You are on page 1of 12

1

BLHL 1312
JAPANESE LANGUAGE I

NAME: ONG KAR WENG


MATRIC NO: B020910004
FACULTY: FKEKK
LECTURER: EN. NIZAM
TITLE: JAPANESE FESTIVALS
DATE OF SUBMISSION: 10/08/2009
2

INTRODUCTION

My name is ong kar weng, student from FKEKK would like to say a thousand of thank you to
En. Nizam for giving me this golden opportunity to deliver my opinion. The main reason of why
I choose Japanese language as my third language is mostly comes from my interest. When I was
still young, I had already fancied about the Japanese animation. May be one day I master the
Japanese language, I can watch animation without looking the subtitle. I too prefer their food like
sushi. Their traditional clothes look so gorgeously and the clothes they wear so fashionable. The
Japanese girl is quite pretty too. It made me feel curiosity and want to know more about the
Japan. That is why I choose Japanese language. In the rapidly growing and ever changing world
that we live in, the technology is developed faster than we can expected. Japan, known as an
advanced and high-tech country, is become the ideal working places for many people. To
upgrade myself and get a chance to work at there, I choose to learn Japanese language. Even
though I do not have this chance, I still can use Japanese language to communicate with Japanese
customers. I too can gain more knowledge about engineering by referring their journals and
talks. The third reason is the encouragement of fellow friends. Since we pass our MUET test, we
have to drop 2 credits. They all decided to take Japanese language and I agree it because I have
the interest. Therefore, I take Japanese language as the third language to recoup the 2 credits i
loss. Furthermore, our seniors also advised us to take this language because it is easier than other
language. But, I feel that I have been tricked by them because this language is not easy to learn.
We have to learn their alphabet and many new words. Their grammar is quite tough too. Never
mind, I have already started learn this new language and I found it is very fun too. In this
assignment, I choose to do Japanese festivals. I will cover all the main Japanese festivals.
Hopefully, En.Nizam will satisfy with my work. Thank you.
3

Japanese festivals
Japanese festivals are traditional festive occasions. Some festivals have their roots in
Chinese festivals but have undergone tremendously changes as they mixed local customs. Some
are so different that they do not remotely resemble the original festival despite sharing the same
name and date. They have various local festivals (e.g. Tobata Gion) that are mostly unknown
outside a given prefecture. You can always find a festival somewhere in Japan. Many Japanese
people do not celebrate Chinese New Year, although Chinese residents in Japan still do. In
Yokohama Chinatown, Japan’s biggest Chinatown, tourists from all over Japan come to enjoy the
festival. And similarly the Nagasaki Lantern Festival is based in Nagasaki’s China town.

Events within festivals


Festivals are often based around one or two main events, with entertainment, food stalls, and
carnival games to keep people entertained. Some are based around temples or shrines, others
hanabi (fireworks), and still others around contests where the contester sport loin cloths.
4

Local festivals (Matsuri)


Matsuri is the Japanese word for a festival or holiday. In Japan, festivals are usually
sponsored by a local shrine or temple, though they can be secular. There is no specific matsuri
days for all of Japan; dates vary from area to area, and even within a specific area, but festival
days do tend to cluster around traditional holidays such as Setsubun or Obon. Almost every
locale has at least one matsuri in late summer/ early autumn, usually related to the rice harvest.
Notable matsuri often feature processions which may include elaborate floats. Preparation for
these processions is usually organized at the level of neighborhoods, or machi. Prior to these, the
local kami may be ritually installed in mikoshi and paraded through the streets.

Figure above is mikoshi.


One can always find in the vicinity of a matsuri booths selling souvenirs and food such as
takoyaki, and games, such as goldfish scooping. Karaoke contests, sumo matches, and other
forms of entertainment are often organized in conjunction with matsuri. If the festival is next to a
lake, renting a boat is also an attraction. Matsuri of Hirosaki, are often broadcast on television for
the entire nation to enjoy.

