Fireworks and matsuri in Japan – festive, but slightly melancholy signal of the end of summer

Posted on by Jin

Summer 2011 in Japan

The end of summer is filled with exciting events in Japan. Perhaps the pressure to do as many memorable things as possible before the school year begins makes us all more aware of the fireworks, the festivals, the romances, and activities.

The summer of 2011 is (was) another unforgettable one for Japan. In talking about this summer, it is impossible to leave out the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. If you lived in the affected areas, it was a summer of rebuilding. If you lived elsewhere, you were limiting your energy consumption in hopes of helping. Fears of radiation contamination caused food scares. Even traditional summer Shinto activities felt the aftereffects – priests had to decide whether they could ceremonially burn wood from within the nuclear power plants’ exclusion zones. But admidst this climate, Japanese everywhere learned to enjoy a more humble, quiet summer.

While we furiously wish to deny it, every summer must come to an end. As we enter the second half of August, more telltale signs of the upcoming season cannot help but enter our line of sight. And so perhaps the events that you rush to attend will now leave a slight bitter-sweet aftertaste.

This is Japan now in August 2011:

Kyoto Gozan no Okuribi

Sacrificial wood for the homa ritual inscribed with wishes of recovery

Kansai Electric hung a sign requesting that customers conserve energy

Empress and Emperor of Japan at the non-denominational WWII Memorial Ceremony

Families visit their relatives for the Obon festival in mid-August - seeing children waving goodbye to grandparents on the train platform is a familiar scene

Summer Koshien is an annual national pastime - The High School Baseball Championship held near Kyoto

Bon Odori, a type of traditional dance, this year was conducted in front of prefabricated, temporary housing due to the earthquake

Going to the aquarium is a popular summer activity to escape the heat, particularly on a date

Some festivals were unaffected, like the Awa odori in Tokushima

Japan remembers the two atom bombs that were dropped at the end of war in August

What country doesn't appreciate fireworks in the summer?

Source: SankeiPhoto

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