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Culture Japan

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile

Japan : Discover the country's culture


- The Temple of The Golden Pavilion by Mishima Yukio.
- The Box Man by Abę Kobo.

- Wasurenagusa by Aki Shimazaki.

- Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki.
- Cherry Tree Blossom Season by Ruriko Pilgrim.
- Stupor and Tremors by Amélie Nothomb.

- Japanese Home Cooking by Shunsuke Fukushima.

- Japan Country Living: Spirit Tradition by Amy Sylvester Katoh and Shin Kimura.
- The Art and Culture of Japan by Nelly Delay.
- Un été au Japon


Japan. Lonely Planet.


- Requiem, (1957) and November Steps (1967) by Takemitsu Toru.

Japan : Discover the country's history

Historical dates

Around the year 300, founding of the first State, the "Yamato kingdom".
4th century, introduction of Buddhism from China.
1542, arrival of merchants and missionaries from Europe who were eliminated half a century later.
1584, unification of the country.
1603-1868, new political and social set-up that led to economic stagnation. Birth of a new business class and decline in the power of the feudal lords.
1853-1856, opening of trade with the West following agreements with the Americans.
1868-1912, the Meiji era, installation of Emperor Mutsushito, in Tokyo, and final unification of the country with an aggressive foreign policy.
1894-1895, war and victory against China that lost Formosa.
1904-1905, war and victory against Russia and Japan obtained lease on Manchuria and freedom to act in Korea that was annexed in 1910.
1923, earthquake in Tokyo, 140,000 dead and the town was destroyed.
1931-1941, rise to power of the extreme-right wing, occupation of Manchuria and another war against China.
1941-1945, Japan reached tripartite alliance with Germany and Italy, and attacked Pearl Harbor. Surrender in August 1945, following the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.
1947, installation of a democratic regime and maintenance of the Empire.
1951, peace treaty with the USA.
1978, peace treaty with China.
1989, death of Emperor Hirohito, succeeded by his son, Akihito.
1995, earthquake in Kobe, more than 5,000 victims.
1997-1998, economic crisis in Southeast Asia, affecting Japan with a massive recession and several bankrupcies.
April 2001: Junichiro Koizumi became Prime Minister.

Japan : Stay up to date on the country's holidays and events


1st January: New Year.
6th January: New Year parade.
Mid-January: First sumo tournament in Tokyo.
Second Monday of January: Feast of adulthood, celebrated by boys and girls who have attained adulthood (20 years).

Early February: Snow festival at Sapporo.
3rd or 4th February:
Beans throwing feast in the main temples of the country.
Bonden festival at Yokote.
11th February: Founding of the nation.

3rd March: Hina Matsuri. Feast of the dolls celebrated throughout the country. For this occasion, houses are decorated with miniature dolls.
13rd March: Kasuga Matsuri of the Kasuga sanctuary at Nara. Ancient traditional dances.
Mid-March: Sumo tournament at Osaka.
20th or 21st March: Vernal Equinox (Shunbun-no hi).

1st to 30th April: Cherry trees dance at Kyoto.
8th April: Flower festival. Commemoration of the birth of Buddha.
14th and 15th April: Takayama Matsuri of the Hie Sanctuary at Takayama. Parade of chariots.
16th and 17th April: Yayoi Matsuri of the Futarasan Sanctuary. Parade of chariots.
29th April: Feast of Nature.


3rd to 5th May: Kite festival at Hama-matsu.
3rd May: Constitution Day.
5th May: Children's Day.
15th May: Hollyhock Festival at Kyoto.
Sumo tournament at Tokyo.
Kanda Matsuri of the Kanda Myojin Sanctuary at Tokyo.
17th to 18th May: Grand festival of the Toshogu Sanctuary at Nikko.
3rd Sunday of May: Mifune Matsuri on the Oi river, at Kyoto. Parade of ancient ships.

2nd Saturday of June: Feast of the horse at Morioka.
7th July: Tanabata (Feast of the Stars) all over Japan.

13th to 15th July: O Bon, festival of the dead. During this period, lamps float on lakes, rivers and the sea, signifying the return of the deceased from beyond.
Mid-July: Sumo tournament.
14th July: Fire festival.
16th and 17th July: Gion Matsuri, the most important festival in Kyoto.
3rd Monday of July: Tribute to the Sea.
Last Saturday of July: Fireworks on the Sumida river at Tokyo.
24th to 25th July: Tenjin Matsuri of the Temmangu Sanctuary at Osaka.

6th August: Peace festival, Hiroshima.
9th August: Remembrance Day, Nagazaki.
12th to 15th August: Ethnic dance festival, Tokushima.

Mid-September: Sumo tournament, Tokyo.
23rd September 2005: Autumnal Equinox (Shubun no hi).

7th to 9th October: Kunchi festival of the Suwa Sanctuary, Nagasaki.
Mid-October: Festival of the Nagoya town.
22 October: Fire festival of the Yuki Sanctuary, Kyoto.

2nd to 4th November: Okunchi of the Karatsu Sanctuary, Saga. Parade of coloured chariots.
3rd November: National Day of Culture.
Mid-November: Feast of the Rake at the Otori Sanctuary.
Sumo Tournament at Fukuoka.
23rd November: Kinrou-kansha-no-hi (Work Recognition Day).

17th to 19th December: Feast of rackets at Tokyo.
23rd December: Birthday of the Emperor.
31st December: Namahage of the Oga peninsula.