This may just be a personal opinion but spring is probably the best time to be in Japan. As the cold weather leaves us, we can store away our coats until next year and finally soak up that sweet vitamin D. The spirit really livens, as people start to get out of their winter shells like flowers blossoming, especially with cherry blossom season underway. Japan really doesn’t shy away when it comes to painting the country pink; pink flowers; pink foods; and pink cheeks.
But it’s not just Hanami when it comes to spring activities in Japan. So in light of this, here are a few things to look out for if you’re trying to sway away from the busy Hanami spots or after the petals have fallen.
Similar to bank holidays in the UK, there constantly seems to be a matsuri every month in Japan. Ofcourse, unlike national holidays these are regional and become more festive in the matter – so maybe it’s more like carnivals in Europe.
Any who, there’s a few matsuris to be on the look out during spring as there’s one right in the city of Tokyo as well as most promiscuous matsuri in Japan occurring this season.
Kanamara Matsuri, April 7
The Kanamara festival, aka the penis festival. I’m sure by now many of you have heard or seen pictures of this bizarre festival being shared on the world wide web. Taking place at the Kanayama Shrine in Kanagawa, this is the festival with penises literally everywhere. Although Kanayama Shrine is associated with sex, it’s not all about the conspicuousness of sex per say. This traditional festival is actually to pray for fertility, healthy childbirth, and safe sex which originated from prostitutes during the Edo period. What’s kind of great about this festival, apart from the obvious, is that it also raises funds for HIV research and people dress up in drag. A fun and truly unique experience. But be prepared as it’s now a popular event for tourists and it’s advised you arrive early if you don’t want to be pushed around like a pin-ball.
The Kanda Matsuri, May 9 – 15
One of the three great Shinto festivals of Tokyo and a celebration continuing since the Edo period, this festival takes place at the Kanda Myojin Shrine and surrounding central districts. Although this is a 6-day event, the main events take place during the weekend. If you’re in the city, it’s a great opportunity to experience the festive culture of Japan.
It’s Japan, of course there’s food related activities! In Japan, seasonality places a big role in the food and food trends. This is why for cherry blossom season, everything is sakura-flavored and KFC is so popular over Christmas. It may seem a bit too-much at times, but if you look out for seasonal native produce that’s where you’ll find the true culinary experience.
From root vegetables, mountain herbs, and a different selection of fish, experience the season with your palate and ask your local izakaya’s if they’ve got any of these ingredients.
Metropolitan’s Spring Food Guide: https://metropolisjapan.com/spring-food-guide/
Since we’re on the topic of things to do in spring, why not scavage for your own food?
A couple of seasonal picks in Japan include strawberries and clams. And tis the season to get out of the city and pick them yourself.
Strawberry picking is a cheap activity, usually starting from 1000yen and there are lots of places to take a city break and do.
If you’re not a fan of the outdoors or have hay-fever, why not indulge in a strawberry buffet instead.
More info: https://jw-webmagazine.com/5-best-strawberry-picking-farms-near-tokyo-in-2018s-spring-5b92c5faf494
And if fruits are your thing, then head for the beach to do some clam digging. All you need is some boots, gloves, a rake, and maybe a bucket or bag to take all those goodies home with you. There are places where you’ll have to pay but you can also find some public beaches to find your dinner as well.
Some more info: https://bestlivingjapan.com/clam-digging/
Happy Springing Everyone!
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