Shichi-Go-San / Seven-Five-Three

November 15th is the day of Shichi-Go-San (七五 三, 7-5-3). This festival celebrates the rite of passage for girls aged 3 and 7 and children aged 3 and 5. These numbers are considered particularly lucky, like all odd numbers.

Shichi-Go-San

photo credits: cacadoresdelendas.com.br

Shichi-Go-San is the culmination of three traditions developed in the Heian period. The celebration first started among the court nobles who celebrated the passage of their children to "average childhood". It was then adopted by the Samurai class to mark the important growth milestones.

Up to 3 years of age, a child will have shaved hair. After the age of 3, they would then be allowed to grow their hair a little longer. 5-year-old males could wear the hakama (袴, a traditional garment that resembles a wide skirt-pants up to the ankles and tied to the waist) for the first time, while the seven-year-old girls replaced the simple cords, used to tie their kimonos, with the traditional obi (帯, the traditional silk belt). After the Meiji period, this practice was also adopted by ordinary citizens, introducing the ritual visit to a Shinto shrine to remove evil spirits and wish their children a long and prosperous life.

Shichi-Go-San and the subtle changes in the modern era

Shichi-Go-San

photo credits: amu-zen.com

Like most Japanese traditions, Shichi-Go-San keeps the rituals of the Meiji period almost completely intact. The only aspect falling into disuse is the hair rule. Five-year-old boys and seven-year-old girls still wear colourful kimono for visits to shrines.
The three-year-old girls usually wear the hifu (a dress similar to a slightly padded waistcoat) along with their kimono. Some children wear clothes closer to western fashion. Today many photos are taken in this occasion.
A decorated envelope containing sweet Chitose ame (千歳飴) will be given to each boy and girl celebrating the Shichi-Go-San day. The name ‘Chitose ame’ means “the candy of a thousand years". It is wrapped in transparent edible rice paper and is shaped like a long thin stick. Traditionally red and white, it serves as a symbol of longevity.


Bushido: ethics and conduct, the way of the Samurai

Between the period of the Kamakura shogunate (1185) and the Muromachi period (1336) the code of moral conduct known as Bushido took shape (武士道, the path of the warrior). Formally adopted and applied by the "bushi", the warriors (Samurai) in the Tokugawa Period (1603-1867), this code of conduct is a re-adaptation of the principles of Buddhism and Confucianism. Originally adapted to the warrior caste, after the Meiji Restoration (1866-1869), the Japanese nationalist movement adopted by Bushido as a discipline of behavior.

Bushido

photo credits: camminospirituale.com

The 7 principles of Bushido: 7 steps towards perfection

Honesty, justice, piety, duty, honour, and loyalty were the principles that had to be pursued until death. If this were not followed, the penalty was the dishonour to be expiated through the seppuku (切腹) or harakiri (切り). Both of these terms indicate the ritual of honourable suicide through the cutting of the belly. Harakiri is used in speech, while seppuku is most used in writing.
Each Samurai was therefore required to follow 7 fundamental principles that we can define as "perfect morality".

Let's go into them and discover them together:

義, Gi: Honesty and Justice

There are no middle ways, there is only the right or the wrong. It is necessary to be honest in dealing with others, to believe firmly in the justice that comes from oneself, not from other people. The true Samurai never has uncertainties about honesty and justice

勇, Yu: Heroic Courage

The heroic courage of the Samurai rises above the masses. A warrior is not afraid to act, he does not hide in the shell like a turtle, despite the risk and danger. Heroic courage means to live completely, fully, wonderfully, it is not blind but strong and intelligent.

仁, Jin: Compassion

The intense training makes the samurai quick and strong. He is different from the others, he acquires a power that must be used for the common good. He possesses compassion, takes every opportunity to be helpful to his fellows and if the opportunity does not arise he does everything to find one. The compassion of a Samurai must be demonstrated above all in regard to women and children

礼, Rei: Kind Courtesy

The Samurai have no reason to behave in a cruel way, they don't need to show their strength. A Samurai is also kind to enemies. Without this demonstration of external respect, a man is little more than an animal. The Samurai is respected not only for his strength in battle but also for how he interacts with other men. The best fight is the one who is avoided.

