festival

LIGHT UP NIPPON 2014 pays tribute to the Great East Japan Earthquake with a booming spectacle

LIGHT UP NIPPON 2014 pays tribute to the Great East Japan Earthquake with a booming spectacle

For those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, three and a half years still might not be enough time separating the event from the present day. Each slight tremble in the earth, any loud alarm can be a painful reminder of all that was lost that afternoon. While the saying goes “time heals all wounds”, a bit of light-hearted fun always helps the process along. On August 11, 2014, on the 3 ½ year mark of the disastrous event, the LIGHT UP NIPPON event will be celebrating in remembrance, as it has for the past four years.

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Tropfest: The world’s largest short-film festival comes to Japan for one day only

Tropfest: The world’s largest short-film festival comes to Japan for one day only

Have you heard of Tropfest? For thousands of Australians, the name conjures up images of picnics, green grass and long, warm days that turn into night, bringing out stars like Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush.

It’s the biggest short-film festival in the world, born in a small café in Sydney in 1993 and growing every year, travelling to places like New York, Abu Dhabi and Cape York. This year the outdoor film festival is making its debut in Japan, bringing with it Aussie food stalls and a great selection of film shorts.

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Konsei Matsuri: The giant penis riding festival in Iwate

Konsei Matsuri: The giant penis riding festival in Iwate

Wow, Japan, is that a giant wooden phallus in your hot springs, or are you just happy to see m–oh. I see. Well, uh, I’ll just be on my way then. Um…maybe one quick photo…

As you are surely already aware, Japan has quite a few unusual, phallic festivals allegedly intended to be fertility rites for couples hoping for children. They’re also great attractions for curious tourists or anyone who wants to try frosted penis-bananas. Iwate Prefecture, perhaps not wanting to be left out, has a phallus festival of its own. Its standout feature? The phallus riding event! And, great news, ladies, they’re taking applications!

(Before clicking below, use your best judgement about whether or not this is something you should be reading at work.)

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Everyone’s favourite giant penises will be popping out again at this year’s festival of phalluses

Everyone’s favourite giant penises will be popping out again at this year’s festival of phalluses

It’s that time of year again! Spring is in the air, the cherry blossoms are blooming, and everyone’s feeling a little bit randy. What better way to celebrate life than with the Kanamara Matsuri, better known as the Penis Festival, to be held on April 6th from 11am to 6pm.

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Aichi fertility festival surprises everyone with gigantic membership

Aichi fertility festival surprises everyone with gigantic membership

Every year on 15 March in Komaki City, Aichi the Honen Matsuri (Harvest Festival) is held. Unlike other harvest festivals this one is to celebrate all forms bounty from crops to cash to family.

Also unlike other harvest festivals, this one has a 2.5m wooden phallus that gets paraded through the city during the afternoon. It’s called “Ooowasegata” (lit. big guy stem figure) and this year it drew a crowd of 190,000 spectators according to a Tagata Shrine announcement.

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Halfway to adulthood: New Japanese festival for 10-year-olds gets parents talking

Halfway to adulthood: New Japanese festival for 10-year-olds gets parents talking

Japanese children enjoy many rite-of-passage celebration and age-specific holidays. This week it was Girls’ Day (hina matsuri) on March 3rd; next up in May will be Children’s Day (kodomo no hi). Another children’s holiday comes along in November: shichi-go-san, for children who have turned 3, 5 or 7 that year.

Once Japanese young adults turn 20, they have a special holiday to celebrate the beginning of adulthood, too. Coming of Age Day (seijin no hi) celebrates those who have reached the Japanese age of majority by turning 20 the previous year. And now growing in popularity is the “halfway to adulthood” festival, held when a child is 10 years old.

So what is this new(ish) celebration, where did it come from, and what does its burgeoning popularity tell us about Japan today?

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Why stare at fireworks way out in the sky? In Yanshui they’ll shoot them right in your face

Why stare at fireworks way out in the sky? In Yanshui they’ll shoot them right in your face

Have you ever watched the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan and thought to yourself: “Man, that looks like one hell of a party”? If your answer is yes, then you might want to check out the annual Yanshui Fireworks Festival in Taiwan every February.

