Archive | 7:43 AM

なつまつり/ Japanese Summer Festival

3 Aug

What do you think of when you think about August in Japan (other than it being hot and humid)?

I think of Natsu Matsuri/なつまつり (Summer Festival)!! I don’t remember very vividly, but I know my parents took me to a lot of natsu matsuri’s (夏祭り) when I was little and they say I loved to do the bon dance and would dance for hours!

I would LOVE to take my kids to Japan to experience natsu matsuri someday. But in the meanwhile, we have been participating in Japanese summer festivals of our own in the USA with our friends (I know, so lucky)! If you want to have your own natsu matsuri party, just gather some of your friends and have each person be in charge of a booth and have the children dress up in their jinbei’s/yukata’s. It makes for a fun and adorable party!

How to Have a Japanese-Style Summer Festival:




1. ヨーヨーつり/Yo-yo Tsuri: The “yo-yo” is a small water balloon filled with air and water. It is attached to a rubber string which has a loop on the end. You use a “fishing pole” which is a paper string with a metal hook attached to the end of it to try and pick up the water balloon by the loop before the paper disintegrates. Children can then put the loop around their finger and bounce the balloon like a yo-yo.

2. きんぎょすくい/Kingyo Sukui: This is a goldfish catching game. You can use real or fake fish. Children use a scooper (the net is a thin piece of paper) and try to scoop out a fish from a pool without breaking the paper net. They can then take home the fish.

3. せんぼんびき/Senbonbiki: Treats are attached to long pieces of string which are strung through holes. The child pulls on a piece of string, not knowing which treat it is attached to.  I learned about this game for the first time this year.

4. わなげ/Wanage: Ring toss.




1. わたあめ/Wataame: Cotton candy

2. フランクフルト/Frankfurts: grilled hot dogs on a stick

3. かきごおり/Kakigoori: Shaved ice

4. たこやき/Takoyaki: Round Asian-pancake-style-batter filled with a bit of octopus in the middle. Delish!

5. やきそば/Yakisoba: Fried noodles with vegetables and meat

6. クレープ/Crepes: MMMm 🙂

7. ラムネ/Ramune: A fun carbonated drink with a marble stuck inside (my friend said World Market carries them)




1. おめん/Omen/Masks: In Japan, children can choose from a variety of plastic masks featuring popular characters, at a matsuri. One of my friends had a great idea and made her own anpanman masks out of paper plates and red foam stickers (see her blog post HERE).

2. うちわ/Uchiwa: Make your own paper fans (essential for cooling off when it’s hot out!)

My cute kids in jinbei's made by their Obaachan


1. じんべい/Jinbei: Summer kimono’s with short sleeves and shorter bottoms

2. ゆかた/Yukata: Looks more like a full-length kimono, but not as formal, and a lighter weight for summer



1. ぼんおどり/Bonodori: Traditional festival dances (How-To Video HERE)

2. はなび/Hanabi: Fireworks

3. カラオケ/Karaoke: Anyone have a karaoke machine?

4. すもう/Sumo: Check out this site for kid-friendly sumo game variations


Do you live in Japan? You can visit these websites to find local summer festivals:



Where to Buy Materials for Natsu Matsuri:

1. has yo-yo balloon sets and masks (dollars and yen)

2. If you live in Japan, check out Focus UsagiHansoku Ryouhin, and of course


What have I missed? What is your favorite part of a natsu matsuri?

PS: Do you like Hiragana Mama? Make sure you tell your friends about it 🙂 Thanks!

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