誠, Makoto: Complete Sincerity

When a Samurai expresses the intention to perform an action, this is practically already accomplished, nothing will prevent him from completing the express intention. He needs neither to give the word nor to promise. Speaking and acting are the same thing.

名誉, Meiyo: Honor

The Samurai is the only judge of his honour. The decisions you make and the actions that follow are a reflection of what you actually are. You can't hide from yourself.

忠義, Chugi: Duty and Loyalty

For the Samurai to perform an action or to express something is to become its owner. He assumes full responsibility, even for what follows. The Samurai is immensely loyal to those he cares about. He remains proudly faithful to those for whom he is responsible.

For several years I myself have adopted these 7 virtues as a path to follow. I find them essential in everyone's life because we are all warriors. Every day we face challenges and every day we must aim for that spiritual perfection that, if pursued to the end, would lead to a better world.
Are you ready to take these steps?


Travel guide: Tokyo - Episode 01

Can you ever imagine Tokyo as a modest fishing village? Probably not. Like so many other cities in the world - the atmosphere that was breathed in the Edo period was quiet and very far from today's frenzy. It was only when the emperor moved from Kyoto to Tokyo, after 1868, that the city radically changed his identity.

Tokyo

photo credits: visa.com.au

Today Tokyo, with its 23 districts, is the largest megalopolis in the world, a conglomeration of cities, lights and colors fused together that continue to amaze visitors.

Walking around the capital is an almost otherworldly experience. From the very crowded streets, you could turn the corner and find yourself suddenly in an oasis of serenity near some shrine or Shinto temple. Or, decide to venture out shopping in stores that sell strange and wonderful things, or take the subway (or train) and reach incredible places!

In our blog, you will find many articles that focus on Tokyo neighborhoods. However, what we want to suggest to you today are those unusual, unique and extravagant activities that, for those visiting the city for the first time, could turn into unforgettable experiences!

Admire Tokyo in its vastness

Tokyo

photo credits: lonelyplanet.com

A visit to the observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office, a visit to the Tokyo Skytree or the Tokyo Tower, or going to Roppongi Hills at Tokyo City View becomes necessary to enjoy a breathtaking view. The unique and incredible scenery of the city will hurt your heart because going back will be difficult, very difficult!

The Pet Cafés and the thematic Cafes

Tokyo

photo credits: ddnews.gov.in

We have already talked about thematic cafés before, enchanted places where we can become children again and dream a little. However, we talked very little about Pet Cafes. In Japan they are very popular and Tokyo is full of these cute cafes. The concept is that of a place with soft lights in which to relax, pampering an animal: cats, dogs, owls, snakes and even hedgehogs!

Compulsive shopping at Daiso!

Tokyo

photo credits: planetyze.com

Exactly, compulsive shopping. In fact, Daiso offers 5 stories of articles of all kinds and all sold only for 100 Yen! Furthermore, the biggest Daiso is located in Takeshita Street and some others are scattered all around town.

Plunge into the green in Tokyo

Tokyo

photo credits: blogdiviaggi.com

There is no shortage of beautiful parks in Tokyo. We'll talk about it in-depth in the second episode of our travel guide on Tokyo, but it is absolutely one of the things to do while walking around the city! Cherry trees in spring and momiji (Japanese red maples) will give you moments of pure relaxation in autumn, so a stop at each of the city's parks is essential. Absolutely not to be missed!

Sumo Tournaments

Tokyo

photo credits: japanistry.com

If you visit the city during tournaments (usually January, May and September) you should give yourself the experience of attending the Japanese national sport combat sessions at Ryugoku! For the Japanese, in fact, Sumo is not just about sports, but about a real unmissable form of art.

Tokyo Museums

Tokyo

photo credits: jrailpass.com

Like any self-respecting city, Tokyo also offers museums, but in this case, they take on an even more special feature because there are so many types of them. From the historic Tokyo National Museum at Ueno, to the Edo-Tokyo Museum to Ryugoku, and the Ghibli Museum for Studio Ghibli lovers or the bizarre Museum of Parasites in Meguro!

