Summertime in Japan means lots and lots of festivals. I mean, every weekend is an excuse for a get-together, right? Like weekend BBQ’s and pool parties in the US, weekend festivals are everywhere here in Japan. Right now — mid-August — is the height of the summer vacation season, with the school holidays winding down toward the new school year.
In recent weeks — here in Tokyo — we have been to a paper lantern festival in Odaiba, a Hanabi (fireworks) festival in Asakusa, a Mikoshi (portable shrine) festival also in Asakusa, and another Mikoshi festival in Fukagawa at the Tomioka Hachiman Shrine. Every weekend there are fireworks, beer gardens, food festivals, and children’s festivals at various locations all around Tokyo. Some, like the Mikoshi festivals, are associated with the Shinto religion, some are Buddhist, and some… just for the fun of summertime.
At all of these festivals there are crowds of people, lots of activities, plenty of amazing Japanese street food (future blog post!!), and beer gardens. The summer in Tokyo is hot and steamy. The weather at times can be sweltering-ly miserable. I don’t really recommend a visit here during the summertime… except that there are so many great activities and festivals to attend. So much to see, so much to do… and everyone has a good time!
Coming up this week… and into the weekend… is the Obon Festival. The Buddhist tradition of honoring one’s ancestors. Something like a combination of Memorial Day and All Saint’s Day/Halloween in the US. Here is a Wikipedia link: