April is a special time of year in Japan, filled with a variety of festivals and events that are steeped in tradition and cultural significance. Perhaps the most well-known of these events is the cherry blossom season, which draws millions of visitors each year to marvel at the pink and white blooms that blanket the country.
Known in Japan as sakura, the cherry blossoms are typically in full bloom in early April, though the exact timing varies depending on the location and weather conditions. In addition to admiring the blossoms, many people enjoy the tradition of hanami, or flower viewing, by having picnics or parties under the trees.
But cherry blossom season is just one of many events happening in Japan in April. Another notable festival is Golden Week, a series of public holidays that take place from late April to early May. During Golden Week, many people take time off from work and school to travel or spend time with family and friends.
Other popular April festivals include:
- Shirahama Ohama Beach Festival – a beach party held in Wakayama Prefecture, featuring live music and dancing
- Takayama Spring Festival – a two-day festival in Gifu Prefecture that features ornate floats and traditional music and dance performances
- Kyoto Kamogawa Odori – a month-long series of traditional dance performances held in Kyoto
In addition to the cherry blossom season and the events surrounding it, April is also host to several other festivals and celebrations throughout Japan. One such festival is the Kanamara Matsuri, or the “Festival of the Steel Phallus,” which takes place in Kawasaki on the first Sunday of April. The festival is a celebration of fertility and features a parade of giant phallus-shaped shrines through the streets, as well as various other phallus-themed goods and activities.
Another popular festival in April is the Takayama Festival, held in the mountain town of Takayama in the Gifu Prefecture. The festival is known for its elaborate floats, which are adorned with intricate carvings and decorations, and its traditional music and dance performances.
For those interested in traditional Japanese arts and culture, the Miyako Odori in Kyoto is a must-see event. The annual event takes place throughout April and features performances by geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha) in a traditional teahouse setting.
Other notable events in April include the Yayoi Festival in Tokyo, the Nihonbashi Sakura Festival in Tokyo, and the Shingen-ko Festival in Kofu. Each of these events offers a unique glimpse into Japanese culture and traditions, and provides an opportunity for both locals and visitors to come together and celebrate.