New Year is a festival to welcome the god of fertility, Houjyou and the god Toshigami, who japanese venerate for having good harvests. The first 3 days of January are called Sanganichi and the first 7 days of January, Matsunouchi or Matsunanoka. These days are known as the period of "New Year". Depending on the regions or places in Japan, this period is also known as Hatsukashogatsu-Hone Tadashi month (the first 20 days of January). For the Japanese, New Year is the most important event of the year. It is the also the moment to take good resolution for the new year starting.
During this period, people send greeting cards to their close friends. All the relatives gather in one place and party together, with drinking and eating New Year dishes (only in New year). Children receive pocket money from the elders and the relatives, which is very fun occasion for Japanese.
Obon is a ritual of ancestor memorial service which takes place around August 15th of the lunar calendar. Spirits of the ancestors come back to our world from the beyond before going back to their world, according to the buddhist beliefs. People have a lots of fun during Obon, for 4 days from August 13th to August 16th.
【Bon-odori】 <to conduct events of Obon in town>, this event takes place in temple precints and town square from August 14th to 17th. In this event, people welcome their ancestors spirits, feed them and let them to go back in their own world by dancing. Adults and children also dance in the town square wearing Yukata.
Festivals to worship God by gathering in shrine with playing Kagura (Music for calling God) are numerous in Japan, and take place to specific moments.
Different kind of events and summer festivals are held for celebrations. In addition, as Japan is an agricultural country, many festivals are held in the spring.
New Year's Eve, The last day of the year is also called "Oomisoka" or "Ootsugomori" and the last day of the month is called "Misoka". "Tsugomori", known as "the hidden moon" refers to the last day of the month. To represent the special last day of the year, there are two words "New Year Eve" and " Otsugomori". On New Year Eve, in Japan, the custom is to eat "New Year Eve Soba" (noodles) at home with the relatives and friends and then all together go to the shrine or temple and pray.
Food culture in Japan, is made of staple food such as rice, beans, fish, seaweed and vegetables. This proper diet attracted the attention of people around the world. Food culture was introduced during the ancient times in Japan, by the wisdom of our ancestors. In addition, there is a deep relationship between food and the seasons In Japan. That is to say that japanese use seasonal products. Cooking food is not only for the taste but also for the good design and the look.
Natto is a Traditional Japanese food which is made of fermented soybeans. It has distinctive smell and sticky thread. "Salt Natto" and "Stringing Natto" are the types of natto we can find, but the most popular one is "Stringing Natto". Its nutritional value is very high and has been recognized worldwide as a healthy food.
Pickled plum is a dried fruit, salted and marinated in vinegar along with leaves of Perilla. It is a small-size, soft and red colored dish. It tastes sour and also used in rice in dining. Especially, it is nationally famous in Wakayama Prefecture.
Onigiri is a triangle shaped ball made of rice and is very familiar to japanese people. Japanese use to eat Onigiri while in excursions, doing sports, gathering for Hanami, daily lunch, etc... It is known as soul food for japanese.
In Japan, culture is wide enough not to be fully introduced here, so, we will only introduce some specific parts.
Kimono is the traditional clothe in Japan. Looking back to history of Kimono, it is being followed from the period of Jomon (Kantoui). In the Asuka Period of Tang culture, kimono comprised brilliant twelve-layered ceremonal kimono of the Heian period. Among the history of Japan, kimono culture cannot be separated from Japanese People.
Wearing Kimono depends on the seasosn and the occasions and is tailored as long clothes which is broadly divided into the back.
The opportunity to wear a kimono decresed, due to the generalization of the wetsern style clothes. By the epidemic of antique kimono and Japanese pattern in recent years, it is also popular in the younger generation.
Martial art means "the way to protect the Samurai".
Martial arts are a codified system of traditions and are practiced for a wide range of reasons : self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, entertainment, mental, physical, and spiritual development, etc... In this way, Martial Arts is defined in the dictionary.
Martial Arts exist since the ancient times in Japan. Originally, martial arts were not made for fighting, but permitted to people to build their minds and bodies.
Various Japanese martial arts
Martial arts / sumo, karate, aikido, kendo, judo, archery, Jiu / Taidō, Naginata, Iaido
Noh is one kind of japanese entertainment, which usually refers to Sarugaku, an ancient way of performing theater.
On the stage, there are only a roof, musicians, dancers, singers and an actor called shite.
Accompanying is made of music played by musicians (Hayashi) and singers (Jiutai).
Most of the features use a mask called Noumen. With Kabuki, is a Japanese art known worldwide.
Noh is a story divided in 250 epidodes, where the main character is a ghost. In Noh, the roles include shite (main character), waki how (opponent role to the protagonist), kyogen how (kyogen actors) and musicians. The theme of the story talks most of the time about the faith in gods, transience of war, maiden of love, jealousy of women, parent-child love, or even monsters extermination.
In Noh, it's the gestures which convey the emotions to the spectators, while the iconic masks represent the roles such as ghosts, women, children, and old people.
The traditional Noh stage is a complete open space that provides a shared experience between the performers and the audience throughout the performance. Without any prosceniums or curtains to obstruct the view, the audience sees each actor at any moment, even before they enter the "stage".
One of the most recognizable characteristic of Noh stage is its independent roof hanging over the stage even in indoor theatres. The roof also unifies the space and defines the stage as an architectural entity.
Kabuki is a Japanese representative classical dance drama which was estblished in the Edo periode.
Kabuki is called one of the Three Major Japanese Drama with Nougaku in the Kamakura-Muromachi periode and Ningyo-Joururi in the Edo periode.
In Kabuki all performers are men and they also play female characters. The origin of "Kabuki" word is "Kabuku", which means wearing gaudy clothes and people wearing those clothes were called "Kabukimono". Originally, Kabuki was a modern drama for people during the Edo era and was developed as a popular drama for general people regardless of age or gender. Kabuki adopted the manners and the customs of the period so that anyone could understand Kabuki's story. Because of that, Kabuki became popular. The distinguishing features are the very dynamic and gorgeous costumes, and the makeup method called "Kumatori" which draws various colors, patterns, and lines on the face.
Now Kabuki is also performed overseas and is well known as Japanese traditional culture all over the world.