Golden Gai

photo credits: theculturetrip.com

The Golden Gai is a small area of Kabukicho in Shinjuku, famous for its network of narrow alleys that are connected by even closer passages. Along these narrow streets, there are more than 200 tiny bars, clubs and restaurants that are absolutely unique and characteristic.

Travel on the Yurikamome-line

photo credits: wow-j.com

The Yurikamome-line is the railway line whose trains are driverless and speed through the skyscrapers of the city! A must-try when the sun goes down and the city lights come on...

Izakaya

Tokyo

photo credits: jamesmagazine.it

Izakaya is a typical Japanese restaurant where food is served to accompany a vast amount of alcohol. Usually they are places frequented by colleagues from a company who, after a long day of work, give themselves a break to talk about a bit of everything.

Sashimi for breakfast at the Toyosu fish market

Tokyo

photo credits: travel.sygic.com

How many times have we eat sashimi or sushi and say "wow, this is really good and fresh!" Well... we probably still have no idea what fresh and good means!!!

Shibuya

photo credits: corriere.it

These are only 10 points we thought of, but in reality, there are really a million things to do in Tokyo. For example, you can taste everything that exists with green tea, go to an onsen, cross the Shibuya intersection, participate in Hanami, pray in a temple, admire Mount Fuji. To not forget yet, Ginza, Shinjuku, Kanagawa, Saitama, Odaiba... Tokyo is not a city, but a wonderful dream!


9 must-see cities in Japan

I always thought that making a list of the beauties of Japan was a bold venture. In fact, we are talking about a truly marvelous country, where every corner has a reason for being beautiful and every city has its importance.

photo credits: gaijinpot.com 

Despite this, however, many travelers ask us for advice on what to see, what not to miss, and we don't want to disappoint them! We will try to list 9 must-see cities, 9 essential stages to get back home with unforgettable memories.

TOKYO

photo credits: liberamenteviaggi.info 

Chaotic, elegant, electrifying, ancient, vital, to be discovered over and over again, Tokyo is a metropolis in constant evolution, the world capital of technological development. Its neighborhoods are essential destinations for those facing a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun for the first time. Here we find Shibuya with the most transited crossing in the world and the square dedicated to the famous Hachiko dog.

We cannot forget the cosmopolitan Shinjuku and Ginza, realms of shopping and luxury. We then continue on the artificial island of Odaiba with the extraordinary European reconstructions. We then move on to Asakusa which seems to turn back to the past and to tradition. Akihabara the undisputed realm of modernity and technology, Roppongi realm of entertainment. The famous Bunkyo district where the Tokyo dome is located and an area of ​​prestigious universities. To finish with Shinagawa, Tokyo's business center and the curious and extravagant Harajuku. Present and past, excesses and traditions mix in a huge city that you will want to visit all the time!

SAPPORO

giappone

photo credits: conventionsapporo.jp 

A pioneering city, Sapporo was built on the basis of a rectangular North American style street system with linearly named and numbered streets. Capital of Hokkaido and Japan's fifth-largest city, Sapporo offers numerous parks whose visit is really recommended! Also, this beautiful city is famous for its ramen, beer and the annual snow festival held in February.

KYOTO

giappone

photo credits: ilviziodellesistenza.it 

As the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto has an unparalleled charm thanks to its many Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Not to mention gardens, imperial palaces, traditional houses built entirely of wood and the Geisha district in Gion. Rich in traditions, visiting Kyoto is essential for a dip in ancient Japan capable of conquering anyone who sets foot in it!

FUKUOKA

photo credits: bbc.com 

2000 years of history for this city that rises to the north of the Kyushu coast. A dynamic and ever-expanding metropolis, Fukuoka was born from the union of two cities: the homonymous and Hakata. Today it is still possible to hear about Hakata referring to Fukuoka! The ancient temples, the marvelous beaches and the numerous shopping centers make Fukuoka an essential destination for travelers. This place is also perfect for fans of traditional yatai (outdoor food stalls) that are found every night in Nakasu and Tenjin and whose typical dish is Hakata Ramen: superlative!

