Exploring Japanese Festivals and Anime Series

Updated 4 years ago Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

by Jake Rollins

Much like American festivals, Japanese festivals are usually public celebrations where the participants find that they have a main event to look forward to, and in the meantime will have plenty of food, entertainment and carnival games to keep them occupied. Some festivals will have competitions, while other festivals will have amazing displays of fireworks or music. While some festivals are religious in nature, like the ones that are held close to the holidays of Obon and Setsubun, there are plenty that are simply held to celebrate secular events.

If you watch anime, you will see that festivals, or matsuri, as they called in Japan, are a great place for the characters to go and unwind. Given the celebratory air and the masses of people who are out to have a good time, a Japanese festival can provide a great backdrop for the story, and you'll find that there are plenty of characters who love them as well as plenty of characters that absolutely cannot stand them!

For instance, in the anime Gintama, the main characters Gintoki, Shinpachi and Kagura are all geared to have a great time until they learn that there is to be an assassination attempt on an important figure who is attending. While they try to make sure that this doesn't happen, fourteen year old Kagura still manages to find time to shoot a rifle for prizes, even if she “misunderstands” and starts shooting at the booth owner instead!

Similarly, Gintama also shows off a winter festival, where all of the inhabitants of Kabuki-cho decide that they will compete in a snow sculpture competition in order to win a money prize. Gintoki and his friends have very little hope of winning, and instead choose to sabotage other people's sculptures and then graft broken pieces onto their own. Tempers get hot and before you know it, there's plenty of obscene sculptures and plenty of snowballs filling the air.

You will also see that festivals play a large part in the show Ranma 1/2. In one story arc, Ranma in his girl body and his fiancé Akane Tendo both attend the festival in their casual yukata robes, only to realize that they have been set up by Ranma's rival Mousse. Everyone except the main characters are having a good time, as Mousse's tactics get dirty, and Ranma needs to dodge festival goers and games alike to beat Mousse at his own game.

Japanese festivals are delightful for tourists and locals alike, and if you have a love of American festivals, watch some anime to see how it's done in other parts of the world.

Jake is a huge anime and manga fan and collector. Join in on the fun and start watching anime on DVD and see how many reoccurring scenes like Japanese Festivals you can you can find in each series.
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