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Japan Glances Index

Discover Japan by picking a theme from the list below and exploring the related topics. Each short overview is illustrated with colorful photographs.

A Blustery Harbinger of Spring (Japan in Photos)

People are buffeted by strong winds as they enjoy kawazu-zakura cherry trees in full bloom along the banks of the Kyū Nakagawa River in Tokyo on Friday, February 17, 2017. Haruichiban, or the first southern gale of the year, was observed in the Kantō region on Friday, three days later than last year. (© Jiji)

The Japanese Climate

From subarctic Hokkaidō to subtropical Okinawa, Japan’s climate varies greatly by region.

Japan’s 72 Microseasons

In ancient times the Japanese divided their year into 24 periods based on classical Chinese sources. The natural world comes to life in the even more vividly named 72 subdivisions of the traditional Japanese calendar.

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.

“Wagashi” and the Japanese Tradition of HospitalityMayuzumi Madoka

In the last few years, the English term “sweets” has come to be used in Japanese as a hold-all term referring to all kinds of cakes and confectionary. But it seems a shame to lump the Japanese wagashi traditionally served with tea into the same category. They have a special role in social ritual that makes them quite different. This spring, I took part in a round-table on the subject of tradition…

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.

Cherry Blossom Landscapes (Photos)Saitō Ryōichi (Photographer)

Cherry blossoms have a special significance for the Japanese. Since ancient times, people’s hearts have soared as the cherry trees come into bloom, heralding the return of spring. Photographer Saitō Ryōichi has traveled the length and breadth of the archipelago to compile this collection of images encapsulating the joys of the Japanese spring.

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