Japanese Calendar Holidays & Festivals

Flower Festival  (hana matsuri)  National Celebration


T.T., Apr.91 -- A CAKE WITH 2,554 CANDLES! - Flower Festival (hanamatsuri)

On April 8th, temples across Japan will celebrate Buddha's birthday. The Flower Festival (Hana Matsuri) features a baby Buddha placed amidst a plethora of seasonal blooms. It is a reverent occasion for the devout where sweet tea can be purchased from the temple to be poured over the image, representing Buddha's legendary baptism with five colored perfumes. You can go to virtually any temple (not shrines, those are Shinto ... and red colored) in the Tokyo area to see the festivities and decorations, but if you take a camera on that day, it's wise to be discrete.

There will be two parades related to the holiday, on Sunday, April 7th. Starting at 1p.m., the lkegami Honmonji Temple will have a procession of colorfully dressed children centered around a float containing a small Buddha seated on a white elephant with flowers all around. To get there take JR to south of Shinagawa, transfer at Kamata for the Tokyu Ikegami Line, heading west 2 stops to lkegami. The temple is about 4 blocks northeast of the station.

At 2p.m., the Gokokuji Temple will have a parade of children adorned in beautiful traditional costumes and. kimonos. At both events the children will undoubtedly be surrounded by their proud parents, relatives and neighbors, and more cameras and video equipment than a professional baseball player usually sees in a year. But if you are able to attend and get a good view you will be impressed with the detail and attention lavished on these children's costumes. Gokokuji Temple is located east of Ikebukuro. Take the Yurakucho Line to Gokokuji, and walk directly north about 2 blocks. (Paul Abramson)


Hana Matsuri (the Flower Festival) is an annual celebration of Buddha's birthday which coincides with spring's first blooms, in early April. This year Buddha turns 2,555 years old but looks as young as ever when adorned with a spread of colorful blossoms and given doses of sweet tea which the devout can purchase and pour over his baby-like image.

The official date of the celebration is April 8 but in Tokyo two temples will be holding special festivities on Sunday, April 5. At 1:00 pm the Ikegami Honmonji Temple will have a procession featuring a large float bearing an infant Buddha riding a white elephant. It will be surrounded by dozens of colorfully dressed children, who depict "flower spirits." ( ... and the children will consequently be surrounded by dozens of camera totting parents and relatives .... ) To get to the temple take JR to south of Shinagawa, transferring at Kamata for the Tokyu Ikegami Line. Go 2 stops West, to Ikegami. The temple is very close to the station, about 4 blocks to the northeast.

Starting at 2:00 pm the Gokokuji Temple will have a parade of children dressed in a variety of period costumes, from ancient samurai to modern kimono. This children's parade will be a family occasion as well, sure to inspire the best in photo taking opportunities for parents and visitors. Gokokuji Temple is near Gokokuji Station, on the Yurakucho Subway Line, just 2 stops east of Ikebukuro. From Gokokuji Station, walk 2 blocks north. As April 8 is the official day of Buddha's birthday, you can go to any temple (not to a shrine, those are for Shinto) and join the devout in offering sweet tea, which is purchased and poured over the image representing the baby Buddha's baptism with five colored perfumes. (Paul Abramson)

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