Top 5 Most Beautiful Japanese Festivals in December

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People dressed as Namahage oni © imgdive/Flickr

While December is famous for the Christmas celebrations in the majority of the countries, the non-Christian countries, such  as Japan have their own holidays and festivals. Definitely the celebration of New Year is the most significant event of the month all around The Land of the Rising Sun. Shogatsu, the Japanese New Year is celebrated between the 31rd of December and January the 2nd; but on 31 December there are other festivals as well.

The most interesting Japanese festivals in December are held in large cities, like Tokyo or Kyoto, but smaller cities give home to amazing celebrations as well. The festivals at Nara, Akita or Saitama have to be mentioned as well. This article presents the five most beautiful Japanese festivals from the end of the year.

 

Chichibu Yomatsuri

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Performers at Chichibu Yomatsuri © Coyotte/Flickr

It is also called Chichibu Night Festival and it is celebrated on the 3rd or the 4th day of December. This float festival is held in Saitama and it is one of the oldest traditional Japanese festivals. The floats on this festival weigh more than 3 tons. This festival has everything a tourist may want: crowd, traditional drums, music, fireworks and of course, the floats.

 

Gishi-Sai

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Sengakuji Temple, home of the Gishi-sai celebrations © mdid/Flick

Gishi-Sai is celebrated on December 14 in Tokyo. It is held at Sengakuji Temple, honoring the 47 Akoh retainers. Thousands of visitors come to the resting place of the Akoh, and sometimes people are even dressed as the forty-seven Akoh. It is definitely one of the most amazing Japanese festivals.

 

Hagoita-Ichi

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Haigo-Ichi Fair © mako10/Flickr

 Also called the Battledore Fair, it is held between 17-19 December in Tokyo. There is a large fair near Senso-ji Temple, and the stalls are selling New Year decorations, such as kites, hagoita battledores and shuttlecocks. This fair was first held in the Edo Period, and since then, it is one of the most significant events of December in Tokyo.

 

Kasuga Wakamiya On-Matsuri

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Wakamiya-jinja Shrine in Nara © Eryn Vorn/Flickr

It is celebrated at Wakamiya-jinja Shrine in Nara, between 15 and 18 December. For the first time it was held in the 12th century, when people offered prayers for a rich harvest. By commemorating Kasuga Wakamiya every year, it became one of the most important events in Nara: thousands of tourists come here every year to see the music performances offered to the gods.

 

Oga no Namahage

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People dressed as Namahage oni © imgdive/Flickr

It is celebrated on the last day of the year in Akita. On this traditional festival, young people are dressed as Namahage, an ancient oni (demon) and they visit every house, where the head of the family offers them rice cake and sake. After this, the Oni bless the house and promises a visit next year. This kind tradition is amazing for us, Western tourists, so Akita worth a visit on this day.

 

 

 

 

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