ahh of course i can!! we do have a lot, and it’s hard to think of at the top of my head since i live them daily. I can list holidays, for starters:
- 正月 (“Shougatsu” New Years, on January 1st) - This is an important celebration in Japan, we usually gather all family members and celebrate it together. The adults give each of the kids お年玉 (otoshi dama), literal translation “year coins” but they’re money we get. I know China has this tradition as well! We also go to 初詣 (hatsumoude) together, to the nearest shrine to say thanks for the good year we had, and to the good years to come. We eat 御節 (osechi), which are traditional New Years foods! They’re very yummy. You can read it in depth on a wiki here.
- 節分 (“Setsubun” Season Division on February 3rd) - This day is to celebrate the coming of spring, we run around the house throwing beans yelling “福は内、鬼は外！” (Fuku wa uchi, Oni wa soto!) It means “Happiness inside, Devils out!” This festival is performed to start a new season clean. You can read about it in depth here.
- バレンタインデー (Valentine’s Day, on February 14th) - Valentine’s is a bit different in Japan. On February 14th, the girls give the boys chocolate or gifts. Most people hand make their chocolate, and we don’t give it to just boys we like. For example, I gave chocolates to my grandpa, my cousin, and my cousin’s husband because they have done a lot for me these past years. In return, on ホワイトデー (White Day, on March 14th), boys give chocolates or gifts back to the girls.
- 雛祭り (“Hina Matsuri” Girl’s Day, on March 3rd) - Also called Doll’s Day in English, we celebrate by displaying Hina-Ningyos, which are dolls representing the emperor and empress. This tradition comes from the belief that dolls contain bad spirits, so by celebrating this festival we wish the well-being of the children. You can read about it in depth on the wiki here. I have my own set of Hina-Ningyos on display right now till the 3rd, my grandparents bought me them when I was born:
- こどもの日 (“Kodomo No Hi” Children’s Day, May 5th) - This is also boy’s day, we celebrate the children’s happiness and growth. You can read about it in depth here. A lot of people like to put up Koinoboris, like so:
- 七夕 (“Tanabata” the Star Festival on July 7th) I talked about this here.
- お盆 (“Obon” Spirits Festivals, August 13~16) - the dates depend on where in Japan you are, but I live in the Kanto where we celebrate it in August. Some parts of Japan celebrate it in July. In short, this is a festival where we honour the people that have passed. It is believed in Japan ghost make their way back to our world to visit their relatives during this time. To welcome these spirits, there are a lot of festivals during this time, called 盆踊り “Bon-Odori”! In English it is the Bon Dance, where we get in a circle and dance to welcome relatives. It’s a very fun festival, and I love summers very much because of these Bon Odoris. You can read about it in depth on the wiki here. There are also manyyyy types of stores out, from delicious foods to games- here’s a festival in front of my house:
That’s all I can think of at the top of my head now, there’s definitely a lot of things I do without thinking but I won’t think much of it unless you ask about it. So it’s probably best to try to observe Japanese people’s behavior!
Could you tell us some traditions that are special to Japan? Like, I never heard of wishing on fireworks till I started getting interested in Japanese cultures. Any neat, or strange things you can think of?
"With my heart full of gratitude for everything good in the world.
I’ll put down my pen.”
Satoshi Kon 1963 - 2010
R.I.P and thank you for the masterpieces you left behind.