March is often referred to as Goldilocks month because the temperature is just right. It’s also the time when winter finally gives way to spring. Hokkaido, for example, has many ski resorts and is still snowy and cold in March. arrival of celebrations and events that highlight the nation’s heritage and culture. Late March ushers in the blooming of cherry trees in many Japanese cities, including Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Yokohama, and Nagoya. Traditional Japanese festivals, sumo tournaments, animal expeditions, and anime conventions fill the month of March. Everything there is to do and see in Japan in March is detailed in this article.
3rd March – Hinamatsuri
The Japanese celebration of Hina Matsuri, also known as Girls’ Day, has its roots in Chinese tradition. Girls are encouraged to take care of their health, happiness, and development. Hina dolls ward off bad luck and harm. In honour of the wedding of Japan’s royal couple, these hina dolls are given as a gift to young girls along with well-wishes for their future health and happiness. The emperor and empress, dressed for the era, traditionally stand on the hina-dan platform.
The hina-dan should be up for at least a week prior to hinamatsuri, which occurs between setsubun and the middle of March. The most ordered dish at the festival is chirashizushi, or “scattered sushi.” One of Japan’s most iconic dishes is vinaigrette rice with a variety of vegetables, thin egg omelettes, and shellfish. Hamaguri clam clear soup and hishi mochi, a three-colored rice cake, are traditional dishes for the Hinamatsuri festival.
11th March – Tsunan Snow Festival
The town of Tsunan in Japan’s Niigata Prefecture hosts a wonderful annual winter festival known as the Tsunan Snow Festival. Attendees travel from all over Japan and the world to attend this festival held during the first weekend of March. The spectacular snow sculptures that the local artisans have carved with chainsaws and chisels are the highlight of the festival. The sculptures depict a wide range of subjects, from well-known landmarks and characters to fantastical beasts and animals.
Snowmobiling, snow rafting, and traditional Japanese games are just a few of the activities available to guests. The festival is a wonderful example of the inventiveness and creativity of the people who live in the area.
1st to 14th March – Omizutori Fire festival
Omizutori is one of the oldest Buddhist rites still performed today, with a history stretching back some 1,250 years. Nara’s Todai-ji Temple hosts a festival every year from March 1st to March 14th (the second month of the traditional lunar calendar). And what exactly does “Water Drawing” refer to in the context of Omizutori? One of the ritual’s hidden parts takes place at 3 a.m. on the 13th, when priests of the temple go to a well that, legend has it, only flows once a year. It is believed that this water has healing properties, so it is first offered to Kannon and other deities before being made available to the public.
On March 12, the most torches will be lit, and the most people will attend the event. Beginning at 7:30 p.m., the festivities will last for 45 minutes, during which time the audience will be shuffled forward so that everyone can get close to the veranda. At 6:30 p.m. on the 14th, all ten torches are lit simultaneously for one rapid and dazzling 10 minutes, marking the beginning of a shorter but no less dramatic version of the celebrations. Unbelievably, the wooden Nigatsudo has survived since 1667 without being destroyed by fire, making it older than the more well-known Daibutsuden at Todai-ji.
12th March – Hiwatari-sai
Near Takaosanguchi Station, between 3,000 and 4,000 people show up every year on the second Sunday of March for the Fire Walking Festival hiwatari matsuri). The monks’ barefoot procession through the embers of burning wood is the main attraction; they do this to rid themselves of evil spirits and to pray for world peace, long lives, a smooth journey through life, and the well-being of all living things. At 1, monks will enter the main stadium in a procession while chanting (held in a car park just off the main road). Following this, the monks engage in rituals such as fighting off evil spirits with various weapons, flaying their bodies with branches dipped in hot water, and reciting the names of those who have paid for the privilege.
Following the preliminary ritual, a square pile of wood and fern fronds is set ablaze. The monks use buckets of water to douse the flames for a period of one to two minutes, during which time the fern branches catch fire. After passing out the ambers, they prepare two strips for the participants to walk barefoot through while chanting. The public can pay a small fee to join the monks on their way across the bridge (by this stage the ambers are no longer smouldering and there should be no worry of burning your feet). Numerous stands sell the usual party fare (takoyaki, fried chicken, chocolate bananas, etc.). The event officially wraps up at 3:30pm after a pre-ceremony and bonfire burning that lasts about 90 minutes.
18th March – Golden Dragon March
Kinryu-no-Mai (Golden Dragon Dancing) (Golden Dragon Dance) The Golden Dragon Dance, celebrated on March 18, was founded in 1958 to commemorate the renovation of Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple’s main hall. It has an 18-meter-long, 88-kilogram golden dragon that dances to joyful music.
