Japan is a country with a rich cultural heritage, and the month of April is especially important as it is marked by several traditional festivals that celebrate the arrival of spring. The start of the month is characterized by the beautiful and symbolic cherry blossoms, while the end of the month is celebrated with the popular Golden Week holiday. In between, there are a number of festivals that showcase the diversity and vibrancy of Japanese culture.
One such festival is the Kanamara Matsuri or the ‘Festival of the Steel Phallus’. This unique festival is held on the first Sunday of April in Kawasaki, just outside of Tokyo. The festival is celebrated to promote sexual health and fertility, and features a large wooden phallus which is paraded through the streets.
Another famous festival is the Takayama Matsuri, which is held in the old town of Takayama in the Gifu Prefecture. The festival is celebrated twice a year, in April and October, and is considered one of the three most beautiful festivals in Japan. The festival features large, ornate floats called ‘yatai’ which are pulled through the streets by teams of people in traditional dress.
Other festivals that take place in April include the Wisteria Festival at the Ashikaga Flower Park, the Yayoi Festival in Nikko, and the Himeji Castle Cherry Blossom Viewing event. All these festivals showcase the beauty, culture, and diversity of Japan, making them an important part of the country’s cultural heritage.
Japan’s festivals in April are not only about cherry blossoms and traditional culture, but also about vibrant colors and festive atmosphere. One such festival is the Yabusame Shinji, held in the city of Kamakura in the middle of the month. Yabusame is a type of mounted archery that dates back to the Kamakura period (1185-1333), and the festival is a reenactment of a historical event that took place in 1180. The festival takes place at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, a sacred site that is dedicated to the god of war and patron of samurai. The main attraction of the festival is the Yabusame performance, in which skilled archers on horseback shoot arrows at three wooden targets. The archers wear traditional attire and carry ceremonial bows and arrows, and the sound of their galloping horses adds to the excitement of the event.
Another festival that celebrates the beauty of colors is the Hiroshima Flower Festival, held in the city of Hiroshima on the first weekend of April. The festival is a celebration of spring and the blooming of cherry blossoms and other flowers. The highlight of the festival is the Flower Parade, which features colorful floats decorated with flowers and led by performers in traditional costumes. The parade attracts thousands of visitors, who come to admire the beauty of the flowers and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Other colorful festivals in April include the Takayama Spring Festival in the mountainous region of Hida, the Hakata Dontaku Festival in the city of Fukuoka, and the Kanamara Matsuri in Kawasaki, which celebrates fertility and is known for its phallic-shaped decorations.