When it comes to festivals, Japan is one of the best places to celebrate. It has a long list of matsuris many of which draw people from around the world. It also has a number of food festivals, which provide the perfect setting to taste Japan in all its culinary glory.
Miyajima Oyster Festival
Where: Miyajima, Hiroshima
When: Early February
Why go: Hiroshima is known for its excellent seafood and the oysters are definitely a must-try. And there is no better time to eat them than during oyster season that falls in the first quarter of the year. The Miyajima Oyster Festival is an annual celebration held in early February. You can eat great tasting oysters raw or take your pick from the selection of delectable oyster-based dishes.
Meguro Kumin Matsuri
Where: Meguro-ku, Tokyo
When: Early September
Why go: The Meguro Kumin Matsuri is a festival that features four different events — the Furusato Bussannten, Kodomo Hiroba, Meguro no Sanma Matsuri, and Omatsuri Hiroba. The most popular of which is the Meguro no Sanma Matsuri or Pacific saury festival where visitors can enjoy freshly-grilled Sanma (Pacific saury).
Hokkaido Fair (The Hokkai Shokudo)
Where: Yoyogi Park, Tokyo
When: Late September to early October
Why go: The Hokkaido Fair is a food festival that celebrates and showcases the scrumptious foods from the region. Spread over four days, the free event attractions hundreds of thousands of local and foreign visitors who come to enjoy a wide array of dishes and treats at affordable prices including the best quality seafood as well as Hokkaido’s famous beer — Sapporo.
Festivals are celebrated for varied reasons. Some are steeped in ancient rituals and traditions while others serve as gatherings to commemorate important events. Whatever the theme of the celebration may be, being part of a festival can be an amazing moment. And for some, it can be life-changing. Here are some of the best things that can happen to you in festivals.
1. Once in a lifetime experiences
Every celebration is unique in itself regardless of how long the tradition has been observed. You can experience the same event differently each time. The people are different and how things unfold will never be exactly the same as before. For this reason, every festival has something new to offer, a once in a lifetime experience that make for great stories you can look back to over time.
2. Chance meetings and real life connections
In today’s increasingly connected world, more and more people are relying on technology to communicate. This limits real-life interactions. Festivals provide opportunities for chance meetings and new friendships. You will likely meet people from different walks of life, hear their stories, or observe and learn from them.
3. The unexpected and unfamiliar
Festivals take you out of your comfort zone. The unexpected and unfamiliar may be daunting at the onset. But it can push you beyond your limits allowing you to explore what you are capable of doing if put in unfamiliar situations. The things that happen during the events or celebrations you become part of can even broaden your perspectives.
4. Learning experience
A lot of festivals are rooted in cultural traditions and religious beliefs of diverse groups of people. You can learn a lot about their history, culture, and rituals as well as get a glimpse of the life they lead. Some of the things you will discover are not even things you can read about from books or learn in schools.
Festivals allow you to push your limits.
5. Creativity and meaning
Festivals are a celebration of creativity and a form of expression for people from different backgrounds. It allows you to see spectacular displays of people’s talents and skills. From unique costumes to the different ways events are celebrated, festivals showcase the people’s ability to create and put meaning to their work.