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March in Japan

Top Things to do in Japan in March

The month of March is in between winter and spring in Japan. Different parts of the country enjoying both seasons. There are so many things to look forward to in the exciting month of March!

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms or Sakura are Japan’s national flower. The delicate flowers are synonymous to the country. Cherry blossoms come from ornamental cherry trees that can be found all over Japan. They bloom sometime in late March, and branches that were barren during the winter are suddenly filled with a glorious array of pink and white blossoms. Sakura are deeply ingrained in the history and culture of Japan and are full of symbolism, such as their state of impermanence (since blooms only last up to a week or two) which resonates with the samurai culture and the Japanese aesthetics of wabi-sabi. These gorgeous blossoms play a role in numerous Japanese artworks, in the ancient and the modern eras.

Japanese strawberriesStrawberries

Japanese strawberries are in season from January to April. They’re known for their juiciness, sweetness and almost perfect shape. A couple well known strawberries are Amaou and Tochiotome. During the season of strawberries in Japan, there are events such as strawberry dessert buffets and strawberry picking.

Festivals galore

Dai Himonjiyaki – a month-long fire festival held every March around the area of Mt. Aso in Kyushu. The most anticipated event of Dai Himonjiyaki takes place on the 2nd saturday of March on a mountain slope in Ojo-dake where giant Chinese characters (measuring about 350 meters) signifying “fire” are lit. Hifuri Shinji, a ceremony offered for a rich harvest, is the celebration of the union of the gods. Locals and visitors alike light pine torches and wave them in the air, creating rings of fire for a spectacular sight.

Yama-no-kami Matsuri (Mountain God Festival) is held at the end of March in the neighboring village, Nishihara. Part of the festival is the process called no-yak which involves setting fields around the area on fire to keep the grass in the pasture land in prime condition. You can try delicious delicacies such as the Aso beef barbeque in styles that vary by town and secret age-old family recipes. You can also visit Hana-Asobi (Aso Agri Square) near Aso Station, home to Japan’s only Tofu Museum.

Hinamatsuri festivalHinamatsuri (雛祭り) is a special celebration held each year on the 3rd of March in Japan. Platforms with red carpet are laden with traditional Japanese dolls that are displayed in all their glory. The ornamental dolls are called hina-ningyō and they represent the Emperor and Empress of Japan and all their attendants and musicians of the Heian period, all dressed in traditional court attire.

Omizutori (お水取り) – an annual Japanese sacred water-drawing Buddhist festival that takes place in Nara. Omizutori is the final rite of a two-week long observance of the Shuni-e ceremony (Second-Month Service of the lunisolar calendar).  The purpose of the festival is to cleanse the people of their sins and to usher in the new year. During the evening ceremony called Otaimatsu, monks wave burning torches and draw large fiery circles in the air. Local belief is that whoever witnesses the ceremony and is showered with sparks is protected from evil, harmful things.



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