In Japan, spring is the season for renewal, rebirth, life and growth. When you think of spring in Japan, you would usually think of the cherry blossoms that bloom all throughout this country. The cherry blossoms are a symbol of “human life, transience, and nobleness.”(Spring, JNTO) There is more to spring than just the cherry blossom viewing. All throughout Japan, different prefectures are celebrating festivals to welcome the coming of spring and to pray for good health. Some of the festivals that might occur in Japan are: Dai Himonjiyaki, Yayoi Festival, Hina Matsuri, Kodomo no Hi, and Aoi Matsuri.
To begin with, the Hina Matsuri is celebrated all around Japan. The name Hina Matsuri means “Doll’s Festival”. The family prays for their daughter that they grow up to be in good health and blissful life. During this event, the families will set up a hina-ningyo, which are dolls for the the Hina Matsuri. Various dolls are decorated upon five to seven tiered stands. At the top, the emperor and empress dolls are placed. After the emperor and empress, the next dolls on the second tier are the court ladies, or sannin-kanjo, and then the five musicians (gonin-bayashi). After the musicians, the two ministers will follow. The two ministers are called udaijin and sadaijin. At the very bottom are three servants. The dolls are a symbol of protection to ward off any evil spirit. After the festival comes to a close, the family will throw the dolls into the rivers to take away the sickness and bad fortune it may hold. In Japan, it is believed that if one does not pack up the dolls the daughters will have trouble getting married.
Soon after, the Dai Himonjiyaki festival is celebrated in Kumamoto. This festival is celebrated during the weekend halfway through March. Dai Himonjiyaki is a fire festival to symbolize the preservation of grass that remains in good condition. The main events are held around the towns surrounding Mt. Aso. On the mountain slope, you can see a massive Chinese character that is set ablaze across the plains. The Chinese character symbolizes fire and stretches across 350 meters. This fire is called no-yaki, which is “the burning of the withered grass in the plains” (Daihimonjiyaki). Another event also occurs at the Hifuri Shinji at the Ichinomiya Aso Shrine. At this shrine, people come to pray for good harvest and to celebrate the betrothals of the gods. This festival dates back to 1984. This celebration was started by local farmers who were carrying out their periodical burning of the grass.
Afterwards, the Yayoi festival will be celebrated in Tochigi. The Yayoi festival will occur on the third and seventeenth of April. At Nikko, these spring festivals are an indication of the coming of spring. The main attractions of this event are the beautifully decorated floats that travel down the streets. This festival is also called Gota matsuri, “Festival of Disputes”, because if one mistake is made, a conflict will surface between towns. Many...