4 Things First-Time Visitors Should Expect during Japanese Summer Festivals

Just like any other country, Japan has several festivals for all seasons that are celebrated the whole year round. The country has a lot of traditions and customs that are centuries old and continue to be held to this day. June is the start of the summer festival in the country, and there are a lot of things you should look forward to during this season.

Apart from the sunny weather from June to August in Japan, you should also expect humidity and a bit of rain. Protect yourself from these elements by putting on sunscreen, wearing sunglasses, and by drinking lots of water to hydrate yourself. If you are visiting Japan during the summer months, check the local area for upcoming summer festivals, or natsu matsuri, so you can experience what it’s like.

If you want a bit of information for what you should expect during these joyous celebrations, read on below.

Kimono Everywhere

In the past, the Japanese wear kimono every day as their clothing, but nowadays, people don’t wear it as much due to the availability of modern clothing. However, in traditional events like the coming-of-age ceremony, formal tea, or even weddings, the kimono is still used. There are actually many types of kimono that are worn the whole year round.

In the summer, people wear the yukata, which is a type of kimono that is unlined and made with breezy and light fabrics to help the wearer be more comfortable in the heat. It is considered more casual and less expensive than a regular kimono that is lined, heavy, and made of silk. If you will attend a natsu matsuri or summer festival, the wearing of yukata is still popular among Japanese teens and even older people.

If you want to wear a yukata during the festival, it can be kind of intimidating to wear. Fortunately, there are a lot of tutorials you can find on the internet to help you wear it. There are shops around Japan where you can rent one and the shop attendants will help you wear it. You can also buy a yukata as a souvenir from your travels in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Food, Food, Food

A seasonal festival is not complete without food and stalls, and a natsu matsuri is one such festival. This is a perfect time to sample the local fare while enjoying Japan. The foods range from savory to sweet, like meat-based foods such as yakitori and karaage, to popular foods with noodles like yakisoba, to okonomiyaki and to sweets like kakigori, or shaved ice; choco banana; and candied fruits.

After eating all that food, you must have something to drink, right? You can have the usual water, fruit juice, and soda, but you can get alcohol as well. There will be local beers and even sake, which will go great with your food.

Another popular summer festival drink you should try is the ramune, which is a sweet soda. Try to get it in bottle form because it is an experience in itself.

Entertainment Booths

You’ve eaten and imbibed as much as you can, and there’s a bit of time before the grand event of the summer matsuri, so what are you to do? Worry not, because there are Japanese game booths you can have fun with.

You’re probably familiar with some of these games like goldfish scooping, which is popular among both children and adults. You are given a scoop with thin washi paper and use it to catch goldfish, and you keep doing it until the paper is broken. You can keep the fish you’ve caught or exchange it for another prize.

There are vAriations of the goldfish-scooping game in festivals around Japan. Instead of real, live fish, you can opt to catch little toys, yo-yo, and even little bouncy balls. Another game you should give a try is the gun shooting where you are given a toy rifle to “shoot” targets with designated prizes. Another must-try is a ring toss, where you aim the ring to the prize you want.

Japanese Fireworks

If you think that Japanese summer festivals end during at dusk, then you’re wrong. Don’t go home just yet!

When the night comes, take your fill of the food, sights, and sounds, and get ready for the most spectacular night show you will ever see in your life. Japanese people love fireworks, or hanabi, and watching it during the summer is akin to viewing cherry blossoms in the spring.

In fact, fireworks are one of the most anticipated highlights during the event, and a lot of people gather around to watch it. Depending on what kind of summer festival you’re attending and where, the fireworks display can last for up to an hour or two.

If you want to fully enjoy the hanabi, you can take some plastic sheets with you to sit on comfortably. There are services in Japan that offer paid seating where you get the most advantageous view of the display, but it’s mostly catered to locals and only in Japanese.

Final Word

Japanese summer festivals are a lot of fun, and you should definitely give them a try if you’re interested in Japan’s cultural events and kawaii culture. The Japanese people’s love for the country’s seasons and celebrating each one as it passes is something that the country does every year.

If you want to experience a slice of Japan, consider getting a doki doki subscription box especially if you love getting cute seasonal items in the mail. Limited stuff is often popular, so it gets sold out easily, but when you get a monthly subscription box, you are guaranteed to get it right at your doorstep.

What are your thoughts about Japanese summer festivals? Are they similar to the ones you have at home? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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