Although I dislike the oppressive heat and humidity of summer in Japan, I’m a big fan of Japanese summer festivals, a great excuse to wear a yukata and mingle with hundreds of other people while you drink beer and eat good food. Japanese love to celebrate festivals, and every city and town in Japan has its own unique traditions. Some of the more famous festivals in Japan include the Awa-Odori Festival in Tokushima, Shikoku, which features teams of dancers moving like the foam on the sea (awa) after a wave has crashed (there’s a small festival held in Tokyo too); the Daimoji Matsuri in Kyoto, in which the character 大 dai (meaning “great”) is written on the side of a nearby mountain with bonfires; and the Nebuta Festival in Aomori, with its famous Edo Period floats. Each festival is different from all the others, but most involve festival-goers carrying a heavy omikoshi (a kind of portable Shinto shrine) through the town and playing of taiko drums while wearing traditional samurai underwear. One of the highlights of a Japanese festival are the food stalls which sell everything from takoyaki and taiyaki to cold beer to a delicious boiled-potato-and-butter treat called Jaga Butter, and I’m always happy to sample what they’ve got. If you’re ever making plans to visit Japan, be sure to look up what festivals will be going on while you’re here.
I’m a fan of summer festivals in Japan.