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Fire Works in Japan

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Japanese Matsuri, traditional festival
Sake Maker
Japanese traditional glass wind chime
family seal, Kamon
Traditional Culture

Culture

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Japanese Traditional Culture

Matsuri/Traditional Festivals & Hanabi Firework Displays

There are over 300,000 traditional festivals throughout Japan, each one offering a unique and enchanting experience. Communities, local shrines, and temples are the primary groups who organize most of the festivals you’ll see. Many of these events include the carrying of portable shrines, called Mikoshi, by a group of men or women in the hope that their town will receive some blessing, health, safety, and great harvest in the coming season or year. Each festival varies in size, with some of the largest attracting 250,000-300,000 spectators. At these massive events, you can find thousands of people dancing in traditional Matsuri costumes unique to the regions. Festivals are truly spectacles of culture that must be seen in person to be appreciated.

 

Frequently, many Matsuri festivals end with majestic fireworks called Hanabi. Hanabi literally means “flower fire” but can be seen in the shape of cartoon characters, waterfalls, and more. These showings are most popular in the summer months, and can last up to 2 hours. Many Hanabi shows are free, but not all are so check ahead of time. If you would like to see a Hanabi show, you will want to plan your housing, travel, and seating far ahead of time to make sure you can enjoy the majestic experience. 

 

Both the festivals and their fiery festive endings were my absolute favorite things to do when I was going up in Japan. Even now, it gets me excited.

Recommended Resources

  • Tsunagaru Japan has some examples of popular festivals.

  • Japan Talk has a calendar of more festivals and Hanabi (fireworks). 

  • In some festivals, the firework is the main event. You can check out Tsunagaru Japan to see some of the best fireworks festivals.

Traditional Craft

Kogei means “traditional arts and crafts” in Japanese. Japan offers a wide range of traditional craft activities including woven textiles, dyed textiles, ceramics, wood/stone/metal works, and more. Below I’ve listed my favorite traditional arts and crafts experiences that you can check out throughout Japan. You can see even more arts and crafts options at Kogei Japan’s website

 

If you are looking for a place to find many different types of crafts in one place, there are many options as well.  For an exciting experience full of crafting fun, you may want to check out the Oedo Antique Market. It’s an outdoor flea market and has antique Yoroi, kimono fabrics, ceramics, and many more. For retail stores, check out Tokyo Craft Map. This website shows you all the great craft shops in Tokyo. Best Living Japan also has some good suggestions, specifically for gift shopping. Aoyama Square in Tokyo has various traditional crafts from all over Japan. In Kanazawa Craft Hirosaka, you’ll find a wide variety of Kanazawa crafts. Kanazawa is well known for many traditional crafts, such as Kutani ceramics, gold art, and lacquerware. You can visit their gallery to see or purchase them.

Ceramics

Different styles of ceramics are unique to each region. If you have a passion for ceramics, I highly recommend visiting some of the most well-known places. Here is the Michelin Guide for Japanese ceramics. 

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Kintsugi

Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken ceramics by applying lacquer mixed with gold. You can save your favorite broken ceramic if you use this technique. Some find it spiritual because it represents our life.  Some hardships may break you for the time being, but you can be restored and have a life more unique and more beautiful by overcoming the challenges. There are many Kintsugi workshops.

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Urushi/Japanese lacquerware

Have you ever seen black and red wooden soup bowls or chopsticks? If so, then you have seen Japanese Urushi lacquerware. It is recognized as one of the most beautiful and highly valued Japanese traditional crafts. Japan Object has a good guide for Masterpieces of Japanese Lacquer art. Urushi ware is made all over Japan, but certain areas are especially famous for it.

List of Regional Urushi Work

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Additional Traditional Crafts: Washi Paper and Amezaiku (Candy) Crafting

Japanese traditional Washi paper shops are full of a wide variety of beautiful washi paper. I have recommended three of my favorites in Tokyo and Nagoya below:

 

Amezaiku/candy crafting is another unique tradition. The craftsmanship of this unique tradition is just superb. They look so realistic and don’t even look edible. Mastering this crafting skill takes a very long time, but you must complete each one quickly while the candy is warm and soft. Here is the video of Amezaiku making

Traditional Performing Arts

 

Kabuki

Japanese culture is rich with traditional performing arts. Kabuki is a very popular style of traditional theater that has captured audiences around the world. Culture Trip has an excellent introduction to them.  

Youtube link

Kabukiza Theater

This theater is in Ginza, Tokyo but has information of other theaters. You don’t  need a ticket to enjoy the facility. Don’t forget to check out the restaurants, the gallery, the rooftop garden and the shops. 

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Noh

Noh is one of the most ancient form of performing arts. Japan Objects has a great article on Noh. While you’re in Japan, you can catch a incredible performance at these theaters.

