Archive for the ‘Special Events’ Category
On the third Saturday in April, traditional Japanese archery demonstrations are held in Asakusa. The road along the Sumida river in the Sumida River Park is roped off, benches for paid seats are put up and in the center of the road, a track is prepared with sand for the horses to run on. Three targets are placed along the road. (more…)
It is based on an old Chinese tale of two stars being able to meet only once per year, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. In modern Japan, people write their wishes on small colored strips of paper (the tanzaku) which are attached to bamboo stalks which are erected along with the other decorations. Like other summer festivals such as obon and the summer fireworks, it is a good occasion to dress up in a summer kimono (the yukata) and take a stroll through the decorated streets.
Another Japanese New Year’s tradition is going to see the emperor. The Imperial Palace in Tokyo is closed to the public 363 days per year, but on the Emperor’s birthday (Dec. 23) and on January 2nd, the public is allowed into the grounds to see the Tenno and his family. On January 2nd, the emperor makes five appearances every 50 minutes to say a few words for the New Year. Of course we couldn’t miss it! (more…)
After having spent New Year in Europe for the last two years, we finally wanted to experience it in Japan. After all, it’s the most important holiday here!
So what do you do here for the New Year?
1. Get a New Year’s Decoration.
Asakusa is home to a number of festivals and events. A very important one takes place on the day of the rooster in November (usually it occurs twice, 12 days apart): the tori-no-ichi (酉の市, rooster market). What is sold is not roosters, but lucky rakes made from bamboo, the kumade (熊手), heavily decorated with various symbols of good luck. The rakes are meant to rake in good fortune. Common decorations are cats (money, business), coins, the mask of the goddess of mirth (happiness), goldfishes (money), cranes (longevity), frogs etc. But beyond that, it seems that anything that could possibly strike your fancy is allowed.
Yesterday evening, the main summer event of Asakusa took place: The Sumida River Fireworks. Being the fireworks with the longest history in Japan, they had been started in 1733 by the shogunate in order to cheer people up after a period of famine and cholera.
At first, we had entertained the idea of looking for a good vantage point on the river banks, but when we realized at 8am (!) that the good places were already taken and would be guarded all day long (think hanami-party style), we defaulted to our roof. (more…)
One year has passed and the Furin-ichi (wind bell market) at the Kawasaki Daishi has come round again. Since we liked it last year, and with the excuse to buy Japanese wind chimes for our families, we could not miss it this year, either. The heat was somewhat overwhelming. Luckily, chilled tea is given out for free, and with every purchase, you also receive a fan.