May 8, 2014

Mochi Making

Mochi are rice cakes traditionally made by pounding a variety of rice known as mochigome with a large wooden mallet. The result is a paste that's formed into shapes such as blocks. Mochi are an ingredient in a wide variety of simple foods and are extremely popular. Much like bread, it's rare to meet someone who doesn't like mochi.
May 7, 2017

Floating Lanterns

The Japanese tradition of floating lanterns in rivers, known as Toro Nagashi is a ceremony that represents the journey of souls to the afterlife. It's used to celebrate the Japanese Obon holiday, a time of year when it's believed that the spirits of loved ones return to the world. Toro Nagashi ceremonies are also used to commemorate tragic events such as the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima.
May 6, 2017

Doll Floating

Hina Nagashi, or Doll Floating, is an increasingly rare ceremony in Japan that floats traditional Japanese dolls out to sea or down a river. It was historically believed that bad luck could be transfered from children into the dolls and cast out to sea. Hina Nagashi is still performed on Girl's Day in Japan at several shrines including Awashima Shrine in Wakayama.
March 12, 2017

Rooster Rake

Tori-no-ichi, literally "Rooster Rake", is the Japanese business custom of buying a bamboo rake decorated with lucky symbols at the end of the year. Markets for Tori-no-ichi pop up all over Japan on the days of the rooster in November. It's common for business people to negotiate a price for their rake. When a deal is stuck it's sealed with a traditional hand clapping ritual.
March 11, 2017

Summer Yukata

Yukata are inexpensive traditional cotton robes that are widely worn to summer matsuri in Japan. They are worn by both men and women and help to give events a festive feel.
March 10, 2017

Koinobori

Koinobori are carp-shaped wind socks that are used to celebrate Children's Day in Japan. They are related to an ancient Chinese story about a carp who swims up river against the current to become a dragon. The vigorous movement of Koinobori in the wind is thought to represent a healthy childhood. Millions of Koinobori are put up all over Japan around the time of Golden Week beginning in late April. They are traditionally placed by rivers and in front of the homes of families with children.