If you find yourself in Japan at all today, or on April 8 in any future years, you might want to make a point of checking out the country’s Hana-Matsuri celebration. With events throughout the country, it’s a mix of religious holiday, spring festival, and more. Here are four things you need to know about it.
It’s a celebration of Buddha’s birthday…that only Japan celebrates on this date
The festival is centered on the believed date of the birth of Siddhartha Gautama (the Indian prince who would become the Buddha) over 2,500 years ago, which is also known as Kanbutsue. But other countries and regions with large Buddhist population, like India, Nepal, Taiwan, and more, celebrate the Buddha’s birthday in May. It’s believed that due to Japan’s switch to the Gregorian calendar in the 19th century, the country began celebrating the holiday earlier than everyone else. Because it’s meant to mark the birthday of their religion’s founder, many Buddhist temples are the sites for Hana-Matsuri celebrations and they traditionally feature small house made of flowers with a miniature Buddha statue placed inside that is sprinkled with a tea-like drink called ama-cha.
It’s also a celebration of spring
While the holiday is primarily focused around Buddhism, it also occurs during the time of the year when cherry blossoms are blooming throughout Japan. So many celebrants incorporate the freshly blooming flowers into Hana-Matsuri events, including offering them to the tiny Buddha and carrying the flowers throughout the events.
And it’s a commemoration of traditional Japanese culture
Along with ceremonies and celebrations at Buddhist temples, the Japanese also mark Hana-Matsuri with parades and public gatherings, often featuring plenty of exhibitions of traditional Japanese culture. So expect lots of costumes, performances, and more that reflect the country’s rich history.
It’s kid cuteness overload
A lot of Hana-Matsuri celebrations are kid-focused and feature children dressed in plenty of historical and traditional Japanese costumes, especially at the parades. And if you’ve never seen a little kid dressed in a kimono, prepare yourself – because it’s pretty adorable.
Have you been to a Japan during Hana-Matsuri? Think we missed highlighting an important fact about the holiday? Let us know in the comments section below!