The 26th National Confectionary Expo will be held in Hiroshima. For almost a century, this expo has traveled around Japan, bringing confectionary marvels of every conceivable shape, size and color, both traditional wagashi style and western style to a most appreciative audience! Sweets from all over the country will be introduced, with a special focus on the host location. The breathtaking artistry will be displayed from April 19th - May 12th, 2013. You can even get some hands-on experience and learn how to make your own confectionaries!
For more information about the expo, please visit here.
The Great Japan Beer Festival 2013, organized by Great Japan Beer Festival 2013 Tokyo, started in 1998. It is currently held at 5 different venues on 5 different dates in Japan (see below), offering the public an alternative to mainstream beers from huge breweries. There will be over 120 different craft beers for you to sample at each festival location, some of which you may not be able to find anywhere else! Some international beers will also be available. Each pour is only a bit over 1 ½ fluid ounce, so you can enjoy yourself and sip away without fear of losing your equilibrium···for a while, anyway.
All the beer you can swallow is yours for the price of admission (separate for each venue). Tickets tend to sell out quickly, so buying in advance might be a good idea! Tickets are available at convenience stores in Japan such as Family Mart, 7-Eleven, Lawson, etc.
So raise your glass and show your appreciation for the small and medium-sized breweries that are producing exciting and distinctive new tastes. Educating your taste buds has never been such fun. Kampai!
Venues & Dates
|Tokyo||April 26th-28th Tokyo MidTown Hall|
|Tokyo||June 1st-2nd Ebisu Garden Hall|
|Osaka||July 13th-15th Kyosera Dome, Sky Hall|
|Nagoya||Aug. 3rd-4th Nagoya International Congress, Shirotori Hall|
|Yokohama||Sept. 14th-16th Osanbashi Hall at Yokohama Port|
Please check the website for each venue, times and ticket prices.
Summer is the season for festivals throughout Japan. Many have a history that reaches back hundreds of years. Big festivals, small festivals, with a few exceptions, most are exuberant, loud and rollicking affairs! You'll enjoy seeing lots of people dressed in summer kimono called yukata, the best way to keep cool in the summer heat. There are also usually many food and craft stalls where you can purchase local goodies. Being an observer (or participant, if allowed!) at festivals is the perfect way to interact with the locals. No doubt you will be whole-heartedly welcomed, and in the relaxed atmosphere you'll discover that this is probably the quickest and easiest way to make friends and learn a bit about local culture!
Amid the plethora of fun summer festivals, here are a few well-known ones you won't want to miss!
|The Sumida River Fireworks, Tokyo, last Saturday of July
View fireworks from alongside the Sumida River, and join in the raucous shouting every time one is lit! This extravagant pyrotechnic display equals summer in Tokyo for many folks.
|Gion Matsuri Festival,
Kyoto, parade on July 17th
This festival is a month-long affair, with the hilight being the massive parade complete with floats on the 17th, and the preceding three nights full of festivities.
|Tenjin Matsuri Festival,
Osaka, July 24th - 25th.
This is a thoroughly Osaka flavored event, right down to the style of handclapping and shouts! Festivities take place both on land, with a parade with portable shrines, and on water, with a torch-lit boat procession, complete with fireworks!
|Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival,
Fukuoka, July 1st - 15th.
Famous for its spectacular float racing, this exuberant festival has been designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.
So put on your yukata, and join in the fun!
For more information on these and other festivities in Japan, please visit here.
One of the major summer festivals in Japan is the Tanabata Festival or the Star Festival. This festival originated from the sad, sweet tale that stems from Chinese folklore about two stars, Vega and Altair, also known as the weaver girl, Orihime, who was the daughter of the Emperor of the Galaxy, and the cowherder, Hikoboshi, who fell in love but neglected their respected duties of weaving cloth and cowherding, thus drawing the wrath of the Emperor of the Galaxy upon them. Separated by the Milky Way, or Amanogawa, and forbidden to see her lover, the weaver girl wept, and the tears moved her father to allow the lovers to meet once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month, but only if it doesn't rain.
