Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori City

August 2 to August 7, Aomori
The Aomori Nebuta is a large festival featuring spectacular lantern floats held August 2nd to 7th. It's occasionally disrupted by a local gang.


Posted by sugamama at 17:15Comments(0)TrackBack(0)祭り


Kanto Matsuri

August 3 to August 6, Akita
The Kanto Matsuri is a pole lantern festival in Akita City. Participants balance massive 12 meter, or 40 foot, tall lantern poles on their palms, foreheads, etc. These poles weight around 60 kilograms or 130 pounds. The lanterns are lit by candles. It's something to see.


Posted by sugamama at 10:51Comments(0)TrackBack(0)祭り


Sapporo Yosakoi Soran Festival

June 7 to June 11, Sapporo
The Sapporo Yosakoi Soran Matsuri is Japan's largest Yosakoi dance festival. It features 350 teams with around 35,000 dancers and attracts 1 million spectators.


Posted by sugamama at 11:46Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan


Gion Matsuri

July 1 to July 29, Kyoto
The Gion Matsuri is Kyoto's largest festival. It's a month long event that peaks with parades of large floats on July 17th and July 24th.



Posted by sugamama at 11:05Comments(0)TrackBack(0)祭り


Asakusa Samba Matsuri

End of August (unconfirmed), Tokyo
Asakusa is one of Tokyo's oldest and most conservative neighborhoods. It's also home to Tokyo's most vibrant and international festival — the Asakusa Samba Matsuri. The winning team of the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is invited to perform at the festival. Local samba teams also perform. Japan and Brazil have strong ties.


Posted by sugamama at 14:14Comments(0)TrackBack(0)祭り


Tokushima Awa Odori

August 12 to August 15, Tokushima
The Tokushima Awa Odori is a huge city-wide dance party in Tokushima City, Shikoku Island that attracts 1.3 million tourists each year. Participants wear colorful costumes, dance and play shamisens, gongs, taiko drums and flutes.
The festival is part of the region's Obon Festivities. It features synchronized traditional dances for men and women. There are different dances for day and night. The daytime dance (Nagashi) is restrained and elegant. The nighttime dance (Zomeki) is frenzied and energetic. Spectators are encouraged to join.
Tokushima City's airport is named after the festival — Tokushima Awa Odori Airport.


Posted by sugamama at 12:40Comments(0)TrackBack(0)祭り


Taira no Masakado

Taira no Masakado was a samurai who challenged the Imperial court in Kyoto. He ended up effectively taking over large parts of Japan before being defeated in battle in 940. His head was brought to Tokyo and his kami was enshrined at Kanda Shrine.

Taira no Masakado was popular with the people because he challenged the government. It is said that his revolt was preceded by earthquakes, swarms of butterflies, lunar eclipses and rainbows in Kyoto.
Taira no Masakado is considered an extremely powerful Kami. He must be constantly appeased or bad luck is certain. He was blamed for floods and fires in the Edo-era. The Shoguns themselves would visit Kanda Shrine to pray to his Kami.


Posted by sugamama at 15:10Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan


Sugawara no Michizane

Sugawara no Michizane was a prominent Japanese poet and politician who was exiled by his political rivals in the year 901. Shortly thereafter he died a lonely death.
Immediately after his death, Kyoto was struck with terrible lightening and floods. The sons of the Emperor died in unusual accidents. Plague and drought spread throughout Japan.
The government attributed this to Sugawara no Michizane's vengeful spirit. They posthumously restored his rank and status. They tried to destroy all evidence of his punishment. When the disasters continued, they granted his spirit the title of Kami of Scholarship in a special ceremony. They built Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto in his honor. Finally, the disasters ended.


Posted by sugamama at 13:38Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan



Tengu are a Japanese bird monster that often takes on human form. As humans they have big noses.
Tengu were long considered enemies of Buddhism who corrupted followers and monks. However, in modern times they are viewed as protectors of sacred forests and mountains.
Tengu aren't usually kami. They are more typically monsters or ghosts. However, some temples located in sacred forests and mountains are associated with tengu kami.


Posted by sugamama at 14:27Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan


Izanami and Izanagi

Izanagi and Izanami are the Shinto kami of creation. They created the earth with a spear decorated with jewels. Using the spear they stirred the sea between heaven and earth. Each time a drip of water fell from the spear an island was created.


Posted by sugamama at 14:14Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan



Shitenno (literally: Four Heavenly Kings) are four terrifying gods borrowed from Hinduism to protect Japanese Buddhist temples. Each god is associated with a direction, season, virtue and element. In many cases, Shitenno are depicted stomping on demons.


Posted by sugamama at 12:22Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan



Amaterasu is the goddess of the sun and the universe. She is sometimes considered the most important Shinto god. The Emperor is said to be a direct descendant of Amaterasu. This was much emphasized during the period of State Shinto from 1868-1945 when Shinto essentially functioned as a government organization. After WWII, Emperor Showa issued a radio statement in which announced that he was not a kami.


