If there is one thing about the Japanese, it is their love for their festivals. They often mark the occasion by hanging up streamers or decorate lanterns, adding colour and light wherever possible. Most festivals also include elaborate parades. And the Japanese Yayoi festival is no stranger to these colourful traditions.
Held in Nikko, a city nestled in the mountains of Tochigi Prefecture in Japan, this festival signals the arrival of spring. While Nikko is home to several temples and shrines that are registered as World Heritage sites, the Yayoi festival is held at the 1,220-year old Futarasan-jinja shrine.
On the day of the Yayoi festival, 12 beautifully decorated floats called “hana-yatai” – each from Nikko and the nearby towns – are paraded. This parade is an exhibition of ancient traditions that dates as far back as the 8th century.
As a sign of respect for each other, the heads of each town visit each other to exchange pleasantries. Around the towns, wonderful performances take place amid traditional music. People prepare delicious food and sit down to dig in as the country celebrates the festival in traditional Japanese style.
Discovering Japan can take a long time, for the country is an enigmatic land, bursting with surprises at every hot spring, mountaintop, and babbling brook. But you can soak up its culture, one festival at a time. Be sure to plan your travel around the Yayoi festival, and bring yourself one step closer to uncovering the secrets of Japan.
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