Festivals in the Land of the Rising Sun

by Akhil Kalepu

Jun 27, 2016

Gion Matsuri, Kyoto, Japan © S35ktmo | Dreamstime

Trends / Unique Itineraries & Tours

Japan has a fascinating culture best experienced through the country’s many festivals. Here are six you should check out while visiting the land of the rising sun.


Obon Festival, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan © MIKI Yoshihito | Flickr

Obon Festival, Sapporo © MIKI Yoshihito | Flickr



Otherwise known as Bon, this Japanese tradition originates as a Buddhist-Confucian custom that became a tradition of family reunion. For three days, people are supposed to visit their ancestral homes along with the spirits of their relatives.


Suwa Onbashira, Nagano, Japan © T hino | Flickr

Suwa Onbashira, Nagano © T hino | Flickr


Suwa Onbashira

Onbashira translates to “the honored pillars,” referring to the 1,200-year-old tradition of riding enormous tree trunks down the mountains of Nagano. The festival happens every six years and has a reputation of being the most dangerous cultural event in Japan.


Kanamara Matsuri, Kawasaki, Japan © Takanori | Flickr

Kanamara Matsuri, Kawasaki © Takanori | Flickr


Kanamara Matsuri

The “Festival of the Steel Phallus” is thrown by Kawasaki’s local penis-venerating shrine. In modern times, the event is used to raise STD awareness and money for HIV research.


Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan © Chun Kit Ho | Dreamstime 38918476

Sapporo Snow Festival © Chun Kit Ho | Dreamstime


Sapporo Snow Festival

In 1950, six high-school students began the tradition of building snow statues in Odori Park. Japanese military from the nearby Makomanai base joined in five years later, giving way to the Sapporo Snow Festival.


Close-Up Cherry Blossom Macro © Joshkho | Dreamstime 12617032

© Joshkho | Dreamstime



Cherry blossom festivals can be found all over the world, with many of America’s trees gifted from Japan. The annual bloom is closely forecasted by the Japanese Meteorological Agency.


The Parade of Hanagasa, Gion Matsuri, Kyoto, Japan © Dtkql2009 | Dreamstime

The Parade of Hanagasa, Gion Matsuri, Kyoto © Dtkql2009 | Dreamstime


Gion Matsuri

Gion Matsuri is one of the most important festivals in Japan, taking its name from Kyoto’s Gion District. It originates from a purification ritual done to appease the gods for protection against floods and earthquakes.



Reviews / Entertainment
Mar 24, 2019

Camino Pampa: Gaucho Day Tour/Horseback Ride

If you’ve ever wanted to pretend you’re a cowboy for the day, here’s your chance. Step into the boots of a gaucho on Camino Pampa’s estancia experience. The day starts at 8 a.m. with a pickup at your hotel in Buenos Aires to travel about an hour and a half into the countryside via private vehicle. Your guide will meet you in San Antonio de Areco, a historic gaucho town, where you will learn about the art of silver and metal-working and walk the sleepy colonial streets.

Work and Play in Italy

Once business concludes, a world of wonder awaits in many of Italy’s incredible cities.

Products / Travel
Mar 24, 2019


Everyone who travels is intimately familiar with the sensation of pressure changes in airplane cabins as aircraft take off and land. Many travelers have their own methods to deal with the pain. Remedies range from swallowing to chewing gum to bringing along specialized goods to combat pressure changes.

Under $100 / Middle East
Mar 23, 2019

Under $100: Kish Island

Kish Island, 12 miles off the coast of Iran, is a former private resort that boasts a wealth of luxurious accommodations, excellent shopping and awe-inspiring beaches. Spending a day here probably won’t feel like enough, but any more than that could break the bank.

Work and Play in Italy

ONCE THE FINAL MEETING WRAPS and the last contract is signed and sealed with a handshake, what’s next? Do you catch a flight back home or do you take advantage of the destination? If your next business trip is to Italy, we suggest adding a few more days to explore the country’s most amazing hot spots. Make time for more than a mouthwater- ing Italian meal in these three cities.

Tips / Travel
Mar 23, 2019

Should You Pack Your Own Pillow?

To pack or not to pack ... your own pillow? Arguments for and against this oft-ignored question are as follows.