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Halloween in Japan: Costumes, Candy, and . . . Star Wars?Nippon.com Staff

Japan has its fair share of annual observances and festivals, but as a country that loves a good matsuri, it is always open to the idea of importing new ones. A case in point is Halloween. While this spooky autumn festival with European roots once made its mark only in certain pockets of Japan home to concentrated foreign populations, like areas near military bases and expat-heavy neighborhoods in…

Customs, Festivals, and Observances: The Japanese Year

The year in Japan is characterized by the passing of the four seasons, but every month features its own traditional festivals and other customs—some ancient and some with more recent origins—that give a sense of the time of year. Here is a month-by-month guide to some of the most significant events in the Japanese calendar.

A Year in the Life of Ise Shrine (Photos)Nakano Haruo (Photographer)

The year 2013 was a special one in Ise, as Japan’s most important Shinto shrine was rebuilt from scratch—the latest iteration of a ceremony carried out every 20 years since the seventh century. This selection of photographs by a man who grew up close to the shrine shows the beauty of the four seasons in one of Japan’s most important sacred spaces.

Japan’s Festivals: A Matsuri Map

No one knows for sure how many festivals take place in Japan over the course of the year, but estimates vary from 100,000 to 300,000—all of them unique reflections of the history and culture of the local area. Here, we introduce a selection of 20 of the most notable festivals from around the country. For related content, see “Japanese Festivals and the Annual Cycle of Life.”

“Nebuta Baka” Festival Fever in Aomori

Every year, the city of Aomori is swept up in a frenzy of excitement as gargantuan illuminated festival floats parade through the streets of the city. The high spirits of summer are as much a part of the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri as the festival’s iconic giant lanterns. Get a taste of the mania that sweeps Aomori each August: “Nebuta Baka.”

Strolling Around Old Tokyo

The spirit of Edo lives on in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, more than any other part of the city. Asakusa also plays host to many of the latest developments in fashion, cuisine, and culture. This article looks at some of the shops and restaurants that capture the essence of the neighborhood.

Experiencing the Sanja Matsuri

Involving some 100 mikoshi and attracting crowds of well over a million people, the Sanja Matsuri is one of the biggest of the thousands of festivals that bring color and exhilaration to people around Japan each year. But at its heart it remains a local celebration, with its roots in the heart of the community.

Japanese Festivals and the Annual Cycle of LifeYamamoto Tetsuya

There are said to be anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 festivals in Japan. Almost every community has its own unique festival, or matsuri, with its unique origins and special features. Matsuri enthusiast Yamamoto Tetsuya provides some background.

Unlocking the Secrets of the Sanja Matsuri

An investigation into the origins of the Sanja Matsuri reveals deep connections with the Buddhist temple of Sensōji and the Shintō Asakusa Shrine. We talk to representatives from each to find out more about the background to the festival and the character of Asakusa and its people.

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