In Japan festivities take place usually in early July or August, as August 7th is around the 7th day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar. These festivals, call matsuri, are exceedingly popular with locals and tourists. There are always plenty of food and beverage stalls available with music and lots of entertainment which varies locally from spot to spot. Many local vendors put up elaborate decorations that try to outdoor the decorations of their neighbors.
Common elements in the Tanabata festivals include the display of a large, or several large poles of bamboo, with many small branches called sasatake. This is sometimes called a "wish tree," and people write wishes on colored strips of paper and tie them to the branches in hopes they will come true. Other colorful paper decorations are hung representing things like long life, good health, success in business, in one's studies or skills, and so on.
Some of the major festivals include:
|Sendai Tanabata Matsuri,
Miyagi Prefecture (Aug 6th - 8th)
|Yamaguchi Tanabata Lantern Festival,
Yamaguchi Prefecture (Aug 6th - 7th)
|Kyo no Tanabata, Kyoto
(Horikawa River site and Kamogawa River site) (Aug 3rd - 12th)
|Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri,
Kanagawa Prefecture (July 5th - 7th)
While all of Japan's summer festivals are unique and fun, we are going to focus on a few of the ones that feature dancing! It's so easy to get into the spirit - before you know it, you'll be boppin' to the beat along with everyone.
Generally, each of the festivals includes dancing teams made up of local townspeople and sometimes troupes from all over Japan. These groups spend long hours rigorously training, learning intricate hand, foot and body movements. Beautiful costumes based on traditional design and newer ones that have been influenced by modern fashions can be seen. Traditional music as well as modern keeps the tempo. Most events take place in the evening, but some venues have events from noon into night! There are always wonderful decorations, local tasty goodies to sample, and lots of friendly people available to teach you the dance steps!
Here are some dance festivals that you won't want to miss this summer!
This dance dates back to the late 16th century. Awa is the former name of Tokushima prefecture, and odori means the noun "dance." The unusual dance steps are supposed to represent the tipsy gait of the townspeople as they celebrated the newly built Tokushima castle, while enjoying a generous gift of sake from their feudal lord.
While not as old as the Awa Odori, having begun in 1964, this odori attracts over one million visitors annually! The hanagasa, straw hats festooned with artificial safflowers which are the flower of the prefecture, are worn by groups of dancers - about 10,000 dancers in more than 100 dance groups - and the dance is led off by elaborate floats.
Some say this festival was started in friendly rivalry with neighboring Tokushima's Awa Odori. It is considerable younger, though, and a younger vibe can be felt in its traditional dances and music, some of which is set to modern arrangements. There are many dancing teams from other parts of Japan that show off their moves along with the locals.
The Tetsuya Odori, or All Night Long Dance Festival, refers to the climax about midway through the Gujo Odori, which runs mid-July through early September. People dance continuously from 8pm to about 5am the next morning for 4 days! The Gujo Odori as a whole is slightly different than other dance festivals; there are no special costumes, and tourists are welcome to participate from the very start! The festival takes place in different areas throughout the whole town. The Gujo Odori began 400 years ago, with the hope of encouraging all the townsfolk to come together and dance regardless of social position. It has been designated a Significant Intangible Cultural Folk Asset of Japan.
Warmer months mean Japan Festivals! May and June bring us two great festivals, one in Boston and one in Chicago.
The Japan Festival Boston will be held on Sunday, May 19th, from 10:00am - 6:00pm at the Boston City Hall Plaza. Admission is free, and public access is available.
The Japan Festival Chicago is celebrating its 30th annual festival! It will be held on Saturday, June 8th from 10:00am - 6:00pm and Sunday, June 9th, from 10:00am - 5:00pm at the Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove Village. Admission is free.
Both festivals will feature all sorts of exhibits, many kinds of Japanese food, demonstrations and performances such as martial arts and musical entertainment. These festivals are wonderful ways to introduce Japanese culture to local communities and bring both cultures closer together.
For more information, please visit;The Japan Festival Boston and The Japan Festival Chicago.
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