The name is derived from the mountain linked with Sensoji Temple, Kinryu-zan (Golden Dragon Mountain), and history has it that when the statue of the Goddess of Mercy first emerged (which led to the establishment of Senso-ji), a golden dragon dropped from the skies. The dance is inspired by a narrative of Kannon, the bodhisattva of kindness to whom Sensoji is devoted. According to legend, she descended from the skies as a golden dragon. She constructed a forest of a thousand pines overnight, indicating a bountiful harvest.
Asakusa’s Golden Dragon Dancing The procession begins at Denpoin Temple and slowly makes its way up to Sensoji’s main hall before turning off to the west side of the temple. The dragon—carried by eight “dancers”—is the first to appear, stopping to dance in front of the spectators who line each side of the walk to Senso-ji. A float of shamisen and flute-playing geisha follows.
12th March to 26th March – Osaka Sumo Tournament
Sumo is said to have its roots in a Shinto ritual dance where the most powerful men displayed their strength in front of the kami (gods or spirits) as a sign of respect and gratitude to bring in a good harvest. Six major sumo tournaments (called honbasho) are conducted each year, one in each odd month, each lasting 15 days. Three of these honbasho are hosted in Tokyo at the famed Ryogoku Kokugikan in Sumida. While the others are held in the prefectures of Osaka, Aichi, and Fukuoka. Heavyset males enter a tiny ring and throw their bodies at each other. Their objective is to evict or knock their opponent out of the ring and rule supreme in the ancient sport of sumo. To feel the thrill of this 2,000-year-old ritualised contest, go to the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Namba. Daily matches are held from 8:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
The event is televised on NHK (Japan’s BBC), but nothing can compare to the tension of sitting in silence among 10,000 supporters as the sumo wrestlers pose behind the white battle lines, waiting for the right time to lunge. Tickets are available via the Japan Sumo Association’s official ticketing website. Apart for ringside seats and general admission tickets, all tickets are available via the official ticketing site
1st to 15th March – Snowboarding in Hokkaido
March is also a great time to hit the slopes in Japan. Many ski resorts in the country stay open until early May, and March is considered the peak season for skiing and snowboarding. The snow conditions are usually excellent during this time, and the crowds are smaller than during the winter holidays. Some popular ski resorts to visit in Japan in March include Niseko in Hokkaido, Nozawa Onsen in Nagano, and Hakuba in Niigata
20th March – Shunbun no Hi
Shunbun no Hi is a Japanese national holiday celebrated in Japan on March 20th or 21st to commemorate the spring equinox. Shunbun no Hi was once a Shinto celebration named Shunki Koreisai, back when Shinto had a strong political role. This festival was tied to the imperial family, who had considerable power throughout the Meiji period. They worshipped their ancestors at the Shunki Koreisai, but they also prayed for the royal family’s former members.
The American government enabled Japan to maintain the figure of the Emperor after the conclusion of World War II for a variety of reasons, but the royal family, although still powerful, lost significant authority in state matters. It is a day for remembering ancestors and praying for a plentiful crop. Around this time, many individuals visit their family gravesites and leave flowers, incense, and food. To mark the anniversary, certain temples and shrines host unique ceremonies and rituals.
This festival is part of a seven-day Buddhist holiday celebration known as Haru no Higan (). Shunbun no Hi is the precise midpoint day, since the celebration begins three days before and finishes three days after. According to Buddhism, during the summer equinox, when the hours of light and darkness are equal, Buddha emerges and assists lost souls in crossing the river between this world and the next.
22nd March – Cherry Blossom Viewing in Kyoto
March is the month when Japan’s famous cherry blossoms, or sakura, start to bloom. The blooming of these pink and white flowers is an important event in Japan. People from all over the country gather to admire their beauty. Hanami is a popular pastime during this time, where people picnic under the cherry trees, eat and drink, and enjoy the fleeting beauty of the blossoms. Some popular places to enjoy hanami include Ueno Park in Tokyo, Maruyama Park in Kyoto, and Hirosaki Castle in Aomori. Cherry blossoms in Tokyo generally start from March 22 and its on full bloom by March 30.
21st to 31st March – Strawberry farm in Tochigi
A strawberry farm, such as Yoshimura Strawberry Park in Mashiko, Tochigi Prefecture. The farm, which has 6 distinct strawberry kinds, provides “All you can eat with no time restriction”. You may pick and enjoy the strawberries, but you may not take them away from the farm. You may purchase strawberries to take home from a specified location.
Kamakura Kanko Ichigo Farm is one of the top all-you-can-eat strawberry picking locations near Tokyo. It is closer to the first location indicated above. This farm differs from the previous in that it provides a 30-minute strawberry picking experience. You may pick and eat as many strawberries as you like during this time as well.
March is a fantastic time to visit Japan and experience its unique culture and traditions. Whether you’re admiring the cherry blossoms, or hitting the slopes, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during this exciting month. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for a memorable trip to Japan in March! March is a special time of the year in Japan. It offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty of cherry blossoms & more. It’s a time when Japan comes alive with color and culture.