Posted by sugamama at 12:19Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan


Yebisu or Ebisu

Yebisu, often written Ebisu, was born without any bones and struggled to survive. At the age of two he was cast into the sea in a boat. He managed to survive and grow bones. He returned from sea many years later as a god.
Yebisu is the god of fishermen, luck and the guardian of the health of small children. He is a jolly spirit despite his hard life.
Yebisu is usually depicted as a chubby fellow wearing a hat carrying a fishing rod and fish. In modern times he is best known as the god on the front of Yebisu beer cans (Japan's biggest brand of premium beer).


Posted by sugamama at 13:06Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan



Benzaiten (or Benten) is the goddess of everything that flows: words, eloquence and music. In the popular imagination she is also associated with love. It's common for shrines dedicated to Benzaiten to be considered romantic spots amongst Japanese couples. She is one of Japan's 7 Lucky Gods.

Enoshima Shrine dedicated to Benzaiten is popular with couples for its pink ema with hearts.


Posted by sugamama at 13:42Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan



Kannon is the Japanese Buddhist goddess of mercy. She is a Bodhisattva — one who achieves enlightenment but postpones Buddhahood until everyone can be enlightened.
Many Japanese temples are dedicated to worship of Kannon. She was also featured in Japanese Christian imagery in the Edo-era.
In the 17th century, Christianity was banned in Japan. Japanese Christians continued worshiping in secret. These secret Christians made statues of Kannon that look very much like Roman Catholic art featuring the Madonna and Child including Christian symbols such as crosses. Some of these statues have survived and can be seen at Japanese temples today.

Credit: http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/kami  

Posted by sugamama at 15:31Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan



Inari is the goddess of everything important in Japan including rice, tea, fertility, sake and worldly success. She uses foxes as her earthly messengers. As a result, foxes get a lot of respect in Japan.
Many Japanese shrines have a small shrine off to the side dedicated to foxes. It's common to make offerings of aburaage to foxes at these shrines. It's believed that foxes are crazy about the stuff. Many shrines also have statues of foxes.

Credit: http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/kami

Posted by sugamama at 12:35Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan


Agyo & Ungyo

Agyo and Ungyo are fearsome guardians of Buddha who often stand at the entrance to Japanese temples.
Agyo is a symbol of overt violence. He bares his teeth and holds a weapon or clenches his fist. Ungyo is a symbol of strength. His mouth is always shut and he shows his empty hand as a gesture of confidence.

Credit: http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/kami  

Posted by sugamama at 12:49Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan


Raijin & Fujin

Raijin is the kami of lightning, thunder and storms typically depicted holding hammers and surrounded by drums. Fujin is the kami of wind who is depicted holding a bag of wind.
Raijin and Fujin often appear together. They are much feared deities due to the damage typhoons and storms have wreaked in Japan over the centuries.
Parents traditionally told their children to hide their bellybuttons during storms so that Raijin wouldn't eat their belly.
As fearsome deities, Raijin and Fujin often appear together at the gates of shrines as protection. All visitors to the sacred area of these shrines must pass by the gaze of these frightening deities.


Posted by sugamama at 11:46Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan


Jizo: Cute Japanese Gods

Source: http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/jizo

Jizo is a Bodhisattva (Japanese Buddhist god) who plays a special role as a protector of children and unborn children who died before their parents.
According to Japanese Buddhist stories, children who face judgement in the afterlife are doomed to stack rocks on the riverbed of souls in purgatory because they didn't have a chance to build up good karma on earth. Jizo helps these children to cross the river in the sleeves of his robe.
Jizo is also a protector of travelers amongst hundreds of other functions. This includes obscure stuff such as healing toothaches.
Jizo is popular because of his role as a protector of children. Jizo statues appear in great numbers at Japanese temples, cemeteries and shrines. They also appear in small shrines on street corners or in forest areas. It's unknown exactly how many Jizo statues there are in Japan but a conservative estimate would be one million. Japan has around 190,000 temples and shrines.
Jizo statues take on countless forms that include male, female, adult and child. Most often, Jizo appears as a small monk-like figure.
In many cases, Jizo are donated and cared for by those who have lost a child or unborn child. Jizo are given hats and bibs to keep them warm in the hopes that Jizo will do the same for children in the afterlife. It's also common to give Jizo toys, umbrellas and other items. People stack rocks near Jizo in the hopes that the ordeal of children in the afterlife will be reduced.
Due to their association with children, Jizo are statues are often cute. In many cases, old Jizo statues are so warn that they are nothing more than a mossy rock with a bib and a hat.


Posted by sugamama at 15:13Comments(0)TrackBack(0)Gods in Japan