January 1st: The most important day of the year. Most of the city is heading
to temples to ring in the new year with the temple bells. Most of the temples
and shrines provide warm "amazake" (sweet sake) to visitors.
February 3rd or 4th: On either the 3rd or 4th of February, Setsubun, an event
in which many households participate in a bean-throwing ceremony. A wooden measuring
cup-like container, called 'masu' is filled with roasted soya-beans. Whilst
shouting 'Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!' ('Out with the goblins and in with Fortune!'),
these beans are then thrown around the rooms of a household.
The 3rd of every March is Hina Matsuri, also known as Doll Festival or Girls'
Festival, where families pray for the happinness and health of their daughters.
The cherry trees near the castle are amongst the most popular spots. The flowers
near the castle are illuminated during the Cherry Blossom Festival (April 1
to 15). The delicate little flowers don't last long, and if there is the slightest
breeze they rain down on the revellers like confetti.
May is usually good weather. The consecutive public holidays of "Golden Week"
makes travel difficult, but if you are in Okazaki this is a good time to head
to the castle and enjoy the "Gomangoku Fuji Matsuri" (a Wisteria Festival).
The First Sunday in June: Yuki Saiden O-taue Matsuri (Rice Planting Festival)
commemorates a gift of rice to the Emperor Taisho (the current Emperor's grandfather).
In this festival, the participants plant rice by hand while singing and danceing.
Good photo opportunities.
July 7th - Tanabata (Star festival). An old Chinese festival, celebrating the
day two stars - the Herdsman (Altair) and the Weaver (Vega) - meet in night
sky. On the 7th, children write a wishes onto colored paper and tie it to a
leaf of bamboo.
13th to 15th. This is called "O-Bon" where people remember their ancestors.
A visit to graves is a common activity. The tradition is that everyone returns
to their hometown to tend the graves and family altars, making it difficult
Many people buy crickets in stores and keep them in small tanks in their homes,
the chirping of the cricket ringing in the autumn.
Late October: Mikawa no Kiku Matsuri (Mikawa Chrysanthemum Festival) at Okazaki
Castle and other places. Lots of beautiful chrysanthemums, and more excuses
for enjoying a drink with friends.
In early November there is a festival called Aki no Shi-min Matsuri (Fall Citizens
Festival) that is a little bit manufactured, but still fun. The center of activity
is the area adjacent to the castle next to the Sugo River. There are displays
of local products, hundreds of "yatai" stalls, and portable "Mikoshi" shrines.
The big event of December is actually midnight on the 31st - see January at
the top of the page.