Japanese holidays and festivals in April

Japanese festivities during April

Like every country, Japan has its own days and festivals to celebrate. In this article, Inari will tell you more about the Japanese holidays and festivals that take place during the month of April. In this month, you will see birthdays, flower petals and much more.

Shōwa Day or Shōwa no Hi (昭和の日)

This annual Japanese holiday is held on the 29th of April in order to celebrate Emperor Hirohito who reigned from 1926 to 1989. On this Japanese holiday, which is actually the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, people are encouraged to think about the turbulent years that Japan had when it was under the reign of Emperor Hirohito and how Japan recovered afterwards. Some people attend lectures concerning Japan’s participation in the Second World War, others tell stories about what they remember so the memories continue to live on. This holiday is somewhat frowned upon by China, South-Korea and North-Korea because they see it as a way to celebrate Japan’s war past.  This is also the first day of the Golden Week. This week has 4 national Japanese holidays that in combination with a good placed weekend, provides 7 days of hard-earned vacation. A lot of Japanese people take the time to travel and relax during this week. The other three Japanese holidays take place during the beginning of May and we will talk about them in the next article about Japanese holidays and festivals.

Japanese Emperor Hirohito

Emperor Hirohito in his formal attire.

Hanami (花見)

Hanami must be one of the most known Japanese traditions. During the month of April, this tradition is done the most. Various cities hold festivals in honor of the blooming sakura trees, families gather underneath the falling blossoms and other people celebrate this tradition on their own way. There won’t be a park without people eating underneath the sakura trees. It’s a Japanese tradition to have a family or company picnic while looking at the blossoms that fall down like a feather. The picnic is most of the time accompanied by music, entertainment and quite some sake. The best location to watch the falling flowers is Mount Yoshino in Nara. With more than 30.000 trees it’s quite the view! If you’d rather see some festivals, the chances are great that you’ll find one while driving around during April. Most bigger cities have their own Hanami festival and even smaller towns also have some festivities to celebrate this amazing time of the year.

A typical flower viewing afternoon for Japanese families or companies.

A typical flower viewing afternoon for Japanese families or companies.

Takayama Festival or Takayama Matsuri (高山祭)

This Japanese festival that takes place during the 14th and 15th of April, is one of the three most popular festivals in Japan. During this festival in Takayama, Gifu, the local shrine called the Hie Shrine or Sanno-sama is celebrated. It also has a complementary festival during the Autumn. This is done over the course of the two days and hundred of thousands of people from all over the Japan and the world attend it! The most popular event during this festival is the display of the festival floats. These tall and heavily decorated festival floats are put in public in the streets of Takayama. Some of these festival floats also have some sort of mechanical dolls or karakuri on top of them. These karakuri perform dances and move the entire time. During all of this, a procession is held as well. The people from the shrine carry a portable shrine, or mikoshi, through the streets. This portable shrine holds the shrine’s deity or kami. At night, the floats are carried through the streets of Takayama while the visitors celebrate the shrine and enjoy themselves. If you want to witness this beautiful festival, be sure to book a hotel in advance. Due to its immense popularity, most of the available hotel rooms or other places to sleep are already taken. You could always stay in a neighbouring city but that might make it difficult to see the evening part of this amazing festival.

The Takayama Festival Floats and a karakuri.

The Takayama Festival Floats and a karakuri.

These are the most important Japanese holidays and festivals that take place in April. If you want to know more about this subject, feel free to contact us or write a comment.

We’ll be back next month to tell you more about the Japanese holidays and festivals that take place during May.

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