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Ōmisoka —or ōtsugomori —is a Japanese traditional celebration on the last day of the year. It is customary for people to clean their homes, eat soba or udon noodles, and bathe at night to rid themselves of uncleanliness. Bells are struck 108 times to bring in the new year and lift people from suffering.

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Shichi-Go-San literally means 7-5-3 in Japanese. The festival, held every November 15, is a traditional rite of passage for Japanese boys turning 3 and 5 and girls turning 3 and 7 years old. It celebrates the growth and happiness of young children. Read more.

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Obon or Bon is a traditional Japanese Buddhist festival to honor the spirits of ancestors. It is believed that their spirits return to visit during this time, so families visit the graves and make food offerings at altars and temples. Chochin (paper lanterns) are hung to guide the spirits.

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The Kanto Festival is an annual event held every year in Akita City, Japan. Eight-meter tall bamboo poles decorated with hanging lanterns are balanced by performers on their foreheads or lower backs. The lanterns are decorated to resemble bags of rice. This is a time for people to pray for a good harvest.

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Kodomo no Hi, or Children’s Day, is a Japanese national holiday which takes place every May 5 and is the final celebration in Golden Week. The day is for celebrating all children and their happiness.

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Hina Matsuri is a Japanese celebration also called Doll’s Day, Doll Festival, Festival of Dolls, or Girls’ Festival. People pray for the health and happiness of girls. Click here for more information and related resources.

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soybeans

Setsubun, the Bean-Throwing Festival, takes place before the first day of spring in Japan. Roasted soybeans called fuku mame (fortune beans) are thrown for good luck.

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