Melbourne Japanese Summer Festival 2014

THE Japanese Summer Festival returns in February bringing colourful ‘Yukata’ Kimonos, tantalising ‘matsuri’ holiday foods and the  ‘Bon Dance’ to Melbourne.  Sol Ahn shares what visitors can expect at this year’s festival.

A dance performance by the main stage of the festival. Photo: Supplied

A dance performance by the main stage of the festival. Photo: Supplied

Since 2010, Melbourne has hosted the Japanese Summer Festival, a vibrant and colourful celebration of Japanese ‘Bon Matsuri’ (or ‘Bon Festival’).

The event honours the Japanese tradition of welcoming ancestral spirits through the spiritual dance of ‘Bon Odori’ (or Bon Dance), and visitors are invited to join the celebrations by tasting traditional holiday foods and watching song, dance and martial art performances.

Taking place at Federation Square this year instead of its usual locale at Docklands, visitors who want to learn the ‘Bon Dance’ are welcome to join in, and the event provides a range of family friendly activities including origami classes for the kids and Japanese ‘Taiko Drumming’ demonstrations.

University student Shojeeb Alam attends the festival every year. He says he is excited and expects this year’s event to be better than ever.

“I think the greater number of people will add to the ‘matsuri’ atmosphere of the event, because the crowded atmosphere will make it feel more like a real Japanese Summer Festival. So I expect a more authentic atmosphere this year!”

Feel free to wear your finest kimono or yukata on the day! Photo: Supplied

Feel free to wear your finest kimono or yukata on the day! Photo: Supplied

But while the festive atmosphere is certainly appreciated by Shojeeb, there is no doubt for him that the event’s major attraction is it’s authentic foods.

“I always look forward to the food stalls, because I don’t often get the chance to eat Japanese festival food. I love eating takoyaki, taiyaki, ikayaki, and many other ‘matsuri’ food,” Shojeeb says.

“Unless you go to Japan, you cannot experience a Japanese Summer Festival, so it’s great to have this type of event held annually in Melbourne. That’s why I go every year!”

The Japanese Summer Festival 2014 will be held February 2 at Federation Square from 1.00pm-5.00-pm. This is a free event.

For more information check out the Japanese Summer Festival event page.

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