3 Traditional Japanese Festivals that you cannot miss this Spring 2024

04:23 01/29/2024

Japan is famous for its plethora of seasonal festivals, with each season having its own charms: Spring is the season of cherry blossom festivals, huge firework displays for summer, the foliage during autumn, and snow festivals for winter.

Spring festivals in Japan mark the beginning of the year and allow you to learn a lot about the country’s interesting culture while also having fun, indulge yourself in the festivities, and appreciate the beauty of nature and the people here. In this article, GoEMON will introduce you to 3 traditional festivals that you should not miss out on in Japan this spring. Let’s jump right in, shall we? 

1. Hina Matsuri 

Hina Matsuri, or Hina Doll Festival, is an event featuring the display of dolls and cherry blossoms to pray for the healthy growth of young girls in Japan. It is one of the five seasonal festivals held on auspicious dates of the Chinese calendar and was historically held on the third day of the third month of the new year according to the Lunar calendar. After the adaptation of the Gregorian calendar in the Meiji Period, the date was fixed on 3rd March. 

In this holiday, families will display a set of ornamental Hina dolls, along with other decorations such as cherry blossoms and peach blossoms. Typical foods include hina-arare rice crackers, chirashizushi, raw fish, hishimochi (multi-colored rice cakes), ichigo daifuku, sakura mochi, and ushiojiru (clam soup). 

2. Koinobori Matsuri 

Flying Carp Streamer Festival - Koinobori Matsuri is a Japanese festival that celebrates Children’s Day on May 5th by hanging colorful carp-shaped streamers outside homes: the biggest black one represents the father, the next biggest pink or red one represents the mother, and additional smaller ones in different colors representing the children in descending age order. 

The event was traditionally only for boys as May 5th used to be Boy’s Day (Tango no Sekku). The date was then converted into Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi) instead and thus now celebrates the happiness and well-being of children regardless of gender. Carps are known to be resilient, and the hanging of said carp streamers symbolizes the hope that the children can also grow up healthy, strong, and full of energy like the fish. 

3. Sakura Cherry Blossom Festivals

When it comes to spring in Japan, one thing that you definitely cannot miss out on is Cherry Blossom viewing. Commonly called Hanami in Japanese, in which “hana/花” means flowers and “mi/見” means to look at, going to see the cherry blossom in full bloom is an activity enjoyed by all Japanese regardless of age and gender. Thus, there will also be many Cherry Blossom Festivals during this period where people can participate to admire the beautiful flowers, savor the delicious food sold at the yatai (food stalls) nearby, and enjoy the many traditional Japanese performances with their family and friends. 

There is no fixed schedule for these festivals as they are usually held when cherry blossoms are in bloom, which largely differs depending on the region. However, they will generally be held during the period from around mid-March to early April. 

If you have the chance to be in Japan during this period, definitely don’t miss out on these 3 traditional festivals! 

Don’t forget to follow GoEMON Global for the latest updates on life in Japan!