Chou you no Sekku Or Chrysanthemum Festival In Japan: What Is It? And How Is It Celebrated In Japan?

Here’s everything you need to know about Chou you no Sekku also known as the Chrysanthemum festival in Japan. 

The Chou-you-no-Sekku Festival, also known as the Chrysanthemum Festival, is a traditional Japanese festival that celebrates the autumn season and the beauty of chrysanthemums. 

The festival is held on the 9th day of the 9th month (September 9th) according to the lunar calendar, which is equivalent to early October in the Gregorian calendar.

Key Takeaways:

  • Chouyou-no-Sekku, also known as the Chrysanthemum Festival, is a Japanese festival celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth month of the lunar calendar, which typically falls in October.
  • The festival is rooted in Chinese tradition and was introduced to Japan during the Heian period (794-1185).
  • Chrysanthemums are considered to have medicinal properties and are believed to ward off evil spirits and promote longevity.
  • During Chouyou-no-Sekku, people decorate their homes with chrysanthemum flowers and enjoy chrysanthemum-flavored foods and drinks, such as chrysanthemum sake and chestnut rice.
  • The festival is a time to celebrate the changing seasons and to appreciate the beauty of nature.

What Is Chou you no sekku? 

Chou-you-no-Sekku is a customary festival in Japan, which is alternatively referred to as the Chrysanthemum Festival.

It takes place on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, generally falling in late September or early October in the Gregorian calendar.

The roots of Chou-you-no-Sekku can be dated back to early China, where the festival was originally known as the Double Ninth Festival.

It was introduced to Japan in the eighth century and has since evolved into an essential aspect of Japanese customs and traditions.

Origins and History Of Chou you no sekku

The origins of the Chou-you-no-Sekku Festival date back to the Heian period (794-1185), when the imperial court held chrysanthemum-viewing parties. 

During the Kamakura period (1185-1333), the festival became more widespread and was celebrated by samurai families, who displayed chrysanthemums in their homes as a symbol of strength and endurance.

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In the Edo period (1603-1868), the festival became known as Chou-you-no-Sekku, which means “Double Ninth Festival” in Japanese. 

This name is derived from the fact that the festival is held on the ninth day of the ninth month, which is considered an auspicious day in Japanese culture.

During the Edo period, the festival became more elaborate, with the shogunate hosting chrysanthemum exhibitions and competitions. 

The festival also became an occasion for samurai warriors to display their martial arts skills and for commoners to enjoy traditional Japanese arts and crafts.

Today, the Chou-you-no-Sekku Festival is still celebrated throughout Japan, with various events and activities taking place in cities and towns across the country.

Celebrations and Traditions Of Chou-you-no-Sekku Or Chrysanthemum Festival

  • Chrysanthemum Display

One of the main traditions of the Chou-you-no-Sekku Festival is the display of chrysanthemums, which are considered a symbol of longevity and good fortune in Japanese culture. 

The chrysanthemum is also the official flower of the imperial family, and the imperial court still holds chrysanthemum-viewing parties during the festival.

  • Parades and Performances

In addition to the chrysanthemum displays, there are also parades, martial arts demonstrations, and traditional Japanese music and dance performances. 

One popular event is the Yabusame, a type of archery on horseback that dates back to the Kamakura period.

  • Chrysanthemum Themed Foods

Another important aspect of the Chou-you-no-Sekku Festival is the food. 

Traditional Japanese dishes such as chestnut rice, chrysanthemum-shaped mochi (sweet rice cakes), and sake (rice wine) are consumed during the festival.

Traditional Foods Made During Chou-you-no-Sekku

The Chou-you-no-Sekku Festival, also known as the Chrysanthemum Festival, is a traditional Japanese festival that celebrates the beauty of autumn and the chrysanthemum flower. 

Traditional foods play an important role in the festival and are enjoyed by people across Japan. 

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Here are some examples of traditional foods for Chou-you-no-Sekku:

  1. Chestnut rice (kuri gohan)

This is a popular dish made by mixing cooked rice with chestnuts, soy sauce, and sake. The chestnuts give the rice a sweet and nutty flavor, and the dish is often garnished with sesame seeds or chopped green onions.

