Summer is an exciting time, with summer festivals, fireworks, traditional customs, special sporting events and summer holidays. In Japan, the main traditional customs include ‘Chugen’ (the giving of a mid-year gift to relatives, or to a company boss or colleague), ‘Obon’ (a Buddhist event, and a time to remember one’s ancestors and honor their spirits), and ‘Suikawari’, a traditional game for children in which one child is blindfolded, and tries to cut or break a watermelon with a stick or pole.
Many Japanese people will travel at this time to be with their families, and the highways can be clogged with traffic before and after ‘Obon’, which generally occurs around the middle of August.
It is a very active season, and all across Japan, those who have holidays will travel here and there to participate in various activities to make their vacation enjoyable or memorable. Some will attempt to climb Fuji-san, a yearly pilgrimage for many Japanese people and foreign tourists. Others will go to Koushien stadium in Osaka and watch the annual high school baseball championship. Many participate in or line up to see the famous festivals that occur during this time, with almost every town and city having their own local event. Typically, at the end of each of these events is a great fireworks show.
Some of the more famous summer ‘Matsuri’ or festivals include the Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori, near the top of Honshu, the Akita-Kanto Matsuri, the Narita Gion Matsuri, the Sanno Matsuri in Tokyo, the Gujo Bon Odori festival in Gifu, the spectacular Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka, the Awa Odori festival in Tokushima, and the Hakata Gion Matsuri in Fukuoka on Kyushu, but these are just to name a few of the more well known festivals.