OSAKA

giappone

photo credits: travelanddestinations.com 

Capital of good food, Osaka was the commercial center of Japan, preserving today its important role as a major industrial and port district. Not only that, Osaka is loved by visitors thanks to the rich nightlife it offers. Furthermore, we cannot forget the variety of street foods one can come across when strolling through the lively Doutonbori district. Moreover, it is possible to enjoy its architecture and the 16th century Osaka Castle, its symbol par excellence.

NARA

giappone

photo credits: asiancrush.com 

Here we come to the town with the greatest number of treasures dating back to the 8th century. Famous for the deer living free in the park, Nara is the cradle of Japanese art, literature and culture. Among all the wonderful temples, that of Todaiji is the most loved by visitors because it is the one that contains the Daibutsu-den the largest wooden building in the world containing the bronze statue of the Great Buddha, 15m high.

NAGASAKI

photo credits: at-nagasaki.jp 

We talked about Nagasaki for a long time in our blog and it is absolutely among the 9 cities to visit not only for the sad memory tied to the past but for all its wonders. There is a particular event that deserves our attention: the celebrations of the ancient lunar new year, now commonly called "Lantern Festival". Every year over 15,000 lanterns are lit and placed in various parts of the city, dances, exhibitions and shows of various kinds fill the heart and eyes leaving that wonderful sensation of satiety.

NAHA

photo credits: weblogtheworld.com 

The capital of Okinawa, Naha has an unusual Japan. Much more similar to tropical atmospheres, here the rhythms are relaxed and the traditions stand alone. Along the Kokusai Dori you will come across shops, restaurants, souvenir shops, cafes, lively hotels and you can also reach the Makishi market where the particular Okinawan cuisine finds its full identity.

NAGOYA

photo credits: matcha-jp.com 

The birthplace of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Nagoya embodies the economic dynamism of the Rising Sun. This city is rich in industrial museums, shopping centers and the Mei-eki, the immense railway station. The Castle, the television tower, the Atsuta Horaiken Honten and, for car enthusiasts, the Toyota Automobile Museum are just some of the tips we give you not to lose at any cost!

We stopped at 9 cities, but in reality, we could have listed 15, 20, even 25! There are so many in my heart, but to discover them you just need to follow us on this long journey. Little by little, we will really take you everywhere so get ready and run to the next stop!


Fuji-san, the sacred mountain of Japan

My heart is extremely connected to Mount Fuji (富士山). I don't know exactly why, but I know I can't stop getting thrilled when I see him.

Fuji

photo credits: animeclick.it

Spiritual beauty

Higher than 3700 meters, Mount Fuji is a perfectly symmetrical volcano. Listed among the 3 sacred mountains (三霊山) of all Japan and recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage.
This impressive wonder rises between the prefectures of Shizuoka and Yamanashi, near the Pacific Ocean coast of the island of Honshu, between Hamamatsu and Tokyo.
Mount Fuji was feared and respected since the Heian period. Being a volcano, it was considered a real divinity, so much so that it possessed a very high number of sanctuaries (the sanctuaries of Asama) and became the training ground for samurai. In 664 his climb was first performed by a monk and was forbidden to women until the ban was lifted in 1872. In fact in 1868 during the Meiji period, Lady Fanny Parkes, wife of the British ambassador, began the climb proving that the Gods would not have unleashed any revenge.

Fuji Monte Fuji

photo credits: animeclick.it, David Hsu

The 5 Lakes Region

Mount Fuji is surrounded by 5 lakes, each one of them special.
Lake Kawaguchi (河口湖) is in the center of the region and the north face of the mountain is reflected on its surface like a mirror. Lake Yamanaka (中 中 湖), the largest of the five and located on the highest point is full of shops, restaurants and quiet bed & breakfasts where you can spend the night. The small and mysterious Sai (西湖) lake is what surrounds Jukai, the forest of Aokigahara. Lake Shōji (精進 湖), the smallest of the lakes, is the one that offers the most suggestive view of the mountain. And finally, Lake Motosu (本栖湖), the deepest and least touristy, is the one whose exceptional view on the Fuji-san is represented on the 1,000 yen banknotes.
Of course, all the lakes, except the Shōji, are navigable. Indeed, it is possible to take splendid cruises that allow you to admire the lush nature and peace under the watchful eye of the Sacred Mount.

