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japanese american cultural terms & traditions
Learn a bit about Japanese & Japanese American cultural terms
New Year's Tradition
During the New Year’s Holiday in Japan, it is a tradition
to play hanestuki, a badminton type game. Participants
use a hagoita (beautifully decorated racket that
is also a good luck charm), to hit the hane (ball),
which is made from a soapberry nut and pretty bird feathers.
The act of hitting the hane is said to help expel
Translation: Cherry Blossom Festival
Warriors considered the cherry blossom to be a symbol of
a life to live fully, no matter how short. The Japanese celebrate
its arrival in spring with an annual festival where friends
gather under the trees to enjoy sake (rice wine), sing songs,
and celebrate the coming of spring.
Translation: Cherry Blossom Viewing
During spring, Hanami (hana = flower, mi
= see) Picnics and Cherry Blossom (or sakura) festivals
are held all over Japan.
The custom of Hanami has existed since the 7th century as
aristocrats wrote poems and enjoyed the beautiful scenery
of the Sakura. During Japan’s feudal period, the Sakura
became the symbol and code of the Samurai. At the start of
the Meiji-era, Emperor Meiji insisted that all Sakura trees
be cut down so their would be no reminder of the feudal period.
Fortunately, the tradition has returned and groups of friends,
family and co-workers enjoy the Hanami by having picnics under
the blooming Sakura trees.
“Kodomo no Hi”
Translation: Children’s Day
Traditionally celebrated on May 5th, this day celebrates
children. Families fly koinobori or carp-shaped streamers
outside their homes, eat rice cakes or kashiwamochi and display
warriors in their traditional armor to represent bravery and