Festivals and Events for January 2014 in Japan

Festivals and Events for January 2014 in Japan

1-3 January 2014

Event: New Year’s (Shogatsu)
Location: All over Japan

New Year’s or oshogatsu in Japanese is one of the most important holidays on the calendar. It is a time to look back to the past and follow the traditional customs of the festive season. Most people will return home to spend the time together with their families, kind of like Christmas in the West. It is a popular tradition to visit a temple or shrine at midnight on December 31st. The most important ritual is Hatsumode, which is the first visit to the local shrine to pray for health, happiness and prosperity. Read more about New Year’s in Japan on Japan Australia.

12-26 January 2014

Event: Sumo Hatsu Basho (Opening Tournament)
Location: Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo

The first sumo tournament of the New Year starts in Tokyo and is always keenly anticipated. Japanese Ozeki, Kisenosato coming off a strong performance last year is one to watch in his bid to become the first Japanese Yokozuna (Grand Champion) in many years after the domination of the Mongolian wrestlers.

13 January 2014

Event: Seijin no Hi (Coming of Age Day)
National Holiday

A special ceremony held on the second Monday of January for boys and girls who will reach the age of 20. Twenty is considered the beginning of adulthood in Japan, and is the age when you can legally vote, drink and smoke. Girls in kimono and boys in suits or hakama will visit large shrines to celebrate, with special ceremonies also held at local and prefectural offices.

15 January 2014

Event: Santera Mairi Festival
Location: Hida Furukawa
Time: Held during the evening
Price of Admission: FREE

The Santera Mairi Festival (three temple festival) is held in the beautiful small town of Hida Furukawa, which is just north of Hida Takayama. During the festival, 1000 candles line the Setogawa River creating a stunning landscape in combination with the snow. The candles called Warosoku (Japanese Candles) are a specialty of Hida Furukawa, and are said to be superior to other regular candles. They are said to hold their flame even in strong winds and give off very little smoke.

18,25,26 January 2014

Event: Shirakawa-go Winter Illumination
Location: Shirakawa-go Village, Gifu Prefecture
Time: 17:30 – 19:30
Price of Admission: FREE

Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its gassho zukkuri farmhouses. This place has been famous for years due to its thatched roof farmhouses, but the beauty is raised to an even higher level when the houses are lit up in the snow. Spotlights illuminate the snow covered thatched roofs which makes this place look like a magical winter wonderland. It is truly spectacular. This year it will run from the end of January to February.

25 January 2014

Event: Wakakusa Yamayaki Festival
Location: Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

Originating in the 18th century, the burning of Mount Wakakusa is one of Japan’s most spectacular festivals. It is held on the fourth Saturday of January, with the mountain being set alight by fire, while simultaneously fireworks light up the sky. It is believed to have started over a boundary dispute between Kofuku-ji Temple and Todai-ji Temple in Nara. The festival starts with a torch being lit with sacred fire at Kasuga Taisha Shrine. The fire is carried by Buddhist monks to a small shrine at the foot of the mountain. Then, the mountain is set alight by members of Kofuku-ji, Todai-ji and Kasuga Taisha.

January 2014 Calendar

John Asano (100 Posts)

John Asano is a blogger, traveler and freelance writer living in Gifu, Japan. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, he has lived in Japan now for over 12 years. John loves nothing better than picking up his camera and exploring all the amazing sights and attractions that Japan has to offer. He writes about the must see sights and attractions in Japan at Japan Travel Advice, as well as about Japanese culture and modern life on his blog Japan Australia. You can read more of his work at http://japan-australia.blogspot.com/