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5 Popular Japanese Traditional Activities in Summer


June is finally here and it’s officially summer in Japan! Did you know that there are a lot of traditional activities here which you can’t find anywhere in the world? Yes and interestingly if it’s your first time or still planning to visit, you will be amazed by the richness of Japanese culture. 

So here are 6 popular Japanese traditional activities that you enjoy whether you live in the countryside or in the metropolis.

1. Marvel at the fireworks display


Image by Tuan Hung Nguyen from Pixabay

Japan’s cities and towns host an annual fireworks festival in summer, around the month of July to August. This spectacular event is much-awaited by both locals and foreign tourists. The night skies become alive displaying fireworks that will light up the area for about two hours.

In addition to fireworks, yatai food stalls are also lined up in the city selling mouth-watering Japanese street foods and toy stalls. 

Most people at the festival will be wearing traditional Japanese clothing for summer. Yukata for women,  and jinbei for men. They come in different bright colors. If you haven’t worn any of this clothing, you have to give it a try for a fun and festive summer experience! 

2. See a Japanese summer festival

Photo credit by Trevor Paxton on Unsplash

Japanese festivals vary in every region and they are spectacular, extravagant, and lively, making you get into the festive mood.

These festivals are based around a specific shrine that pays tribute to a different deity, however, they have many similarities that include large processions where people wear traditional clothes, chant, and dance to the beat of the taiko drums.

The main float of the procession is called mikoshi which serves as a vehicle to transport a deity while moving between the main shrine and the temporary shrine. Bearers usually carry them through their shoulders and at the same time chant wasshoi! 

3. Dance to the beat of Bon Odori

Photo credit by Tong Su on Unsplash

Bon Odori is a folk dance with a history of nearly 600 years to welcome the spirits of the dead. The dance styles vary from every region with different dance steps and music. It is mainly performed in August during the Obon week.

The main characteristic of this dance involves people lining up in a circle around a high wooden scaffold made especially for festivals that are called yagura. The yagura serves as a stage for the musicians and singers of Obon music. The whole dance area is illuminated with beautiful lanterns during the evenings. The dance steps tell a story and vary from every place.

Bon Odori has spread throughout the world where a significant number of the Japanese population lives. Here in Japan, you can see the dances performed in public parks.

4. Experience yana fishing at the rivers

The rivers of rural Japan are full of natural wonders including ayu (sweetfish). Yana fishing is a traditional fishing method using your bare hands! It’s fun and a great way to spend the summer with your family. 

When the ayu fish is released upstream with the water, visitors then rush to catch the fish with their hands. You have the option to catch and release the fish or have it grilled at the existing restaurant.

5. Enjoy Nagashi Somen

http://By 顔なし (tasteful_tn) – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2493785

Somen are thin white noodles made from wheat flour. If ramen is served hot, somen are served cold with cubes of ice! Quite strange for foreigners but they are delicious summer food served with sauce, dashi stocks, and cool toppings.

One of the fun ways of eating somen is called “nagashi somen” which literally means flowing noodles. They are often served in restaurants during summer events. A long pole of bamboo is placed and filled with flowing water where strings of noodles are dropped in to flow to the customers. With good chopstick skills, you can get a good amount of noodles with ease. Make sure to stay alert so that the noodles don’t pass you by.

There are many things to look forward to when visiting Japan during summer. I highly recommend experiencing local culture and traditions and you end up full of knowledge and joy!

Feature image by Hiroku Yamashiro on Unsplash.

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