AnimeFanatika Culture Report: Japanese Festivals (August 1 – 7 2014)

There are quite a lot of festivities in various regions of Japan in this week, some of which are almost a week long, each have interesting roots in the rich mythology of the Japanese Nation. We bring you a culture report about four very unique festivals.

Morioka Sansa Odori (August 1-4)

From 1-4 August
Where: Marioka

It is an annual dance and musical festival held in Marioka, Iwate Prefecture reputed to hold the record as the world’s largest taiko drum ensemble. It celebrates a dance style that originated in Iwate Prefecture called Sansa.

According to legend a demon was causing havoc in that region and the locals prayed to the Gods for help. A god came and confronted the demon and the demon promised to behave. The God asked the demon to stamp his hand in a rock as a seal to uphold this promise, and when the demon did as he was told the people were so happy that they started dancing, thus the Sansa was born.

Here is some great footage of the festival: http://goo.gl/XvXUZY

Aomori Nebuta Festival

From 2-7 August
Where: Aomori City

The Nebuta Matsuri as it is known is a very colorful festival where enthusiastic citizens parade paper floats, inspired by Japanese folklore through Aomori City. Each float is lit with multitude of lights giving it an awesome appearance.

Since the Edo Period this festival has been a high point to the locals but it even has been banned a few times due to fire hazards and also during World War 2 to conserve resources. There is even a local gang called the Karasu-zoku (‘crow gang’) that has tried to disrupt the festival on numerous occasions but the reason why they do it is a mystery. It is sad because this festival is good for city morale and economy.

Here is a colorful look at the festival: http://goo.gl/wb5LaQ

Kanto Festival

From 3-6 August
Where: Akita City

It is a harvest festival designed to scare away devils before autumn harvest and also related to the Tanabata festival that is about the star-crossed lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi. Massive lantern poles with lit lanterns are balanced on the palms, hips, shoulders and foreheads of participants showing their skill and endurance as part of this celebration. These poles can be up to 12 meters! That is about 40 feet! These lanterns are shaped like ears of rice or cedar branches.

Lantern balancing competitions are held and the crowds cheer them on while musicians play traditional music with taiko drums, flutes and other instruments.

Have a look at this very informative pod cast video about the festival: http://goo.gl/sqgw3w

Tanabata

Date 7 August 
Where: Various regions of Japan

We have mentioned and spoke about this festival in great detail in our article Tanabata Festival of the Stars, since it is held both in July and August depending of the region in Japan and is based on the star-crossed lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi.

We at AnimeFanatika have also watched the anime ‘Bryhildr in the Darkness’ in which they talk about the legend of Orihime and Hikoboshi in one of the episodes. More Details on Allen’s review of the anime will be posted on AnimeFanatika’s Facebook page as well as on our blogsite https://animefanatika.co.za/ soon, so keep an eye out for it.

If you missed our article on Tanabata or you feel like reading it again, here is our link: http://goo.gl/BPzjvM

That is all our information of all the festivals happening around Japan this week. Be sure to look in for more on festivals and interesting Japanese Culture articles every week.