Seasonal changes are widely celebrated in Japanese culture, and these changes can be felt in the nature awaiting you at temples and shrines, parks and city streets, and also in the numerous festivals and other events held throughout the year. Which season will color your memories of Japan?
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
With a history spanning over a thousand years, Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is a famous and popular destination for Buddhists and tourists alike. Its reputation for granting wishes and bestowing good luck first grew in the Edo Period, after the kabuki actor Ichikawa Danjuro prayed at the temple for a son who could become his heir, and the temple’s main deity of Ofudo-sama granted his wish in 1688. The characters in the name Shinshoji mean ‘new’ and ‘victory,’ and the temple is considered one of Japan’s most sacred places. Adjacent to the temple lies Naritasan Park, featuring a beautiful walking path, several ponds and a waterfall, and the impressive Great Peace Pagoda.
The town of Sawara retains traces of the old atmosphere of Edo Era Japan
The town of Sawara allures visitors with its laid-back Edo Era atmosphere, retained from its heyday as an important commerce hub for shipping goods to the capital by water. Then used for trade, the Ono River today provides the perfect setting for a relaxing ride on a Japanese-style sightseeing boat. Another of Sawara’s top attractions is the Suigo Sawara Dashi Kaikan, which houses huge floats, called dashi*, used in the Sawara Grand Festival. Designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property by the central government, the festival is held annually in July and October.
*Dashi are floats that are pulled behind marchers in Japanese festivals, and may take a variety of forms, from huge figures of folklore to hoko spears.