Sumo fans! The September tournament at Kokugikan in Tokyo will run from September 14th through 28th, and the November tournament at Kyushu's Fukuoka Convention Center will run from November 9th through 23rd, 2014. The November tournament will be the final Grand Tournament of 2014.
Six Grand Tournaments are held each year: (3 in Tokyo (January, May and September), 1 each in Osaka (March), Nagoya (July) and Fukuoka (November). Watching these amazingly nimble and powerful sumo wrestlers perform Japan's national sport will definitely be one of the highlights of your trip to Japan! Don't miss it!
Starting November 2014 and extending through most of January 2015, Kabuki lovers will have a special reason to rejoice - Kabuki extravaganza performances are coming to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. (For a quick glance at performances, dates and venues, all info will be provided together at the end of this article.)
At the end of the year, the spectacular "Kaomise" Kabuki comes to the famous Kabuki theatres Kabukiza Theatre in Tokyo (Nov. 1 - 25, 2014) and Minamiza Theatre in Kyoto (Nov. 30 - Dec. 26, 2014). The full name for these performances is Kichirei Kaomise Oo Kabuki, which can be roughly translated as the Annual All-Star Grand Kabuki. The new year will be rung in by performances of the New Year Star Kabuki in Tokyo at the Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre (Jan. 2 - 25, 2015) and the New Year Celebration Grand Kabuki in Osaka at the Shochikuza Theatre (Jan. 2 - 26, 2015).
There is a special reason why the Kaomise spectacular is shown in November in Tokyo and not any other month. "Kaomise," literally "face-showing," is a term from the Edo period (1603 - 1868) referring to a theatre's ceremony which celebrates the opening of a new season of Kabuki and the debut of new actors. The annual contract for the actors ran from November to October, and although this annual contract system disappeared at the end of the Edo period, the "Kaomise" tradition of introducing the new actors in November continues today.
While Kyoto has its own Kabuki tradition and indeed, Kyoto was where Kabuki originated (albeit in quite a different form than modern day Kabuki) the Tokyo theatre is the only theatre that erects a yagura, or wooden turret, specially built on top of the main entrance for the Kaomise performance. This yagura, adorned with a traditional design dating back to the Edo period, is now the symbol of the All-Star Grand Kabuki.
About one month after the All-Star Grand Kabuki, the New Year Star Kabuki and the New Year Celebration Grand Kabuki, will be on stages in various theatres around Japan.
Nov. 1 - 25, 2014, Kichirei Kaomise Oo Kabuki, Kabukiza Theatre, Tokyo
Nov. 30 - Dec. 26, 2014, Kichirei Kaomise Kougyo, Shijo Minamiza Theatre, Kyoto
Jan. 2 - 25, 2015, New Year Star Kabuki, Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre, Tokyo
Jan. 2 - 26, 2015, New Year Celebration Grand Kabuki, Shochikuza Theatre, Osaka
For more information about Kabuki and ticket information, visit here.
Hatsugama, literally "first kettle" is the first tea ceremony of the new year, and is always held in January. For students of tea, what makes Hatsugama so special is that this is the only time a teacher will prepare tea and a meal for his or her students. The entire tea ritual, usually taught only in sections for classes as it is quite lengthy and complex, is presented during Hatsugama in its entirety, and can be quite a moving experience. The host and guests wear formal kimonos suitable for this celebration, and if you are lucky enough to be invited to participate, you will certainly enjoy watching everyone dressed in their best traditional finery.
There are several hotels and other locations that offer tea ceremonis for foreign tourists throughout Japan, including the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, Imperial Hotel Tokyo and Hotel Okura Tokyo in Tokyo, and Nishijin Tondaya and Joukeian in Kyoto. Some hotels provide Hatsugama for guests during the month of January.
For 7 glorious days, from Feb. 5th - Feb. 11th, 2015, Hokkaido hosts the Sapporo Snow Festival, the northernmost island's most well-known winter event, and one of Japan's largest winter festivals. 2015 marks the 66th year that the city of Sapporo will dazzle and delight the over two million expected visitors with snow and ice statues and sculptures.
First held in 1950 by high school students, the festival consisted of a few snow sculptures, but has grown exponentially into an internationally known winter spectacular with visitors coming from far and wide, not only to enjoy the sights, but also to participate in sculpture contests with other teams from around the world.
There are three main venues: Odori Park is the main site, with snow sculptures both large and small, often internationally themed; Susukino, which exhibits around 100 ice sculptures; Tsu Dome, which boasts snow slides, snow rafting, and plenty of family fun activities.
All sites are open from morning until late. At night, the sculptures are illuminated, creating a beautiful sparkling snow and ice fantasyland. You can enjoy regional foods from all over Hokkaido, and there are staged performances and concerts, etc., often performed directly on the sculptures!
The Sapporo Snow Festival also has special package tours available from our partners.
For more information, please visit here.
For more information about the Snow Festival itself, please visit here.
Jan 23 - Jan 25, 2015
The New York Times Travel Show
The Jacob K. Javits Center, New York City
Feb 21 - 22, 2015
Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show
Long Beach Convention Center
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