In Japan, festivals are synonymous with summer. Festivals can be huge events or local gatherings and can be spiritual or secular. However, no matter the size of or reason for the festival, each seems to come with a package deal of food, music and fireworks. Thank goodness, because after interning with the N.C. State Fair, I don’t think I could last too long without a little fair-inspired action.
I encountered my first Japanese festival by chance. To be honest, a friend and I were wondering the streets of Fukuyama in search of a worthy dinner restaurant. Well, we may not have found a restaurant, but we certainly found more food than we could possibly eat. The atmosphere wasn’t too bad either…
This year, the Fukuyama summer festival began on Saturday and ended on Monday. Later, I found out that the events held on Saturday and Sunday are referred to as the Summer Night Fureai Festival. These events are held in “downtown” Fukuyama. On Monday night, the festival concludes with fireworks held over the Ashida River.
The festival also includes the Niagari-odori dance contest. Basically, this seems to consist of local citizens processioning down the street, dancing and having a jolly good time.
Although I may have incidentally discovered my first Japanese festival, my second encounter was planned. The Innoshima Pirate Festival celebrates the Murakami suigun. The closest English translation of suigun is a mixture of pirate, navy seal and Johnny Depp. Just kidding about the last ingredient.
The festival is divided into three events–the Island Festival, the Fire Festival and the Sea Festival–the events all take place on the lovely island of Innoshima. As I’m sure you can guess from the second picture below, I attended the Fire Festival.
So my first two festival experiences were wonderful. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate summer than having traditional festivals every other weekend (hint to my favorite Deep Fried Crew).