Tour East Japan
Tour East in association with JTB Global Marketing & Travel Inc., a specialized inbound travel company in the JTB Group, provides the ultimate solution for all reasons to travel to and from Japan. Headquartered in Tokyo, with a multi-lingual team and a further 3 offices spread throughout the country means a truly one-stop destination management service solution.
- American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)
- United States Tour Operation Associations (USTOA)
- Hokkaido Office
- Western Japan Office
- Kyushu Office
Welcome to Japan
JAN - New Year's Day
New Year observances are the most elaborate of Japan’s annual events. Before the New Year, homes are cleaned, debts are paid off, and osechi (food in lacquered trays for the New Year) is prepared or bought. Osechi foods are traditional foods which are chosen for their lucky colors, shapes, or lucky-sounding names in hopes of obtaining good luck in various areas of life during the new year. Homes are decorated and the holidays are celebrated by family gatherings, visits to temples or shrines, and formal calls on relatives and friends. The first day of the year (ganjitsu) is usually spent with members of the family.
MAR - Hina festival
This is the day when families pray for the happiness and prosperity of their girls and to help ensure that they grow up healthy and beautiful. The celebration takes place both inside the home and at the seashore. Both parts are meant to ward off evil spirits from girls. Young girls put on their best kimonos and visit their friends’ homes. Tiered platforms for hina ningyō (hina dolls; a set of dolls representing the emperor, empress, attendants, and musicians in ancient court dress) are set up in the home, and the family celebrates with a special meal of hishimochi (diamond-shaped rice cakes) and shirozake (rice malt with sake).
APR - Hanami (Sakura watching)
Various flower festivals are held at Shinto shrines during the month of April. Excursions and picnics for enjoying flowers, particularly cherry blossoms are also common, as well as many drinking parties often to be seen in and around auspicious parks and buildings. In some areas the peach blossom, the traditional flower of Japan (the Cherry is a symbol from the Edo period symbolizing the Samurai culture), is viewed as well through this flowers earlier than the Cherry.
JUL - Gion Festival
Takes place annually in Kyoto and is one of the most famous festivals in Japan. It goes for the entire month of July and is crowned by a parade, the Yamaboko Junkō on July 17 and July 24. It takes its name from Kyoto’s Gion district.
JUL - Tanabata
It originated from a Chinese folk legend concerning two stars-the Weaver Star (Vega) and the Cowherd Star (Altair)-who were said to be lovers who could meet only once a year on the 7th night of the 7th month provided it didn’t rain and flood the Milky Way. It was named Tanabata after a weaving maiden from a Japanese legend, named Orihime who was believed to make clothes for the gods. People often write wishes and romantic aspirations on long, narrow strips of coloured paper and hang them on bamboo branches along with other small ornaments.
AUG - Bon Festival
A Buddhist observance honoring the spirits of ancestors. Usually, a “spirit altar” is set up in front of the Butsudan (Buddhist altar) to welcome the ancestors’ souls. A priest may be asked to come and read a sutra (tanagyō). Among the traditional preparations for the ancestors’ return is the cleaning of grave sites. The welcoming fire built on the 13th and the send-off fire built on the 15th and 16th are intended to guide the ancestor’s spirits back to their permanent dwelling place.
OCT - Momijigari
The Japanese tradition of going to visit scenic areas where leaves have turned red in the Autumn. The tradition is said to have originated in the Heian era as a cultured pursuit.
NOV - 7 5 3 Festival
Three- and seven-year-old girls and three- and five-year-old boys are taken to the local shrine to pray for their safe and healthy future. This festival started because of the belief that children of certain ages were especially prone to bad luck and hence in need of divine protection. Children are usually dressed in traditional clothing for the occasion and after visiting the shrine many people buy chitose-ame (“thousand-year candy”) sold at the shrine.
DEC - Omisoka (Last day of the year)
People do the general house cleaning to welcome coming year and not to keep having impure influences. Many people visit Buddhist temples to hear the temple bells rung 108 times at midnight. This is to announce the passing of the old year and the coming of the new. The reason they are rung 108 times is that of the Buddhist belief that human beings are plagued by 108 earthly desires or passions (bonnō). With each ring, one desire is dispelled. It is also a custom to eat toshikoshi-soba in the hope that one’s family fortunes will extend like the long noodles.
Japan Fast Facts
Japanese. English and Chinese speaking staff available in major hotels and shopping district.
Major International Airports
Haneda, Narita, Nagoya, Kwansai, Chitose, and Fukuoka.
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