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Here you will find honest, intelligent manga reviews for shojo fans of all ages.

Jun 2, 2009

Shōjo Sensei: Summer Festivals

A new featurette beginning this week that addresses Japanese words or cultural traditions that can be learned through reading shōjo manga. Since everyone's starting on the summer stretch, I thought this would be a good time to cover summer festivals in Japan.

The most popular summer festival is known as Obon, which celebrates remembering one's ancestors. The date of the celebration varies from region to region, but most temples hold festivities in mid-July or mid-August. Since the events are held in the heat of summer it is traditional for participants to wear yukata or light kimonos. There are numerous manga that picture the female protagonists dressed in yukata with their hair styled up, going out with friends or on a date to a local festival. Wearing a yukata can make a girl appear more feminine than regular western style attire that teens prefer on a daily basis. So for the guys this can be a surprising transformation. Guys wear them too, and in my opinion look just as attractive. Pictured below is a colored image from Hana Kimi artist Hisaya Nakajo.
Other examples: Lovely Complex, Negima! Master Negi Magi, W Juliet, Me and My Brothers, Name of the Flower

Temple festivities often include a huge carnival with rides, games, and summer festival food, like watermelon. The festival ends with a lantern floating ceremony, where paper lanterns are floated down rivers, symbolically signaling the ancestral spirits' return to the world of the dead. After the ceremony, spectators watch hanabi, or a fireworks display. Fireworks being one of those magical romantic moments, it is often used in a shojo manga at the end of the couple's date. Sometimes it's a sweet moment, other times not so much.
That's all for this post. Feel free to comment if you know of some other images that I could add. I wracked my brain, but I don't know all manga out there. I'd be happy to add others to this post.
Arigatō!

5 comments:

Agent 00Ebil said...

I'm not sure if these count:
Love*Com Vol.4 - Where Risa asks Otani out
I think there's also a scene in W Juliet where they go to the festival (The main pairing and their siblings).
There's also a sort of scene in Me & My Brothers where the heroine is wearing a yukata and I believe they're at a festival (sorry I don't know the volumes/pages for the last two)

Shojo Flash said...

I love looking at kukata! They are so pretty, without being as fancy as kimono. Don't get me wrong, I love kimono!

Lexie said...

I'm pretty certain there's a mention of Obon in Wild Ones/Arakure (by Kiyo Fujiwra), but my volumes are packed up so I can't double check it. I know its brought up in Tenchi Muyo (both the anime and the manga) quite a few times however.

lyschan said...

You didn't mention the fact that the fireworks are almost ALWAYS coupled with some kind of confession that gets missed because the person being confessed to can't hear it! Hahaha. But yeah, summer festivals are a staple. The first chapter of vol3 of Me & My Brothers has a festival, mixed with time travel!! There's a festival in the first volume of Name of the Flower, too. Those examples both fall nicely into the "sweet" category.

I liked the W Juliet page you shared. Even though Ito is all dressed up and "feminine," she's swinging around that balloon-thing? and it conveys her more energetic "tomboyish" personality. Or nervousness? You can tell she's not comfortable, anyway. Hee.

Anonymous said...

great post

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