Jan 112013
Celebrating coming of age in Japan - Seijin-no Hi

Second Monday of January is a national holiday in Japan. On that day, all 20-year old celebrate their coming of age.

First they attend official ceremonies in city halls, then they visit shrines and temples to pray for good luck in their adulthood.

It is exactly there, that hungry photographers prey on beautifully dressed young women.

Nov 152012
Shichi-Go-San – probably the cutest holiday in Japan

Shichi-Go-San, in November, should be called the cutest of Japanese holidays.

Its name means simply “Seven-Five-Three,” and on that day, parents of 7- and 3-year old girls, as well as 5-year old boys, visit shrines with their children dressed in colorful kimono.

Aug 292012
Hot Samba Carnival in the heat of Tokyo's summer

A flock of penguin-dressed Japanese dancing Brazilian samba in front of a 1400 year old Buddhist temple.

Does that sound ridiculous? Believe it or not, this is August in Tokyo.

Brazil is bound to Japan with historical ties. It was the country that attracted majority of Japanese emigrants in the beginning of 20th century. And nowadays, descendants of those people constitute a large group of immigrants to Japan.

Next year, the Asakusa Samba Carnival will mark its 30th anniversary.

Jul 252012
Awa odori at the Kagurazaka Matsuri

Kagurazaka is a neighborhood in Shinjuku. It abounds with foreigners, but is also a place where Tokyo geisha-houses are located.

In August a big festival is held here. It ends with a street performance of Awa Odori dance that originated in Tokushima prefecture on Shikoku island. In the evening, when summer heat subsides, groups of dancers display their skills in a few hour-long, lively parade.

May 312012

Waseda University and Keio University – two oldest private academies in Tokyo, have been competing with each other for years.

This competition is most clearly visible in sport events. They are called sokeisen (lit. “war between Waseda and Keio”). The most popular are rugby, baseball, and rowing competitions. Baseball sokeisen is the classic. It is a two-day match, held twice a year during a tournament of six Tokyo universities.

Waseda vs Keio baseball match

It gathers a lot of press, as usually next stars of professional baseball league play on the field.

At the same time, in the stands, a lively party takes place. Students and professors cheer on their teams.

May 172012
Asakusa Sanja Matsuri

Probably the largest and most popular traditional festival in Tokyo – Sanja Matsuri – takes place in May.

Three mikoshi – portable shrines – are carried by a huge crowd to the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.

They commemorate two fishermen who found the statue of Kannon goddess and the statue itself.

Apr 212012
Nakizumo – crying sumo tournament full of laugh

Nakizumo (“crying sumo tournament”) – once a local shrine festival have recently gained country-wide popularity. In a bout between two toddlers, the one who cries louder wins.

Tournament in Asakusa district of Tokyo is organized in a particularly professional setting thanks to proximity of Kokugikan – the national hall, in which real sumo tournaments take place.