Mikoshi and Loincloths at Kamakura Matsuri - Japanese festivals are traditional festive occasions. Some festivals have their roots in Chinese festivals but have undergone dramatic changes as they mixed with local customs. Matsuri is the Japanese word for a festival or holiday. In Japan, festivals are usually sponsored by a local shrine or temple, though they can be secular.
There is no specific matsuri days for all of Japan; dates vary from area to area, and even within a specific area, but festival days do tend to cluster around traditional holidays such as Setsubun or Obon. Almost every locale has at least one matsuri in late summer or autumn, usually related to the harvests. Matsuri almost always feature processions which include elaborate floats and "mikoshi" or portable shrines which are paraded around the neighborhood, and sometimes even into the ocean along the coast.
- ©John Lander
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