The event has gained notoriety for not only shooting its fireworks into the sky, but also directly at the faces of people watching them. Although such interactivity makes this the next level in fireworks displays, this festival actually dates back nearly two centuries.

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Cosplayers pose, perform, and get a suntan at Singapore’s cosplay festival 【Photos】

Cosplayers pose, perform, and get a suntan at Singapore’s cosplay festival 【Photos】

Over the weekend, I stopped by the End of Year Cosplay Festival (EOY) held at Marina Barrage in Singapore. Although I love anime, I’ve never been to an anime convention or cosplay festival for one simple reason: I hate crowds. But this time around I had a friend, who coincidentally is a cosplay photographer, to show me the ropes of treading through a people-packed cosfest, so I braved the crowds to bring you guys (and girls) some fabulous cosplay photos!

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We visit the World Santa Congress in Kumamoto Prefecture and still feel exactly like jaded adults

We visit the World Santa Congress in Kumamoto Prefecture and still feel exactly like jaded adults

Located in a remote section of a remote prefecture of Japan, Kumamoto’s Amakusa City faces the same problem a lot of rural towns do: its population is dwindling as children born there generally have to leave to pursue an education or career, and few move back.

As part of an effort to boost the remaining residents’ spirits, as well as hopefully garner a little tourism publicity, Amakusa recently held a World Santa Congress.

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Japan’s Self-Defense Forces as you’ve never seen them before

Japan’s Self-Defense Forces as you’ve never seen them before

They’re usually the epitome of seriousness and order, but it seems even military men can find Japan’s summer heat a little overwhelming…

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New fad in Japan: Posting your phone number, bank account, and other personal information on Twitter

New fad in Japan: Posting your phone number, bank account, and other personal information on Twitter

Even as more and more people complain about how unsocial social network services have become, some Japanese Twitter users have put their faith in humanity and opened up a new line of communication with their fellow Tweeters.

How? By publicly posting their phone numbers, some going as far as posting their bank account information and address.

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We Get Wet and Wild at Thailand’s Water Festival

We Get Wet and Wild at Thailand’s Water Festival

Over the years, Thailand has gone by many names. Until 1939 it was Siam, and the country’s friendly citizens have earned it the nickname “The Land of Smiles.”

For a few days each year though, Thailand is also “The Land of the City-Wide Splash Fights.” Read More

We Visit the 2013 Kanamara Festival and Bring You a Slideshow as Long as… You Know

We Visit the 2013 Kanamara Festival and Bring You a Slideshow as Long as… You Know

On the first Sunday of April in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture, the Kanayama Shrine holds a festival known casually as the “Penis Festival” on account of its huge array of multi-colored members.

Known as one of Japan’s oddest festivals, the Kanamara Festival draws huge throbbing crowds from around the world. We sent a reporter to this year’s festival for a glans-on experience. The following is her report, along with more photos and videos than you could shake a wang at.

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Visitors to Jilin Ice Festival Shoot Arrows at Live Roosters

Visitors to Jilin Ice Festival Shoot Arrows at Live Roosters

Coming just days after we brought you images of visitors at a zoo in China tormenting lions by throwing snowballs at them, we receive a collection of photos taken earlier this week showing tourists at China’s Jilin festival shooting arrows at live roosters tied to a wall of ice.

The brutal practice is allegedly part of the yearly festival where visitors are invited to pick up a bow and take a few shots at the squirming birds. Although some of the tourists reportedly refused to take part, there were others who, sadly, weren’t afraid to spill a little blood.

Some readers may find the following images disturbing.

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Our Reporter Learns a Thing or Two about Buying Good Luck Charms in Japan…

Our Reporter Learns a Thing or Two about Buying Good Luck Charms in Japan…

Tori no Ichi is an open-air market festival held in Japan on the day of the Rooster in November, as determined by the Chinese calendar. At the festivals, markets are set up in front of or near to Shinto shrines, and charms- most often decorated bamboo rakes called kumade- that are said to bring the owner good fortune in the coming year are sold to visitors.

