We went to visit the Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine near Kyoto, which is famous for protection from evil and cherry blossom viewing. We were surprised to find out that a large martial art demonstration was taking place, with a lot of people from different swordsmanship schools.
Taken place on January 4th, the Shin Aisatsu (新挨拶) or New Year’s Greeting of the Kamishichiken Hanamachi (Geisha District) is the first “event” of the year around Kyoto’s Kagai (another word for the so-called “flower town” or geisha world of Kyoto).
Many weddings in Japan imply a ceremony at a Shinto shrine. The whole affair is a rather formal and traditional one and includes a religious ceremony inside the actual building of the shrine, very often a little procession with the priest and attendants, and of course a photo session with the whole family.
Obon (お盆) is the Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. This Buddhist custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to their family places and visit and clean their ancestors’ graves. During this time, the ancestor’s spirits are supposed to revisit the household altars.
The Tanabata legend tells of two lovers, Hikoboshi (Altair star) and Orihime (Vega star), who are separated by the “river of the heavens” (Milky Way) and are only allowed to meet once a year, on the night of July 7.
The event called Tanabata (Star) Festival relates to a romantic folk tale telling the story of the couple stars, the Lyre and Altair of Aquila that can only meet once a year on the night of July 7th (this day is called “Tanabata”). On this day, people of all ages will write their wishes on a strip of paper called “Tanzaku” and hang them on bamboo trees.