Niinamesei, or the Great Festival of Thanksgiving, is a national holiday in Japan and originally a harvest festival. 

Niinamesai is the most important Shinto rite. 

It is performed in

order to make an offering of the first fruits of a year's grain harvest, thanking the deities for their blessing and also sharing the food produced by these first grains with the deities.

Shichigosan is also known as the 7-5-3 festival because on this day parents take boys of three and five years old and girls of three and seven to give thanks to the gods for a healthy life so far and pray for a safe and successful future. 

Shinto is an ancient Japanese religion and Shintoists generally follow the


Obon or Ullambana is also known as Ancestor Day.

The festival is aimed at celebrating the reunion of departed ancestors with their living families. 

Extended families often


Shubun-sai, or Equinox Day, is a national holiday in Japan with close links to Buddhism.

The equinox is a time to celebrate spring, nature and new life. 

It is also a day for visiting the graves of loved ones and remembering ancestors.

This festival celebrates the daughters in the family, and the day is used to pray for the growth and happiness of the young girls. 

The families with girls display special dolls and dedicate peach blossoms to them. 

These dolls are either handed down from generation to generation, or


Risshun or Lìchūn is the spring festival that marks the division between winter and spring.

The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar periods.


This marks the day before the beginning of spring in Japan.  

There is a special mamemaki  or bean-throwing ritual to


Seijin Shiki or Adult's Day is the day on which the Japanese who have reached legal adulthood (the age of 20 in Japan) in the previous year attend a shrine to give thanks.

Since Japan adopted the solar calendar in 1873, the New Year celebrations start on January 1.  

However, in rural Japan, villagers continue to follow the lunar calendar and Oshogatsu is the Lunar New Year.  On New Year's Eve, shortly before midnight, Buddhist temples ring bells 108 times to remember Japan's hardships, and to send out the old year and usher in the new.  At dawn Oshogatsu starts with a Hatsumode (the first visit of the year to a shrine or a temple) to pray for a good and happy year. 


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