There are too many variety of Matsuris. Therefore, we would raise this subject for series. Basically, The word "Matsuri" is originated from "Kami-O-Matsuru"= defiling At beginning, we classifies rather complicated context of Matsuris into roughly 3 categories.
Those rural Matsuris are typically simplified as follows;
Like Taue-Matsuri (Rice Planting) is to pray big harvest in Autumn through local shrine's kami (Shinto Deity). Aki-Matsuri is to express the thanks giving to Kami similar to Christian's Thanks-giving-day. When rural family built new house, Shinto priest hold Jichin-Sai Which suppress the devilish soul of the ground.
Nationwide 3 Major Matsuri
Asakusa Sanja Matsuri Mid May-Tokyo
Sanja Matsuri is a mixed festival of 3 shrines carrying portable shrines. This matsuri is to honor the 3 men who established and founded 3 Shrines which reflect the name "San(=3)-Ja" over its 3 days festival, the festival attracts anywhere from 1.5 to 2million local and tourists.
PHOTO:Asakusa Sanja Matsuri
Gion Matsuri 13-17 July-Kyoto
The Gion Matsuri is festival of The Yasaka Shrine originated with charm against mistortunes and to prevent from disease. 2types of Hoko parades are the highlights of Gion Matsuri, The first one is called Yoiyama which take place in the evening hours of 13 to 16th July. Those Hokos are displayed with gorgeous decoration and the height are too tall to remove the electric wire tentatively during Matsuri season.
The second one is called Yamahoko Jyunkou (procession) which perform slow walk to demonstrate morning hours of 17th July, because those Yamas and Hokos are dressed up with so many treasures like "Moving museums". Yamahoko Jyunklou breaks up at narrow street of Shinmachi-douri. Seeing large Hoko's passing at narrow street is quite PHOTOgenic and quite big impact to the audience.
Takayama Matsuri 14-15 April & 9-10 October
This Matsuri is called one of 3 beautiful Matsuris, Takayama city is located at mountainous Hida area in central Japan. Takayama city is beautifully preserved old town with authentic traditions and cultures. Sometimes, Takayama is called "Little Kyoto"
During those Spring and Autumn Matsuri season, Takayama-city becomes a little festive and a colorful town, however, the rest of the seasons are normally quiet and gentle town. During Takayama Matsuri seasons, there are 4 highlights. The 1st one is Yatai=Festival float which has wooden tires decorated with traditional wooden works, the 2nd one is Karakuri Ningyo(Doll) ,those dolls can move and dance mechanically as if we are watching Modern robot with traditional costumes. Some modern robotic scientists have learned the mechanism of joint movements. The 3rd one is Mikoshi (portable shrine) Procession which is carried around the town only on Spring and Autumn Matsuri seasons. The 4th one Is Evening parade which held in the evening of the first day of Takayama Matsuri.
Another Matsuris / 3 March
Hina Matsuri (Dolls festival) or Girl's Festival /3 March
is celebrated on 3rd of March decorating many colorful traditional costume worn dolls over tiered stands. Decorations are made with Peach blossoms and wishing daughters a successful and happy life.
Tango-No-Sekku( Boy窶・ Festival)/ 5 May
is the date for celebrating Boy's future success by hanging up carp streamers and display Samurai dolls symbolizing success and power of life. Recently, context of Boy's day turned out to become Children's day .
Sichi-Go-San 7・5・3Years of Ages Celebration/ Mid November
Weekends at every shrine in November is busy season fro Shinto Priest. Many parents Celebrate their children's growth and make prayer fro their future happiness at nearby Shrines. This Sichi-Go-San Celebration ages are fixed to Girls of 3 and 7 years, and boy for 5 years old. They all dressed up with their gala attire. Some children wear formal traditional Japanese KIMONO both 5-year old boy and 7-year old girl especially.