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What are 10 things about Japan for you?

KAZUE.jpg

The first thing that comes readily to mind when I think of Japan is its seasons.  There are many countries that have 4 seasons.  But I think that Japan is a country in which more people recognize and live daily life in accordance with the seasons.  I would like to tell you about events that take place each season which I don’t want you to miss when you go to Japan.

I will start by telling you about 4 seasonal events.  Then I will introduce other things which I pick up randomly about Japan.

1. Hanami in Spring

Which flower is your image of Japan?  Most of you might think Cherry Blossom.  And, I think that it is true.  We call Cherry Blossoms “Sakura”.  In the spring, when the Sakura is blooming, it is time to have Hanami!!  Hanami literally means “seeing the cherry blossoms”.  But actually it is more like a picnic under the Sakura trees where everyone is eating food, drinking alcohol, singing, and so on…  There are many places to have Hanami in Japan.  However, so many people go to these places as a group during Hanami season.  Therefore you have to save a spot in the daytime if your Hanami starts in the evening; otherwise you can’t get a place.  I still recommend having Hanami at night.  It is a great atmosphere.

2. Matsuri in Summer

The main points of Natsu Matsuri (summer festivals) are the Bon dance (on Odori), Fireworks, and booths for food.  These festivals are held everywhere and on different scales in July and August throughout the prefectures, regions and towns.  This festival comes from rewarding farmers and people related to agriculture for their hard work.

Many people wear Yukata for these festivals.  Yukata is like Kimono (Japanese traditional cloth), but is worn only in summer.

3. Momiji gari (going maple viewing) in Autumn

This is good activity for Autumn!!  Momiji means maple, but Momiji gari is not only for maple.  Many trees turn red or yellow in the fall, so you can see the great views with colors like a drawing palette.  Also, you can pick up some seasonal fruit in Autumn.  It’s fun and yummy as well.

4. Illuminations in Winter

Not many people decorate their own houses in Japan.  But there are several places that are decorated during Christmas time. We refer to these Christmas lights by using the English word “Illumination.” My hometown has a one event called the Pageant of Starlight festival in December.  Trees along the street are illuminated by some 600,000 light bulbs.  You can see this in the movie below.

Kobe Luminarie

5. Onsen (Hot springs)

This is for all seasons.  Onsen are not only for refreshing and getting warm.  The water of hot springs are said to be beneficial for health.  The health benefit is different at each Onsen.

And if you go to a Roten buro (Outdoor Onsen), you can enjoy beautiful flowers and wind in Spring, refresh your body during Summer, see the autumn color of leaves in fall, and keep warm in Winter.

新緑の露天風呂

6. Tatemono (Buildings)

I think that Japanese buildings are one of the things which we can be proud of to the world.  As you know, Japan has many earthquakes, so building architects, carpenters, researchers, and others are making continuous efforts to make buildings that can withstand earthquakes for a long time.

7. 100 yen shop

100 yen shops are very popular in Japan.  We can get many different things there and all things are 100 yen (currently about 80 cents US).  It’s one of the necessary shops nowadays.

8. Personal seal

We don’t often use signature in Japan.  We use a personal seal instead of signature.

9. Fortune telling by blood type

This is interesting fortune telling.  In Japan, we have certain ideas about a person’s characteristics and personality based on their blood type.  I heard that this is also common in Korea.  I found a Korean movie which explains about each character (it has English text).

10.  Karaoke

Do you know what the word Karaoke means?  “Kara” means empty and “Oke” means orchestra.

Many Japanese people hesitate to sing in front of many people even if we like to sing.  That is why we have Karaoke places everywhere.  I am almost sure that you will like Karaoke box.

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