The flow of holidays

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After four years, I am converted to the flow of Japanese holidays and seasons. In my imagination, summer is indigo and white, with kingyo, morning glories, glass chimes, cool somen noodles, and mosquito coils in pig-shaped pottery jars. (Check out Hide Itoh's excellent collection of summer icons at

There are two holiday traditions in July. Tanabata is my favorite because it celebrates stars, love, and wishes and features fancy decorations. Obon is a festival for the dead. It's celebrated twice, in mid-July (traditional) and in mid-August (modern), so that people in Tokyo can go visit their hometowns and fete their ancestors as well as feasting the generations that grew up in the metropolis.

There is an actual national holiday coming up, Marine Day on the 20th, but nobody really seems to celebrate it. That's one of the things I love about Japan, nobody waits for the national holidays to celebrate.

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