Saturday, July 23, 2011

Natsuyasumi (Summer Vacation)

Natsuyasumi, or "summer vacation" for Japanese children just started last week.  Japanese summer vacation typically starts around July 20th-September 1st.  Unlike American schools (unless maybe year-round schools), the Japanese students begin their school year in April, and end the following March.  Natsuyasumi is taken after the first trimester, so Japanese students will resume their same grade when they return to school in September.

This is a very busy time for traveling in Japan.  The trains, roadways, malls, amusement parks and almost everything are noticeably more crowded.  We were forewarned about this during our new area orientation so we knew what to expect.  I've also found that many tours, airlines and hotels have also raised their rates from mid-July through August.  This isn't too surprising since this is very typical when traveling most anywhereduring peak season. 

Wearing jinbei.

During natsuyasumi there are many local festivals (Matsuri) to attend.  Here you will find wonderful food, treasures, a cold drink (or two) and entertainment.  Not to mention, you can wear a yukata (summer kimono) or jinbei (consists of a top/short ensemble).  These traditional costumes will give any foreigner the opportunity to immerse themselves into Japan's wonderful customs and festivities.  The biggest summer festival, the Obon Festival (also called Bon Odori), will be held next month in our area.  We will be wearing our traditional Japanese clothes, working a booth, dancing and enjoying yet another Japanese experience.

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