“Matsuri” in Japanese means festival. Recently I got to experience the magic of a matsuri. There are so many different types of matsuri throughout Japan and they seem to be very popular with the Japanese locals and tourists. These festivals include fireworks most of the time, food stalls, games and people walking the streets in traditional outfits.
A lot of people attend the matsuri and even better dress in the traditional Yukata! For those who don’t know what a Yukata is; the traditional summer kimono and looks absolutely beautiful. Don’t worry gentlemen, because you can also get dressed up and wear this!
I went to a hanabi (fireworks) matsuri in Yodogawa recently and it was magical. People everywhere, dressed in Yukata, eating kakigori and different kinds of street food. Later in the night there were fireworks and oh boy. Typical Japan, they were next level. Nothing like I had ever seen before.
In Australia, we have a few nights throughout the year where the city council puts on a firework display, however nothing like this whatsoever. It usually goes for about 15 minutes and they are pretty average.
In Japan, the fireworks lasted an hour and consisted of making shapes, animals and famous characters like Hello Kitty, Pokémon and Doreamon.
This was my first Japanese hanabi matsuri and I was really taken by surprise by how great it was. A few weeks previous to this, Kyoto held the “Gion matsuri”, which is the most famous festival in Japan. Throughout all of July there are different events that take place. Luckily enough I got to experience the particularly special event on July 17th where big floats sail through the closed off streets. All of the Japanese get involved and even more come to watch. It is definitely an event to add to your list of things to do here!
You can find all sorts of delicious food there. Things such as: yakitori, takoyaki, cotton candy and yakisoba, ikayaki, okonomiyaki, kakigori, taiyaki and I think the most popular; ringo ame (candy apple). Be sure to try out some of these delicacies if you ever attend a matsuri!
If the festival sets off the child in you and you want to have some fun, I highly recommend buying some do it yourself fireworks.These come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from 1,000 yen to roughly 7,000 yen ($13-$85). Believe it or not, it is actually legal in Japan! Just be careful of where you do it. The first time I did gave me the shock of my life.
Let’s flashback to March
It was around midnight; my friend, his brother and I all rode our bikes to the river to put on a display of fireworks for the surrounding neighbourhood. We had set a few off and there were pretty cool, medium size-ish. And then we got to one specific firework that came in a little bottle container shaped box. It wasn’t working. We had held the lighter against the string that is meant to light up for about 10 minutes. We fiddled with it over and over.
Continuously trying to light it. Almost 20 minutes later I was ready to give up. My friend and I had our faces stuck right into the little container to see if anything was working. A few moments later, it lit up. I jumped as fast as I could away from the flame. It felt like a movie if you ask me, like James Bond. Luckily for me I had put my phone on record just in case anything happened (DM me if you want to see the video). Since then, I have used fireworks on a few other occasions. However nothing that intense has happened. It is always so much fun.
I think these firework packages range from 1,000 yen to around 7,000 yen, which in AUD is roughly $13-$80. It’s definitely something you need to try if you come to Japan and it’s super easy to find them! Check out the grocery stores or “shit stores”. It’s definitely worth it if you want to have a little excitement without forking out heaps of money. Grab a group of friends and light the sky up!
This is what it looks like in the store.
Don’t forget to check out the matsuri festivals, try the street foods and games and watch the firework display!
More to come!