Kumade literally means “bear hand”, since, when you think about them, rakes are shaped rather like a large hand with claws. Rakes were chosen generations ago as a sign of good luck since they can be used to draw things– in this case wealth and good fortune– towards us, and the practice of buying ornamental rakes has been common in Japan since the Edo period (1600-1867).

Wanting to check out the lively festival and ask for continued success for the website next year, our reporter Mr. Sato headed over to the famous Hanazono shrine in Shinjuku to purchase a kumade on behalf of RocketNews24.

However, having never purchased one of the charms before, he discovered that he had more than a couple of things to learn…

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China Puts Beggars in Cages During Religious Festival to Keep Them From Ruining the Mood

China Puts Beggars in Cages During Religious Festival to Keep Them From Ruining the Mood

When Chinese officials were deciding how to handle the over-100,000 visitors expected to show up for the Xishan Wanshou Palace Temple Fair, an annual religious festival held in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, there was one problem: what to do with the beggars?

The scale of the event in recent years has made it a magnet for the impoverished and homeless seeking alms and many visitors have complained the constant pleading for pocket change ruins the festive atmosphere.

Unable to just throw the beggars off the street (this is a religious festival, mind you), organizers decided to take the humanitarian route and erect a 165 foot-long iron cage to keep them in during the duration of the festival.

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The Beautiful Paper Lanterns of Akita’s Tanabata Edoro Festival

The Beautiful Paper Lanterns of Akita’s Tanabata Edoro Festival

For the nights of August 5-7, the streets of Yuzawa, Akita prefecture, are illuminated with the soft glow of ukiyo-e-esque paintings on paper lanterns for the Tanabata Edoro (Picture Lantern) Festival, a 300-year-old festival that takes place near JR Yuzawa station during Tanabata every year.

Akita is known for having some of the most beautiful women in Japan and the hand-painted paper lanterns do the prefecture justice, portraying illustrations of beautiful Japanese women, often in seductive poses.

Take a look at some of the lanterns from previous years below:

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Spain’s La Tomatina Festival is Coming to Tokyo This Weekend

Spain’s La Tomatina Festival is Coming to Tokyo This Weekend

Ever wondered what it would be like to be covered from head to toe in tomatoes?

Ever dreamed of smashing a tomato in someone’s face?

Ever wanted to see the streets run red…with tomato juice?

If so, you may think you have to head all the way over to Spain to partake in Valencia’s world famous La Tomatina festival.  However, those of you who live in Japan are in luck.  You only have to go as far as Tokyo.  That’s right, on September 9th, at the Tamagawa river in Tokyo, adventurers and pasta sauce enthusiasts alike can participate in a large-scale tomato fight just like the one in Spain.

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Breathtaking Nagaoka Fireworks Will Make You Want to Spend a Summer in Japan

Breathtaking Nagaoka Fireworks Will Make You Want to Spend a Summer in Japan

Summer in Japan is all about matsuri, or festivals. Young people dressed in yukata walking through streets lined with food stalls and game booths, the rowdy, drunken group of local men carrying a giant mikoshi shrine through the crowd while yelling “Washoi! Washoi!” and, of course, the fireworks.

The Japanese take fireworks very seriously, which is why Japan is home to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays in the world. To see what we mean, the fireworks show at this year’s Nagaoka Matsuri in Niigata prefecture has been generating buzz on the net thanks to some amazing video footage posted to YouTube. Check it out below!

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Thousands of Paper Lanterns Illuminate the Night Sky in Poland to Celebrate Summer Solstice

Thousands of Paper Lanterns Illuminate the Night Sky in Poland to Celebrate Summer Solstice

If you were to measure your life in sights that left you spellbound, whether they be of natural beauty or formed by the hand of man, to what extent could you say you have truly ‘lived’?

Okay, existential conundrums aside, a beautiful view can be a pretty life-affirming experience. On June 21, the sky above the Polish city of Ponzan was transformed into such a view when 50,000 paper were released into the night sky to celebrate the summer solstice, known as St John’s Night.

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