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Culture Matsuri (祭)

Matsuri (祭) are Japan's traditional Shinto festivals taking place mostly in late spring and summer. Participants typically carry a mikoshi in the streets of their district or around their local Shinto shrine. Some matsuri have thousands of participants and up to a few million onlookers. The most famous matsuri in Japan are :

  • Hakata Gion Matsuri in Fukuoka
  • Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri in Kyōto
  • Mantono Matsuri and On Matsuri in Nara
  • Sanja Matsuri, Kanda Matsuri and Fukagawa Matsuri in Tōkyō
  • Nebuta/Neputa Matsuri in Aomori




Japanese festivals are traditional festive occasions often celebrated with dance and music in Japan. Many festivals have their roots in traditional Chinese festivals. Still, they have undergone extensive changes over time to have little resemblance to their original form, despite sharing the same name and date. Various local festivals (e.g. Tobata Gion) are mostly unknown outside a given prefecture. Unlike most people in East Asia, Japanese people generally do not celebrate the Lunar New Year, its observance having been supplanted by the Western New Year's Day on 1 January in the late 19th century (see Japanese New Year); however, many continue to observe several of its cultural practices. Many Chinese residents in Japan and more traditional shrines and temples still celebrate the Lunar New Year in parallel with the Western New Year. In Yokohama Chinatown, Japan's biggest Chinatown, tourists from all over Japan come to enjoy the festival, similar to Nagasaki's Lantern Festival based in Nagasaki Chinatown. Festivals are often based around one event, with food stalls, entertainment, and carnival games to keep people entertained. Some are based around temples or shrines, others Hanabi (fireworks), and others around contests where the participants sport loins cloths (see: Hadaka Matsuri).

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