An April Shower of Events

In Japan, April is always an exciting month with spring flowers all in full bloom. The highly anticipated blossoming of sakura (cherry trees) makes our lives more colorful and never fails to bring a smile to our faces. April ushers in many festivals to cap off the first quarter of the year.

Here are some of the festivals happening in Tokyo for April:

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Sakura Festival and Peony Festival – Sakura, cherry blossoms, are in full bloom in April, usually. The blooms last for only one week, and then they start to fall from the trees. The flowers are considered the most beautiful when they are at their final stages.

Sakura trees all lit up. | Marufish

For many Japanese, cherry blossoms symbolize transience, nobility, and life. Some of the best locations to view the gorgeous trees are in Sumida River and Ueno Park. The peony flowers start to bloom usually around mid-April.

Bussho-e (the birthday of Buddha) – Buddhists celebrate the birthday of Buddha (Sakyamuni ) every 8th of April. Bussho-e is also known as the Flower Festival. Sensō-ji Temple is one of the best places to pay homage to Buddha and join in the celebration.

Shirasagi no Mai – This event is celebrated on the 14th of April.  Shirasagi no Mai is best represented by a ceremonial dance  depicted in a historic picture scroll found at Sensō-ji Temple. Participants dress in traditional Heian period costume representing white herons.

Yabusame – celebrated every 20th of April, Yabusame is a much anticipated spectacle in Sumida Park. It is  horseback archery in its finest. During the Edo period, it was celebrated to usher in the New Year.

Yabusame. | Yuki Shimazu

Naki Sumo (Zumou) –  this Baby Crying Festival is celebrated on 20th or 21st of April. It is a 400-year-old tradition where babies are encouraged to cry for good health and to ward off evil spirits. Amateur sumo wrestlers hold the babies high up in the air as they cry while sumo referees determine the winner: the baby who cries the loudest and the longest.

Other festivals to look forward to around Japan are:

  • Kamakura Festival, second Sunday to the third Sunday, in Kanagawa.
  • Takayama Festival, 14th and 15th of April, in Gifu.
  • Yayoi Festival 16th and 17th of April, in Tochigi.