  1. Chrysanthemum-shaped mochi (kiku-mochi)

Mochi is a sweet rice cake that is a staple of Japanese cuisine. For Chou-you-no-Sekku, mochi is shaped like chrysanthemum flowers and served with sweet red bean paste.

  1. Chrysanthemum Sake

Sake is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. It is often consumed during Chou-you-no-Sekku and is considered a symbol of good fortune and prosperity.

  1. Kuri Kinton

Kuri Kinton is a sweet dish made from mashed sweet potatoes and chestnuts. It is often served as a dessert during Chou-you-no-Sekku.

  1. Matsutake mushroom soup (matsutake no suimono)

Matsutake mushrooms are a prized ingredient in Japanese cuisine, and they are often used to make a clear soup with tofu and other vegetables. This soup is served during Chou-you-no-Sekku to celebrate the autumn season.

  1. Eel (unagi)

 Eel is a traditional dish that is often consumed during Chou-you-no-Sekku. It is usually grilled and served with a sweet and savory sauce.

These are just a few examples of the traditional foods that are enjoyed during Chou-you-no-Sekku. The festival is a great opportunity to try new dishes and experience the rich culinary traditions of Japan.

How Is Chou-you-no-Sekku Celebrated?

If you want to celebrate Chou-you-no-Sekku, here are some ways you can do it:

  • Visit a chrysanthemum garden

Many parks and gardens in Japan hold chrysanthemum exhibitions during Chou-you-no-Sekku. Visiting a chrysanthemum garden is a great way to appreciate the beauty of the flowers and learn more about their cultural significance.

  • Prepare traditional foods

As I mentioned earlier, traditional foods play an important role in the Chou-you-no-Sekku festival. You can prepare some of the traditional foods at home or visit a local Japanese restaurant to try them.

  • Watch a Yabusame performance 

Yabusame is a traditional Japanese archery on horseback that is often performed during Chou-you-no-Sekku. If you’re in Japan during the festival, you can watch a Yabusame performance at a local shrine or temple.

  • Offering chrysanthemums to the gods
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At temples and shrines, people offer chrysanthemum flowers and other gifts to the gods. This is done to express gratitude for a good harvest and to pray for continued prosperity.

  • Kiku Ningyo

Kiku Ningyo is a traditional Japanese craft that involves making dolls out of chrysanthemum flowers. These dolls are often displayed at home or in public places during Chou-you-no-Sekku.

  • Attend a festival

Many cities and towns in Japan hold Chou-you-no-Sekku festivals with parades, martial arts demonstrations, and traditional Japanese music and dance performances. Attending a festival is a great way to experience the festive atmosphere and immerse yourself in Japanese culture.

Where is Chou-you-no-Sekku held?

The Chou-you-no-Sekku Festival is celebrated throughout Japan, and many cities and towns hold their own Chou-you-no-Sekku events. Some of the most famous and popular Chou-you-no-Sekku celebrations in Japan include the following

  • Meiji Shrine Chrysanthemum Exhibition

This exhibition is held at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo and features over 2,000 chrysanthemum plants arranged in intricate displays. The exhibition is held from late October to early November each year.

  • Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Chrysanthemum Festival

This festival is held at the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura, near Tokyo. The festival includes traditional Japanese music and dance performances, as well as the display of chrysanthemum flowers in various forms.

  • Suizenji Jojuen Garden Chrysanthemum Festival

This festival is held in Kumamoto City on the southern island of Kyushu. The festival is held in the beautiful Suizenji Jojuen Garden, which is known for its scenic beauty and historic significance.

  • Hagi Chrysanthemum Festival

This festival is held in the historic city of Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture, on the western coast of Japan. The festival includes a parade, traditional Japanese music and dance performances, and the display of chrysanthemum flowers in various forms.

Conclusion

The Chou-you-no-Sekku Festival, or Chrysanthemum Festival, is a traditional Japanese festival that celebrates the beauty of autumn and the chrysanthemum flower. 

The festival has a long history that dates back to the Heian period, and it has evolved over time to become a popular event celebrated throughout Japan.

Whether you’re interested in Japanese culture, martial arts, or just want to enjoy some traditional Japanese food and drink, the Chou-you-no-Sekku Festival is a great way to experience the beauty and diversity of Japanese culture.

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