Fujisan Fujisama

photo credits: animeclick.it, Daniel Ramirez

Climbing Mount Fuji: a challenge of love!

I don't know if it ever happened to you, probably not everyone is as crazy as I am, but I have often say "for you I am ready to climb Mount Fuji"! And doing it is not so impossible after all, in fact, it is even open to children and the elderly! In the months of July and August you can reach the so-called "Fifth Station" with the Fuji Subaru bus in the early afternoon, stop in a shelter (bookable with a lot of advance) and reach the summit before dawn to see the Sun rising.
From the fifth station you can find the paths to choose to reach the top. The Kawaguchiko - Yoshida-guchi trail is the most popular and traditional one. The Gotemba-guchi path is the longest and most difficult, the Path of Fujinomiya-guchi or Mishima-guchi, the shortest but also least fascinating. And finally, the path of Subashiri-guchi that joins the eighth station with that of Yoshida-guchi. The average journey time varies between 5/8 hours of ascent and 3/4 hours of descent.

Fujiyama Fuji

photo credits: yamanashi-kankou.jp, Joe Jones

All the information to undertake this extraordinary adventure is available on the official website. I made a promise, so sooner or later I'll climb the Fujisama, and you?

Fuji san

photo credits: giapponeviaggi-miki.it


Etiquette in Japan, what to do and not to do in the land of the Rising Sun

I am deeply influenced by my love for Japan, but I am convinced that in all the countries of the world there should be rules of conduct followed by the entire population as inherent in their mind.

Giappone

photo credits: yabai.com 

The Rising Sun manages to maintain impeccable behavior within its borders. In fact, the etiquette to which it abides is the same that every tourist must (or at least should) respect. For this reason it is essential to know what is possible or should be done and not done in Japan.

Here is our guide for you:

Recycle and don't be messy!

When you walk down the street in Japan you will not find garbage bins and despite this, there will be no shadow of garbage around town. Recycling for the Japanese is very important. Separate collection is an obligation and there are special bins to which people go and throw garbage.

photo credits: green.it 

Don't gamble!

Gambling in Japan is illegal! There is only one way for fans who cannot resist betting: Pachinko.
Pachinko is practiced in special rooms where players must buy steel balls to play. They must be inserted in a sort of flipper, or in the "pachislot" which works similarly to the slot machines. If you win, you get more balls. By law the spheres cannot be exchanged for cash within the rooms in which they are distributed. They are simply changed with chips or with symbolic prizes that can then be converted into cash outside the venue itself at specific desks.

photo credits: agbnippon.com 

Take off your shoes, put on your shoes

Not only at home, but also in many restaurants and historic buildings may be required to remove shoes. So make sure you wear clean, hole-free socks! If it is midsummer and you have no socks, it is always good to have a pair with you because it is not polite to enter the house barefooted. The landlord usually supplies his guests with slippers, but these too must be removed before walking on the tatami!

Giappone

photo credits: villapola.com 

Visit temples and shrines

Calm and respect are a must. Keep to the traditions: on the outside of the temple, throw a coin in the offer box and say a short prayer. If there is the possibility of burning an incense (osenko) do it turning off the stick by waving your hand and not blowing on it. If you go inside the temple, take off your shoes and leave them on the shelves or take them with you in the little bags available and I recommend you remove the hats! Do not be distracted by letting yourself be taken by the tourist's enthusiasm, pay attention to what is allowed, photography is not always permitted.

When you go to a sanctuary instead, it is important to go to the purification fountain at the entrance, take one of the provided ladles, fill it with water and rinse your hands. Next, pour a little water into your hand and rinse your mouth by spitting out the water next to the fountain.
While entering, leave a coin in the offer box by bowing deeply twice, clap your hands as many times, bow again and pray by ringing the bell or gong (this will attract the god's attention).

Giappone

photo credits: japan-guide.com 

Dine outside the home

After the waiters have greeted you and made you sit down, you will be offered water or tea for free and the oshibori (wet towel) to clean your hands before eating. After that you can choose the dishes you want from the menu, often illustrated to help tourists who are not familiar with the Japanese language.
It is not customary to pay at the table. The meal bill is presented facing down and you will pay by going to the cashier when you are about to leave the restaurant. As you come out it is courtesy to say 「御馳走様(でした)!」which reads: "Gochisou sama (deshita)" and means “thank you for the delicious meal".