Youtube link

Yamamoto Nohgakudo Osaka

 

Japan Arts CouncilーNational Engei Hall Tokyo

 

Kyoto Kanse Kai Kyoto


Ningyo Joruri Bungaku

This performing art is registered as a World Intangile Heritage by UNESCO  in 2003. It’s a combination of Shaumisen gitar music, puppetry permance, and narrative recitation. Puppetry performance requires highly trained skills and make the dolls truly alive. More info on where to catch a performance.

 

Western Japan Nigyo Joruri info​​

 

Awaji Ningyouza in Hyogo

Craft
Festival
Performing Arts
Green and Sustainable Travel
Farm Stay
Green Lodging

Green Travel

Green/Sustainable Tourism

Farm-Stay

For those looking into sustainable tourism, WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms/Willing Workers On Organic Farms.) is a wonderful resource.  If you’d like your whole trip to be sustainable, WWOOF has a program in Japan which allows you to volunteer on various organic farms in exchange for food and accommodation through this program. 

 

You can also pay for your lodging and stay at one of many locally run farm-stays in Japan, such as Akita Farm-Stay. Authentic Japan offers a list and additional information about farm-stay options all around Japan.

 

Kominka/traditional Guest House Stay

Kominka is a traditional family-style home. They are usually located in rural areas of Japan and are a few hundred years old. They are built with natural materials, and some of them even have thatched roofs. Sadly, they’re disappearing and becoming rare to find, but some towns are committed to preserving this piece of history and restoring them as guest houses. You can learn more about Kominka at Toki’s website  and find available Ojika Island.

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Bio Hotels

If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel but still want to be sustainable, you can stay at one of the Bio Hotel’s certified stays. Bio Hotels were established in Europe in 2001 with the support of an organic certification body, with the gathering of highly ambitious hotels and production groups. BIO means organic, so all of the meals, drinks, and cosmetics (shampoo, soap, skin care, etc.) that you will find in their certified stays meet the organic criteria held by the Bio Hotel certification body. Natural materials are used as much as possible for towels, bed linens, building materials and interior materials of the facility, and take continuous efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, including active use of renewable energy.

Green Places to Visit

 

Zero Garbage Town

The Zero Waste Community is a small village with less than 1700 people who separate their garbage into 45 categories. As a result, more than 80% of the waste is kept out of incinerators and landfills. It’s fascinating to learn how they’ve done such a feat in the Kamikatsu village in Tokushima. 

 

Waste Disposal Facilities

Many waste disposal plants welcome visitors and charge no fees. Even if you are not a civil engineer or an environmentalist, it’s pretty interesting to learn how Japan’s garbage and industrial waste are processed in these state-of-the-art facilities. They don’t usually have English web pages. You can ask your hotel clerk to search for the nearest waste disposal plan and get visitor information. 

Recommended Resources: Green Stops in Japan

  • The Clean Authority of Tokyo 23 cities has visitor information on their website.

  • (https://www.union.tokyo23-seisou.lg.jp.e.de.hp.transer.com/cgi-bin/event_cal/cal_month.cgi

  • Musashino Clean Center in Tokyo is a high-tech waste disposal plant which was an award winner of “Good Design” in 2017. The four critical concepts are environmental safety, disaster resistance, stylish design, and openness to the community. Free to visit 10 a.m.-5 p.m. except for Tuesday, holidays and End of the Year & New Year holidays. They even open a bar at the facility at certain times of the year. You can try some drinks with clever names.   

  • The Osaka Maishima Incineration Plant was designed by Friedrich Stowasser, an architect/environmentalist. This plant was built in 2001 with environmental awareness and conservation ideas at the forefront. The whimsical and colorful plant attracts over 12,000 visitors a year.

  • The Metropolitan Outer Area Underground Discharge Channel in Tokyo goes down 50 meters/164 feet underground. Here you can learn about one of the largest underground discharge channels.

  • Super Eco Town in Tokyo

  • The Kodaira Sewage Museum in Kodaira City, Tokyo allows you to visit the actual sewage pipes and see waste-cleaning microbes through a microscope.

  • Kureha Ecology Management Co in Kanagawa are a leading industrial waste service company.

  • Tire Park (Nishi-Rokugo Park) in Ota ward, Tokyo is very popular in this community. The city used about 3000 recycled rubber tires from the nearby Kawasaki plant to build the park. In the park, you will encounter dinosaurs and robots all made of tires.

Places to Visit
Factory & Plants Visit
Food, Sake & Beer Brewery

Visiting breweries, plants, and factories

Many businesses welcome visitors to their plants and factories. Plant tours are generally self-explanatory, and many have English tours or English pamphlets once you get there.

Food, Sake & Beer Brewery

Sake

 

Beer

 

Whiskey

 

Winery


Food

 

Sweets/Snacks

Well, you can get to know the rice cracker maker. With 500 yen, you can make you your own rice cracker. No reservation is necessary. 

Condiments and other food

 

Non-Food items

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Condiments & other food items
Non-food items

Activities & Interests

Discover Topics

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Useful Tips & Apps

Torii, Japanese traditional gate or arch in temples and shrines
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