December is just a few weeks away and many people are already excited about Christmas. Though the Christmas season is not a major event in Japan, it has been gaining recognition in the recent years. Aside from Christmas, there are other things in Japan that you should be looking forward to in the month of December. Here are two celebrations that you can take note of: first is the Kasuga Wakamiya On-Matsuri (December 15 to 18) and the second is the Emperor’s Birthday (December 23). Check them out!
The Kasuga Wakamiya On-Matsuri is a large festival held in December in Nara. It’s an event worth attending where people dressed in traditional costumes dance to the tune of music. It is said that the festival started a long time ago when a plague hit the area. In order to eradicate the disaster, people prayed to gods for blessings and a richer harvest.
This three-day festival is held from December 15 to 18. The main event, known as the “Hon Matsuri (Main Festival),” occurs on the 17th. On this day, you will be able to witness the “Jidai Gyoretsu (A Procession of Eras)” where people are dressed in Heian costumes (priests, samurais, feudal lord, etc.). The procession starts at 12:00 PM at the Nara Prefectural Office and ends at 3:00 PM at Wakamiya Shrine, an Important Cultural Property in Nara. More than 500 people usually join the parade.
This festival is a nice way to experience Japan in its traditional and historic time. It has been passed down through several generations and is considered one of the biggest and most important events in the country.
Japan, as a constitutional monarchy, requires an emperor. The current presiding Emperor of Japan is Akihito. He is the 125th Emperor of Japan and he was born on December 23, 1933. Japan celebrates his birthday on this day which is considered a national holiday. It is at this time that the Imperial Palace’s gates are opened to the public. This is the only time that you’ll be able to witness the Imperial Family waving their hands on their home’s balcony. Many well-wishers come to the place to greet the Emperor on his big day while waving Japanese flags.
If you’d like to see the actual Imperial Family, feel free to join the crowd on the Emperor’s Birthday. You can also bring along a tiny Japanese flag.
Other than the illuminations this winter season, don’t forget to attend these two important events in December 2017. There is nothing more enjoyable than spending your December days in Japan!