Giappone
photo credits: jellyfishhr.com 

Table manners!

As usual and one of the first rules of bon ton, after ordering, it is polite to wait until all the guests have received their course. Then, we start the meal by saying いただきます (itadakimasu) that is "I take with great respect", which well away from our "enjoy your meal". If you find yourself in a situation where everyone has not been served at the table yet, but the dish we have is consumed immediately, then we will hear dire さきにどうぞ (osaki ni dōzo, please go ahead) or we can say おさきにすみまん (osaki ni sumimasen, forgive me if I go ahead).
Never feed food on the plate, in Japan it is considered rude and wasteful.

Another very important thing is the way of using chopsticks. You should never place the chopsticks in your rice bowl vertically, it is a mode that is used exclusively at funerals! It is good to always place the chopsticks on their special support when you have to put them down and I recommend you do not pass the food from your chopsticks to the chopsticks of another diner, this is also a custom of the funerals in which the bones of the cremated body are passed on in this way.

In case you need to take food from a common plate, use the opposite ends of your chopsticks. In the picture below, you can see everything not to do with chopsticks.

Giappone

photo credits: yourmagictour.wordpress.com

Toilets

In Japan you can also find Western-style services, especially in the most recent and modern public bathrooms. They mostly have a heated seat, hand shower (equivalent to our bidet) and dryer. Each toilet usually has two discharge modes: "small" (小) and "large" (大), which differ in the amount of water used. However, toilet paper or towels are not always provided in the bathrooms, so it is always a good idea to bring kleenex and a small towel (the famous "tenugui", small towels that you always see with the Japanese and that have various uses, such as drying sweat in summer!).
In private bathrooms there are always toilet slippers to be used exclusively in the bathroom. You will then have to leave your normal slippers outside the bathroom door and wear those available.

Giappone

photo credits: leganerd.com 

Respect on public transport

On the train, metro, bus or any other public transport, it is not polite to speak loudly and it is good to keep the phones in silent mode so as not to disturb anyone.

Giappone

photo credits: getaroundjapan.jp 

Blowing your nose? Oh no !!

Blowing one's nose in public is one of the greatest lack of respect and a gesture of true rudeness because it means spreading germs! For this reason, in case of a cold (and not just that), the Japanese always wear a mask.
A curiosity: the masks do not serve only to avoid epidemics and for one's own health, but also to hide imperfections! It's a good trick, don’t you think so?

Giappone

photo credits: gogonihon.com 

No smoking

It is strictly forbidden to smoke in the street, walking and anywhere there are no smoking areas. In this way, those who do not smoke or do not tolerate smoking will not be bothered. There is a special police that constantly checks that the law is respected and fines otherwise. Strangely, however, in closed places smoking is allowed and there are not always separate smoking and non-smoking areas, unfortunately!

photo credits: tobaccoreporter.com 

To bow

There are various types of bow and each with its own meaning. If we are to greet in informal situations we bow slightly, while in the formal ones it’s required a deeper bow, especially if the person in front of us is of a higher rank. If, on the other hand, we want to thank someone, it is sufficient to slightly bow the head, but also to apologize and in this case the inclination arc varies from mild (only the head), normal (part of the trunk, up to an angle of 45°) and serious. In this case the bow is deep, kneeling with the forehead touching the floor. A beautiful illustrated guide on the perfect way to bow is made available by Tongufu.com:

Giappone

photo credits: tofugu.com 

What about these rules of behavior? I find that they are very fascinating, apart from the smoke that, since I don’t tolerate it, I would forbid it anywhere!
During your travels in the land of the Rising Sun, have you noticed something curious about ways of doing things and not common in the West? Tell us about your experience!


Kitsunebi Matsuri, when folklore comes to life

In ancient Japanese folklore, the Kitsunebi (狐火, foxfire) was a yōkai that, overnight, suddenly appeared as a glowing red-orange and sometimes blue light. The Kitsunebi gradually increased to cover vast areas, reaching even 4km! It was believed that they were torches of a procession of foxes marching for their wedding. The lights were sighted by farmers in the mountains and were considered a good harbinger for the harvest. In fact, the greater the number of lights seen, the more fruitful was the harvest. However, no human was allowed to approach: those who tried were condemned to vanish.

