S. В. Markaryan, E. V. Molodyakova. Festivals in Japan. Festivals constitute an integral part of national life. They reflect, to a certain extent, the historical socio-economic and cultural traditions of the society. There is hardly any other country in the world which has so many festivals as Japan. Leafing through the Japanese calendar one can see that every day is marked with a festival or two.
Festivals are usually conducted in conformity with a fixed tradition. There are all kinds of shows, marches, music, singing, dancing, competitions and games. Festival trappings are rich and diverse.
The analysis of the most popular festivals vis-a-vis their origin and meaning suggests several major groups.
Primarily, these are the New Year festivities which just as in other countries of Southeast Asia are universally aknowledged to be festival number one. They are lasting for the whole of winter season. Many other festivals observed at the beginning of the year are linked with the New Year festival symbolizing a new life and work cycle.
A prominent place among Japanese festivals belongs to agricultural calendar festivities known for their ancient and rich rituals. They are primarily related to rice cultivation cycle. They may be celebrated by doing real work on fields or just by imitating it.
The unique feature of Oriental aesthetics - association between human life and natural cycle - gave rise to a number of festivals connected with contemplation of nature.
Many Japanese festivals are devoted to the children. Relevant festive occasions are designated for each age and sex, which is explained by specific attitude of adults to kids as their successors. In addition, children participate in the majority of festivals celebrated by adults.
Festivals and national history constitute a single whole. Most of the festivals are related to specific historic events, national or local. Many festivals often reflect a historical event which is acted by people on the streets. Sometimes there is a reverse relationship.
Festivals are transmitted to the next generation, acquire new features and adapt to new conditions.
The Japanese authorities support and develop national festivals because of their social importance.
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