Sapporo snow festival:


This is one of the largest festivals of the year for the city of Sapporo. It is held in February for
one week. This event attracts over two million people from around the world every year. About
one dozen large sculptures are built for the festival. This festival features ice sculptures, small
and large. At night the sculptures are illuminated by different colored lights. There is a fireworks
show during the festival as well.
5

Aomori nebuta festival:


This festival is held annually and features colorful lantern floats called nebuta which are pulled
through the streets of Central Aomori. During this festival, 20 large nebuta floats are paraded
through the streets near Aomori JR rail station. These floats are constructed of wooden bases and
metal frames, Japanese papers; washi, are painted onto the frames. These amazing floats are
finished off with the historical figures or kabuki being painted on the paper. These floats can take
up to a year to complete. there is a dance portion of this festival. There are haneto dancers and
they wear special costumes for this dance.

Cherry Blossom Festivals:

Japan celebrates the entire season of the cherry blossoms. All


over Japan festivals are held and include food and at night beautiful lanterns. An
interesting fact concerning cherry blossoms: -According to a study, plants in urban
areas have plants that bloom are blooming faster. Some locations of cherry blossom
festivals include:
6

Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festival in Okinawa. This festival takes


place from late January – mid February Matsuyama Shiroyama Koen Cherry Blossom Festival in
Matsuyama-city, Ehime. This festival takes place early April.
-Matsue Jozan Koen Festival in Matsue-city, Shimane. This festival has a feature of illuminating
the cherry blossom trees at night. This festival takes place late March-early April.

Nationwide festivals
New Year:
New year also known as oshogatsu is a most important and elaborate of Japan’s annual
events. Before the New Year, homes are cleaned, debts are paid off, and osechi (food in
lacquered trays for the New Year) is prepared or brought. Osechi foods are traditional foods
which are chosen for their lucky colors, shapes, or lucky-sounding names in hopes of obtaining
good luck in various areas of life during the New Year. Homes are decorated and the holidays are
celebrated by family gatherings, visits to temples or shrines and formal calls on relatives and
friends. The first day of the year is usually spent with members of the family. People try to stay
awake and eat toshikoshisoba, soba noodles to be eaten at midnight. People also visit Buddhist
temples and Shinto shrines. Some games played at New Year’s are karuta (a card game),
hanetsuki (similar to badminton), tako age (kiteflying), and komamawashi (spinning tops). These
games are played to bring more luck for the year. Exchanging New Year’s greeting cards is
another important Japanese custom. Also special allowances are given to children, which are
called otoshidama. They also decorate their entrances with kagami-mochi (2 mochi rice balls
placed one on top of the other, with a tangerine on top), and kadomatsu (pine tree decorations).

Figure from left to right: the japanese new year feast, temple or shinto shrines, toshikoshisoba
and karuta.
7

Figure from left to right: osechi, hanetsuki, tako-age, komamawashi.


8

Doll festival
This festival is held at 3 March. Its other names are sangatsu sekku (3rd month festival), Momo
Sekku (Peach Festival), Joshi no Sekku (Girls’ Festival). This is the day families pray for the
happiness and prosperity of their girls and to help ensure that they grow up healthy and beautiful.
The celebration takes place both inside the home and at the seashore. Both parts are meant to
ward off evil spirits from girls. Young girls put on their best kimonos and visit their friends’
homes. Tiered platforms for hina ningyo are set up in the home, and the family celebrates with a
special meal of hishimochi (diamond-shaped rice cakes) and shirozake (rice malt with sake).

Hanami
Hanami festivals are held at Shinto shrines during the month of April. Excursions and picnics for
enjoying flowers, particularly cherry blossoms are also common. In some places flower viewing
parties are held on traditionally fixed dates. This is one of the most popular events during spring.
The subject of flower viewing has long held an important place in literature, dance and the fine
arts. Ikebana (flower arrangement) is also a popular part of Japanese culture and still practiced by
many people today. Some main things people do during this event are: games, folk songs, folk
dance, flower displays, rides, parades, concerts, kimono shows, booths with food and other
things, beauty pageant, and religious ceremonies. Families go out during weekends to see the
cherry blossoms.
9

Boy’s Day
May is the month of the Iris Festival. The tall-stemmed Japanese iris is a symbolic flower. Its
long, narrow leaves resemble the sharp blades off a sword, and for many centuries it has been the
custom place iris leaves in a boy’s bath to give him a martial spirit. Originally May 5 was a
festival for boys corresponding to the Doll Festival, for girls, but in 1948 it was renamed
Children’s day, and made a national holiday. However, this is might be a misnomer; the symbols
of courage and strength mainly honor boys. It is customary on this day for families with male
children to fly koinobori (carp streamers, a symbol of success) outside the house, display warrior
dolls (musha ningyo) inside, and eat chimaki (rice cakes wrapped in cogan grass or bamboo
leaves) and kashiwamochi (rice cakes filled with bean paste and wrapped in oak leaves). Also
known as kodomo no hi.

