Japan is a nation with a rich history and distinct culture. There are a few unique Japanese celebrations not observed in the USA. Let’s take a look at the history of some of these Japanese holidays. Honoring the cultural differences that make Japan special.
Shichi-Go-San (Seven-Five-Three) Festival
Shichi-Go-San is a traditional Japanese festival. It celebrates the growth and well-being of children aged three, five, and seven years old. Held on November 15th, this special occasion marks a significant milestone in a child’s life. It celebrates transitioning from infancy to early childhood. To celebrate, families dress up their children in elaborate kimonos. They also visit shrines to offer prayers for their health, happiness, and prosperity.
Tanabata (Star Festival)
Originating from a Chinese legend, Tanabata is a whimsical Japanese holiday celebrated on July 7th. According to the legend, the Milky Way separates two star-crossed lovers. Orihime and Hikoboshi, represented by the stars Vega and Altair, are only allowed to meet only once a year. During this festival, people write their wishes on colorful strips of paper called tanzaku. They then hang them on bamboo trees, hoping for their dreams to come true.
O-Bon is a spiritual and heartwarming Japanese holiday that honors deceased ancestors. Held in mid-August, the festival’s origins lie in Buddhist customs. Tradition says that during this time the spirits of departed loved ones return to visit the living. Families come together to clean and decorate gravesites. They perform “bon odori,” traditional folk dances, to welcome and entertain the spirits. The festival culminates with the floating of lanterns on rivers and seas. The lanterns represent guiding the spirits back to the other world.
Setsubun (Bean-Throwing Festival)
Setsubun, celebrated on February 3rd, marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring in Japan. People perform a unique ritual called mamemaki, where they throw roasted soybeans outside their homes or at shrines while shouting “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi” (Out with the demons, in with good luck!). It’s believed this custom wards off evil spirits and brings good fortune for the coming year.
These unique Japanese holidays provide a glimpse into the country’s rich cultural tapestry. We at Anime Banzai want to showcase the history of Japan. What anime have you seen that celebrates some of these holidays?