Don! Don! Doki Doki Summer Matsuri!
“Don! Don! Do don-Don!”
It’s summertime and in Japan, that means it’s the season for natsu-matsuri (夏祭り). Summer festivals entice the senses with banging drums (“Don don” describes the sound of a steady beat in Japanese!), colorful paper lanterns, delicious smells from street foods cooking, and the yummy flavors of summer treats.
July’s Summer Matsuri (or festival)-themed Doki Doki crate will bring the festivities home to you! Read on to find out more about what makes festivals so fun in Japan!
花火Hanabi – Fireworks
Japan has a long history with fireworks, with the first fireworks festival taking place in 1733. In the summer season, there are firework shows nearly every day! Wow! Fireworks in Japan are considered an art form, almost like flower arranging (Hanabi literally means “fire flower!), so you can expect to see impressive displays of carefully planned color coordination & design!
Did you know? In the 1800’s, two of Japan’s biggest fireworks manufacturers had an intense rivalry! Each year they would try to out-do the other through a battle of fireworks with fans yelling the names of their favorite company. You can still find spectators yelling out “Kagiya!” or “Tamaya!” during fireworks shows!
神輿 Mikoshi – Shrines
Many festivals have roots in the Shinto culture of Japan so it’s not uncommon for them to take place at, or near, a temple. Mikoshi are portable shrines that are carried during parades as they are believed to carry a deity, or god. Some mikoshi are small so they only require a small team of people to carry them but some are large and require more than 30 people! Even though the shrines can be quite heavy, you will see teams raising them up and down, chanting, and carrying them with great gusto. It’s believed that the gods enjoy the enthusiasm!
太鼓 Taiko – Japanese drums
No matsuri is complete without the beating of taiko drums! These large drums create a deep beating sound and require a lot of energy to play! Taiko performances are quite amazing not just for the sound but for the movements as well. Performances can be accompanied by flutes and other instruments, and it’s not uncommon to see entire troupes of taiko. You may recognize these drums from anime, commercials, and even video games! Have you seen the drumming video game, “Taiko: Drum Master” before?
浴衣 Yukata – Summer kimono
While it’s perfectly acceptable to go to a matsuri with shorts and a t-shirt, you may find yourself out of place since many Japanese people wear yukata to festivals! These summer kimonos are made with light weight silk or cotton and are worn with geta, or sandals. Women put their hair up in elaborate hairstyles (it’s actually a requirement to have an up-do with any type of kimono) and women often coordinate hair accessories, nail art, and bags with their yukata print. Men tend to wear more muted tones with only a simple fan or bag as an accessory.
Did you know? Guests are encouraged to wear their yukata to Tokyo Disneyland! The “Yukata Disney Campaign” offers special discounts and souvenirs for guests and takes place all summer. Kawaii, ne?
Food and Games
We bet that anyone who visits a matsuri in Japan will leave with a full stomach and a few souvenirs. Vendors line the streets with tasty snacks and challenging games. Popular treats are yakisoba, takoyaki, taiyaki, and shaved ice. After munching down your snacks, you can pop over to a game booth to win some prizes. Games are similar to the ones in the States, like ring tosses and chance games, but one specific game holds a dear spot in many Japanese people’s memories. The goldfish game requires the player to catch a fish from a small pool. How do you catch it? That’s the tricky part! You are given a scoop but instead of a net, there’s a piece of paper! Can you scoop a fish into your bowl before the paper gets soggy and breaks? It’s harder than you think!
July’s Doki Doki Crate encompasses all the fun of a summer festival with the addition of some of your favorite characters