Events and festivals in Japan

This section gives you reports, pictures and vidéos on Japanese major events such as festivals, celebrations, ceremonies and more.

Yosakoi dance festival in Harajuku

Yosakoi dancers with blue wigsMost people with an interest in Japan are aware that the summer season is one of many matsuri (festivals) which are often accompanied with copious amounts of music playing, dancing, eating, and drinking. Although the Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri festival is one of the largest dance festival organized in Tokyo during that season, what makes it truly special is the actual type of dancing that is being performed, the Yosakoi. Compared to other traditional summer dances, the origin of Yosakoi is a lot more recent and it is therefore a lot more influenced by pop culture. What better place to organize Japan's most important Yosakoi festival than in the center of youth and fashion, the district of Harajuku? Let's explore the whole Yosakoi in more details!

Annular solar eclipse over Tokyo

Solar eclipse This morning, a very special atmosphere can be felt along the short path that leads me to the subway station Yotsuya. The salary-men and women don’t have the nose on their mobile phones as usual, but for once, they look towards the heavens. The reason for this unusual, almost alarming behavior (especially for a company so devoted to his routine), is obviously the fact that this morning, we are all expecting a very particular celestial phenomenon: an annular solar eclipse. All televisions have warned us and we are ready to witness it. We bought goggles and we look forward to 7:34 am.

Summer Grand Sumo Tournament 2012

Summer Grand Sumo Tournament 2012 Sunday, May 20th was the fifteenth and final day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament held annually in Tokyo at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. This year, the Mongolian Kyokutenho, at the advanced age of 37 years, made an incredible to win against his younger opponent and favorite Tochiozan. A rare occurrence in this world of codes and strict restraint, tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of the giant who emerged victorious. Let’s review this special day in images and video.

Hanami, the cherry blossoms in Tokyo

Hanami 2012Every year in Japan, the blossoming of the Sakura, the Japanese cherry trees, marks a sort of rebirth after the harsh winter months. This event is probably amongst the most important in the Japanese calendar and people never fail to gather amongst family or friends, in order to admire the delicate white and pink flowers and of course, to enjoy some yakitori with a rather large sip of sake. This year, more than any other, this feeling of renewal is palpable everywhere. Last year, the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and the nuclear disaster that they caused, had greatly undermined the festivities but one year later, people are now ready once again to enjoy the small pleasures of life such as Hanami. After a year of mourning and restrain, it is now considered alright to go out and elect in an innocent hedonism.

Hojutsu: An introduction to Japanese gunnery

hojutsuEven though firearms had been introduced in Japan from China as early as the 13th century, these were rather primitive and pretty impractical on the battlefield as they consisted of nothing more than a metal tube that was either mounted or hand-held. It took the arrival of the Portuguese in 1543, the first Europeans ever to land in Japan, to bring a significant improvement to these weapons. This technological change would trigger radical changes in the way warfare was conducted and it can be argued that the whole history of Japan was changed because of the advantage that these new weapons provided to those who equipped their armed forces with them. This led the way to firearms frenzy and the development of a whole range of techniques, formalized within the discipline of Hojustu in order to improve their effectiveness.

iPhone 4S in Japan: Are smartphones breaking into Japanese market?

iPhone 4S out in JapanThe Japanese have always been passionate about novelty and innovation. This interest was observed as early as 1543 by the first Portuguese settlers in Japan when the daimyo Taneshima Tokitaka, intrigued by their firearms, purchased two of them and ordered his sword smith to make copies. This tendency is still present today and it is particularly visible in the endless queues of people who are patiently waiting in front of the high tech stores prior to the release of any new technological tool or gadget.

Tokyo Koenji Awaodori

Koenji Awaodori dancersThe Tokyo Koenji Awaodori is one of the largest Awaodori summer dance festivals and it is usually held on the last Saturday and Sunday of the month of August. Each year, almost 200 groups (ren, 連) gathering over 10,000 dancers perform in the streets of Koenji the traditional Awa dance to the sound of flutes, drums and bells. The performers travel through nine routes departing from Koenji JR Train Station.

Real-time report during the earthquake in Tokyo on March 11th 2011

Earthquake in Japan in March 2011A massive earthquake of a 8.8 magnitude (the biggest ever since Japan started recordings 140 years ago) occurred in the Pacific Ocean at about 160 km from North-eastern Japan at 2:46pm on March 11 (JST). Significant damages occurred and an up to 10 m tsunami hit the coastal areas. The death count keeps rising as the water clears. Below are the post I gave at the time.

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