This post is mainly for those who want to know more about Natsu Matsuri (夏祭り; Summer Festival).
Image Source: http://www.meetup.com/totemojapan/events/200083792/
Natsu Matsuri (夏祭り; or Summer Festival) is one of the big highlights in Japanese culture. It is a time for families and friends gather to enjoy a good time despite the seasonal heat. If you have no idea how to enjoy a festival or have never been to one, this is one you don’t want to miss. The experience in Singapore definitely is different from Japan, which I will explain shortly. Within Japan itself, different prefectures organize the festival differently. For simplicity, I will just talk about the common things you will find in Summer Festival in Japan and what makes Summer Festival so fun.
1. Yukata (浴衣）
The yukata is a very aesthetic piece of wear that everyone attending the festival looks forward to. Why? Firstly, it is very comfortable and relaxing to just wear the yukata. I’m not a lady so I wouldn’t know if it is the same for them. But as a guy, I find it very cooling to wear it and I don’t feel like taking it off. Sounds gross, but it really is that comfortable. Yukata is also something you wear after going to the onsens, in Japan. Onsen (温泉) means hot spring. The difference between a kimono (着物; which means “something you wear” or clothes) and a yukata is that kimono are generally more traditional, more expensive, thicker, and more formal in dressing. During summer, people prefer to wear this because it is cheaper, more casual, and comfortable to wear.
Secondly, aesthetics. Especially for women, choosing a yukata is very important. Yukata come in many different colors and designs. The idea is to look elegant and graceful while having fun. Since yukata is also much cheaper, women love the privilege of having match their yukata with accessories like kanzashi (簪), which are basically hair ornaments, and obi (帯), a kind of belt they tie in a ribbon style, and geta (下駄), clogs. Men also wear obi and geta, but not kanzashi.
If you want to get a yukata, it is much better to get it from Japan itself. It is much cheaper there. You can buy very cheap yukata as low as 2,500 yen ($25; S$32.12 based on currency rate as of 13 July 2016), for both men and women. In Singapore, a yukata for guys can cost as low as S$60. This is the price for the cheapest ones. For women’s yukata, it can start as low as S$200. I no kid with you people. I went to check out the prices. For cheaper options, in Singapore, you can try buying second-hand from other people on Carousell. Sometimes you can find brand new ones from people on Carousell at very low price, as low as S$18!!! But you may not get the design you want. You can try shopping online other websites that ship yukata from Japan such as this one: http://www.kimono-yukata-market.com/ (Kimono Yukata Market)
2. Food and Beverages
Yoyo-tsuri (Balloon Fishing) is a game that requires you to fish out a yoyo balloon using a hook. The hook is connected using paper string. They are called yoyo balloons because they are water balloons with a rubber string. At the end of the rubber string is a loop. You are supposed to hook it up using the metal hook with the paper string. The idea is to fish up as many as you can without breaking the string.
4. Bon Odori