the center of the Bon dance is a tall wooden platform called a "yagura," on which the Bon dance tunes are sung and drums are played. The participants dance around the yagura to the music. Bon odori is not a difficult dance, but a simple repetition of choreography. Anyone can participate in the dance by watching and imitating.
Fireworks (Hanabi)

Fireworks aren't just for Japan, but in the case of Japan, many fireworks festivals are held in the summer, mainly during the Obon period. In many parts of the world, fireworks displays are held mainly for celebrations, but in Japan, summer fireworks are meant to appease the souls of the deceased.
Another way to enjoy fireworks is to use handheld fireworks. In Japan, a variety of handheld fireworks sets are sold at supermarkets and convenience stores in the summer, so it is easy to enjoy fireworks.
Many people enjoy summer festivals, Bon dances, and fireworks festivals by wearing yukata, a kimono made of thin summer fabric. Yukata can be rented, or you can buy a set of Yukata for 3,000 yen. There are many YouYube videos on how to put on a yukata.
Unfortunately, due to the spread of the coronavirus disease, many summer events have been cancelled or scaled back this year. The summer events that I have mentioned here are a great opportunity to experience the traditional Japanese summer firsthand. If you come to Japan, please wear a yukata and participate in Japanese summer events!
& DM