Kitsune

photo credits: tradurreilgiappone.com

In particular, the stories tell of the marriage between Otonosama, the king who lived in Furukawa, and Okon, the daughter of the fox God. This fascinating image is the origin of the Hida Furukawa Kitsunebi Matsuri (騨古川きつね火まつり). This festival is celebrated every year, on the fourth Saturday of September in Hida Furukawa, a picturesque and rural town full of beautiful landscapes, where even today you can breathe a life far from the frenzy of the metropolis.

Kitsunebi Matsuri

photo credits: tradurreilgiappone.com

Happiness and prosperity!

Like almost all the festivals we are used to now, the Kitsunebi Matsuri also aims to bless the harvest, happiness and prosperity for families.

Kitsunebi Matsuri

photo credits: myjapantravels.wordpress.com

But what exactly does the Kitsunebi Matsuri consist of??

First of all, all the participants have fox mustaches drawn on their faces, be they children or elderly, shopkeepers on the road or tourists. It begins with the blessing of local businesses: the dancers carry a dongamaki, a 5 meter long snake, door to door.

Kitsunebi Matsuri

photo credits: myjapantravels.wordpress.com

After that the main event begins. We could say that it is a marriage, but not a common one, but a solemn procession in which the foxes' wedding is celebrated, the Kitsune no Yomeiri.

photo credits: myjapantravels.wordpress.com

The future spouses, a couple bound in real life, are chosen by a pool of candidates at the national level in the town where the wedding ceremony will be held. The long march will lead the bride to the groom as night falls when the Kistunebi begins (a torchlight procession). Those who attend the whole procession will be blessed and can make a wish like a good harvest, or happiness for their family or prosperity in business.

photo credits: tokyopic.com

A romantic curiosity

From 1392, throughout the Muromachi period until the end of the nineteenth century, when Western wedding ceremonies replaced traditional Japanese ceremonies, weddings were held at night and the bride was escorted to her new home by a parade of lights.


The Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri and the rampant euphoria

Let's return to talk about Japanese festivals and today we talk about the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri.

Every year, generally during a weekend in mid-September, the streets of Kishiwada, a small town near Osaka, are invaded by the fervor and euphoria for the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri (岸和田だんじ祭).

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

photo credits: airfrance.co.za, mainichi.jp

The celebrations originated in 1703, by the daimyō Okabe Nagayasu (部長泰). He prayed to the Shintoist gods for a bountiful harvest and this is still the meaning of the festival. However, what makes this celebration special is that it is a speed race pulling the danjiri.

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

photo credits: Justin Yoshida

Danjiri are traditional wooden structures, carved and finely decorated by skilled carpenters and local sculptors. These wagons have the form of small shrines containing the deities and, during the days of the festival, they are precisely dragged through the streets of the neighborhood. Given their weight (they can exceed 3 quintals), the festival is also considered a moment to demonstrate one's courage. In fact, these structures must be towed with only the help of ropes and at full speed!

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

photo credits: Justin Yoshida, Justin Yoshida, japan-magazine.jnto.go.jp, MJY-shogun, Justin Yoshida

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri celebrations

During the festival celebrations, there are 35 danjiri involved, each of them being pulled by a team, representing the respective district of the city. At the control of the structure, on its top, there is the daiku-gata (大工方, master craftsman) whose wild dance serves as encouragement for his team and the crowd. Given the stunts in which he engages, the master craftsman risks his life constantly, but not only this! As we can easily imagine, this festival is also dangerous for all other participants due to the danjiri's dizzying speed. The wood splinters left behind and the fact that you have to elbow your way in to follow them is a danger to the crowd. Four hours of breathless running that ends with a big drinking moment around this wagon, to which dozens of paper lanterns are hung.

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

photo credits: rove.me, Gavin Kealy

More than 500,000 visitors come to Kishiwada to experience the thrill of this celebration, what do you think? Do you find this parade electrifying?