Japan is home to amazing festivals that celebrate the seasons all year round. Every town offers its own unique festivals that are enhanced with local foods, traditions and fabulous entertainment.
Travel to Japan in the spring and enjoy the world-renown scenery of cherry tree blooms. Many cherry blossom festivals can be found throughout the entire country during this time of year. Some of the best places for “hanami” or flower-viewing include Mount Yoshino in Nara and Ueno Park in Tokyo. In Hirosaki, the Sakura-matsuri festival is held each spring in a park called Hirosaki Koen. Thousands of cherry trees bloom into pale pink and surround the moat for breathtaking views. Stick around to see the trees illuminated in the evening. Another great spring festival in Japan is one held in Kyoto, called Higashiyama Hana Touro. At this festival everyone gathers with flowers and lanterns in the streets to celebrate and be merry.
In the summer time, two popular favorites are the Sumida Fireworks Festival and the Nebuta Festival. The first, Sumida Fireworks Festival, is among the oldest and largest displays of fireworks lighting up the sky in thousands. The Nebuta Festival held in Aomori and Hirosaki is celebrated by parading beautiful warrior dolls through town. These warrior dolls are a colorful sight and often resemble kabuki costumes. At the Nebuta Festival dances are performed to the beats of traditional drums and fun festival music.
When autumn comes around, Japan is transformed into brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow. The Japanese celebrate this beautiful foliage season with events like the Takayama Festival (held in the both the spring and fall), which is one of the largest festivals in Japan. While the festival in the spring is held to ask for a bountiful harvest, the fall festival is to give thanks. At the autumn festival, the Sakura-yama Hachiman-gu Shrine is involved and magnificent floats parade through the streets to honor the abundance of a good harvest. Autumn is also about the seasonal food, which alone makes it the favorite part of the year for many Japanese.
For the most spectacular winter festivities, you won’t want to miss the Sapporo Snow Festival. Journey to the north where this prime winter celebration is held in Hokkaido every year. The Sapporo Snow Festival is held for a week in February. Take a look around Odori Park, where giant crystallized snow and ice sculptures tower over the crowds with castles and icons that are sure to intrigue even the starkest of skeptics.
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