Woman putting tanzoku decorations on a bamboo sasa tree
Japanese Holidays

Star-Crossed Lovers (Tanabata) (Ep.55)

Tanabata is a Japanese festival based on the bizarre tale of two star-crossed lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi. I’ll tell you their story and explain a little about the origins and how it’s celebrated today.

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Kintaro drinking soup with mother
Japanese Holidays

Children’s Day Iris Baths and Golden Boys (Shobuyu and Kintaro) (Ep. 51)

On May 5th people all across Japan celebrate Children’s Day or Kodomo no Hi. It might not be a normal year, but if you look out your veranda you can possibly see some carp streamer (koi nobori). One of the ways to celebrate is with an iris bath or shoubu-yu. It’s purported to make you strong like a samurai. Another way to celebrate is for boys to set out a fancy doll. Kintaro is often found in houses all over Japan. He’s also big and strong like a samurai.

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Japanese Holidays

Auspicious Cuisine (Osechi Ryori) (Ep. 45)

Osechi is Japan’s New Year’s cuisine that includes such delicacies as herring wrapped in kelp and tied with gourd strings (nori maki), dried and candied anchovies (tazukuri), and golden sweet potato and chestnut mash (kurikinton).

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setsubun oni beans
Japanese Holidays

Setsubun: The Devils are Coming! (Ep. 29)

The devils are coming! February 3rd is Setsubun in Japan and it’s not just the day before spring, it’s also the day that oni prowl the streets and children must pelt them roasted soybeans to insure good luck for the coming year.

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eggplant and cucumber horses
Japanese Holidays

Obon Part One: On Cucumber Horses They Ride (Ep. 8)

Obon is the time of year when all the ancestors’ spirits make the long haul back to the world of the living to pay a visit. Butsudan altars are decorated to the hilt and families wait expectantly for grandma and grandpa, great grandma and great grandpa (not to mention great, great, great grandma and grandpa) to arrive and hang out.

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