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Lesson Transcript

Talking Japanese Culture, Season 1, Lesson 15 –
Top 5 Festivals in Japan
Hello, and welcome to JapanesePod101.com.
I’m Eric.
In this lesson we will talk about the ​"Top 5 festivals in Japan".
The first topic (on the list) is about one of the most
popular and colorful summer festivals held in
Aomori city, called the (J: Aomori Nebuta Matsuri).
When this festival begins in August, tens of
thousands of people parade around the city with
giant paper lanterns in the shape of various
legendary characters and gods.
Ahead of each lantern, dancers in traditional
costumes jump wildly to Japanese drum and
flute music, making the parade very
exciting and upbeat.
The next topic (on the list) is about the Sapporo Snow
Festival in Hokkaido (J: Sapporo Yuki Matsuri).
This is one of the biggest winter festivals in Japan and is held in February. During this time, the city of
Sapporo becomes the stage for the big snow
statue contest.
You will see a number of huge and beautiful snow
sculptures such as famous people, landmarks,
and scenes from popular movies.
With a project this big, Japan’s Self-Defense Force
and citizen volunteers spend a month to shape
some 32,000 tons of snow into an icy art.
The next topic (on the list) is about Japan’s most
historical festival in Kyoto, called Gion Festival
(J: Gion Matsuri).
The festival runs the entire month of July, but the
biggest event is the ground procession of floats
called (J: Yamahoko Junkō).
These floats are known as “moving museums” for
their elaborate decoration with tapestries and
ornaments that are all built without using nails.
The highlight of the parade is the scene that happens at narrow corners when the floats make a 90-degree turn. This elaborate technique is called
(J: Tsuji Mawashi).
The next topic (on the list) is about a traditional
summer dance festival in Tokushima, called
Awa Dance Festival (J: Awa Odori).
This festival takes place during the Buddhist festival
period in summer. This period, during which the
spirits of the dead are believed to return to this
world, is called (J: Obon).
As part of the Obon festival, dancers wear
traditional costumes and chant aloud as they
parade through the streets.
Normally the male dancers move around in a very
dynamic way, while the female dancers parade in an elegant style, taking tiptoe steps.
The last topic (on the list) is about a great bonfire
called (J: Gozan no Okuribi) or (Daimonji no Okuribi).
This bonfire, held in Kyoto on August 16th every
year, is a festival like no other in the world.
To mark the end of Obon, people in Kyoto light giant
bonfires on five mountains surrounding the city
to send the souls of their ancestors back to
where they belong.
The biggest bonfire is the Chinese letter “big”,
which is set alight at 8pm on Mt. Daimonji. After
that, other letters are set alight every 5 minutes.
This bonfire showcases the classic culture of Kyoto
and announces the end of the summer.
That’s all we have for this lesson.
Japanese festivals are all very unique and culturally significant.
Have you seen any of those festivals? How did you like them?
Leave us a comment and let us know!
Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time. Until then, bye!


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