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Thursday, 31st October 2013
In Events In Japan,

Bonden-Sai festival gets date

Japan's Bonden-Sai festival will officially be happening on January 17th 2014, it has been announced, with the residents of Akita City turning out to enjoy this splendid event.

As one of the country's most traditional matsuri (local festivals), the day is likely to prove educational and entertaining to foreign visitors.

The general idea behind the Bonden-Sai celebration is simple. In ancient times, it was believed that the Gods required markers in order to descend to this world, and that they had to be brightly coloured.

Hence the creation of the bonden, a four-metre rod that is decorated with various fabrics and baskets of various colours.

To pay homage to these tributes, groups of children, townspeople, or even company employees within Akita City create a bonden between them before entrusting one member to carry it all the way up to the shrine on Mount Taiheizan.

The carriers race to the shrine in an attempt to be the first to lay their gift at the shrine and thus receive a gift bestowed by the gods for guiding their way. This can take the form of an abundant harvest, good health for their families or success in business.

All of this translates into an immensely exciting spectacle for onlookers, with the action getting particularly heated at the shrine at around noon as the first bonden carriers reach their destination.

If you are travelling to Japan in January, it is worth taking a detour to Akita city to experience Bonden-Sai, as it represents a holy festival that is very representative of the country's spiritual nature.

Those travelling at other times of the year need not fret, however, as Japan is home to a plethora of festivals both local and international. No matter where you're travelling, there will always be an opportunity to witness a special celebration.

Written by Susan Ballion