Since the old days, people in Japan have survived hot and humid summer by devising creative ways to cool off from the heat. Among those, fireworks and summer festivals are still the most popular events today. This season, visit these fun summer events with family and friends and make great memories of the summer in Japan. While Dr. Advise is out of the country for business, Tom, an American newspaper reporter living in Tokyo, makes his suggestions of how to enjoy the best of summer in Tokyo.
Meilin Hi, Kim-san and Tom-san. I just received a postcard from Dr. Advice in Indonesia.
Kim May I see it? It says "shochu omimai moushiagemasu"......is this a common phrase for Japanese summer greetings?
Tom Yes. The phrase is asking how you are doing in the heat of summer. By exchanging greeting cards in the middle of the hot season, people show that they care about each other and wish each other good health. I really admire this custom. Anyway, I am glad to hear that Dr. Advice is doing well.
Meilin Summer in Japan is really hot, but I always look forward to fireworks and summer festivals. What are the major fireworks events in Tokyo?
Tom For this August, Edogawa Ward Fireworks Exhibition and Itabashi Fireworks Festival are scheduled on the 1st (Saturday), Jingu-Gaien Fireworks Festival is on the 6th (Thursday), and Tokyo Bay Grand Fireworks Festival is on the 8th (Saturday). You can find more information about fireworks festivals in Tokyo on the Internet. Watch for posters and ads on trains and at stations as well.
Kim I heard that the latest fireworks have nontraditional colors such as light blue and lemon yellow and form a variety of shapes like hearts and popular characters.
Tom That's right. Fireworks with rare colors and unique presentations are becoming more popular these days. My personal favorite is the traditional "yanagi" (willow) though. Some local summer festivals and bon dance events often feature a display of some tens of fireworks. At these smaller events, however, you can be closer to the launch site and experience the real sound and impact of the fireworks.
Kim That's a good point.
Meilin I always enjoy local summer festivals, even without fireworks. I love to join the circle of bon dancing and try to dance by following what other people are doing. I pick up some festival foods such as yakisoba (fried noodles) or kakigori (shaved ice) from stalls and enjoy watching children trying to catch goldfish and yoyo balloons.
Kim I see. I think my kids will enjoy the festivals too. But how can I find out if there are any summer festivals in our neighborhood?
Tom You should look for posters of the festival on the community bulletin boards or local shopping streets.
Meilin Some major dance festivals are scheduled at the end of August, including Asakusa Samba Carnival is on the 29th (Saturday). Both Harajuku Omotesando Super Yosakoi Festival and Tokyo Koenji Awaodori Festival are held on the 29th (Saturday) and the 30th (Sunday). They are all exciting and fun to watch.
Tom I didn't know that you like dances so much, Meilin. Have you been to the festival in Ginza where you can watch Noh dance?
Meilin You mean Noh, one of the Japanese traditional performing arts?
Tom Right. Nohgaku Komparu Festival is held on August 7 every year on the Komparu Dori Street in the Ginza 8-chome district. It is basically a live street performance of Noh. It is free to watch too! You may pick up tickets for seats at 4 PM or after on the day of the event, but you can also watch the performance standing. The event has been continued for 25 years to preserve Edo culture.
Kim Sounds like there are lots of fun things to do in Tokyo during the summer. By the way, have you ever tried on yukata before, Meilin? My wife wants to try it.
Meilin Well, I bought a set last year and wore it once with the help of my friend, but that was it. I just don't know how to put it on by myself.
Tom You don't want to waste your yukata, Meilin. Because of its recent popularity, there are a number of yukata dressing classes available at different locations. You should look for one and learn how to dress in yukata.
Kim I am thinking about visiting some museums during the summer break. I have not had a chance to go to any of them because of my work.
Tom You may like Edo-Tokyo Museum, where you can learn the history of Tokyo. Large-scale reproductions of old bridges and buildings are quite impressive. Your kids will enjoy the exhibition too.
Meilin I believe Dr. Advice will be very happy if we all have a happy summer in Tokyo.
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