Figure from left to right: koinobori, musha ningyo, chimaki, kashiwamochi.

Bon Festival
This festival is held at 13-15 August. Its other name is urabon. In this festival, a “spirit altar” is
set up in front of the Butsudan (Buddhist family altar) to welcome the ancestors’ sould. A priest
is usually asked to come and read a sutra. Among the traditional preparations for the ancestors’
return are the cleaning of grave sites and preparing a path from them to the house and the
provision of straw horses or oxen for the ancestors’ transportation. The welcoming fire
(mukaebi) built on the 13th and the send-off fire (okuribi) built on the 16th are intended to light
the path.
10
11

7-5-3 festival
This festival is held at 15 november. In this festival, five-year-old boys and seven-or three-year-
old girls are taken to the local shrine to pray for their safe and healthy future. This festival started
because of the belief that children of certain ages were especially prone to bad luck and hence in
need of divine protection. Children are usually dressed in traditional clothing for the occasion
and after visiting the shrine many people buy chitose-ame (“thousand-year candy”) sold at the
shrine.

Preparation for the New Year and Year end fair


Preparations for seeing in the New Year were originally undertaken to greet the toshigami, or
deity of the incoming year. These began on the 13th of December, when the house was given a
thorough cleaning; the date is usually nearer the end of the month now. The house is then
decorated in the traditional fashion: A sacred rope of straw (shimenawa) with dangling white
paper strips (shide) is hung over the front door to prevent evil spirits from entering and to show
the presence of the tosihgami. It is also customary to place kadomatsu, an arrangement of tree
sprigs, beside the entrance way. A special altar, known as toshidana (“year shelf”), is piled high
with kagamimochi (flat, round rice cakes), sake (rice wine), persimmons, and other foods in
honor of the toshigami. A fair is traditionally held in late December at shrines, temples or in local
neighborhoods. This is in preparation for the New Year holidays. Decorations and sundry goods
are sold at the fair. Originally these year-end fairs provided opportunities for farmers, fisherfolk
and mountain dwellers to exchange goods and buy clothes and other necessities for the coming
year.

Figure from left to right: toshigami, shimenawa, kadomatsu, kagamimochi.


12

Omisoka
In 31 December, people do the general house cleaning to welcome coming year and not to keep
having impure influences. Many people visit Buddhist temples to hear the temple bells rung 108
times at midnight (joya no kane). This is to announce the passing of the old year and the coming
of the new. The reason they rung 108 times is because of the Buddhist belief that human beings
are plagued by 108 earthly desires or passions (bonno). With each ring one desire is dispelled. It
is also a custom to eat zaru-soba in the hope that one’s family fortunes will extend like the long
noodles.

Conclusion :
In Japan, there are many festivals celebrated over the entire year. The festivals can be divided
into local festivals and nationwide festivals. Dates of local festivals are varies from area to area,
and even within a specific area, whereas nationwide festivals have a fixed day and celebrated all
over the country. Festivals in Japan are mostly celebrated by all the people come from the whole
world. During the festivals, there are a lot of entertainments such as games, shows, food stalls
and so on to keep people entertain. The purpose of the festivals is to let people have a holiday
and in the meantime focus their time with their family. As we all know, nihonjin is the most
hardworking people in the world. They put all of their effort in their work, sometimes they may
be neglect their family. With the celebration of festivals, they can have free time to generate the
relationship with their family. The existences of festivals are come from their ancestors’ ideas.
They believe their ancestors have a great wisdom and the purpose for having such a festival must
has its own meaning. Due to their respect of their ancestors, they will celebrate all of the festivals
widely to pay their gratitude. They will follow the traditional methods, wearing traditional
clothes, eating traditional food, and so on. This shows that nihonjin is a well-discipline and
gratitude people.

References :
1. http://www.wikipedia.com
2. http://www.japanlifestyle.com.
3. http://www.japan-zone.com
4. http://gojapan.about.com