For a few fleeting moments in spring, cherry trees bloom in ephemeral splendor and people turn out in droves before the blossoms disappear. At least that’s what people believe.
The Anjinsai Festival in Ito, Shizuoka, is a captivating local festival on the Izu peninsula that draws locals and tourists alike to experience a fusion of traditional customs and exhilarating festivities. Known for its breathtaking fireworks display, energetic yosakoi dances, thrilling taiko competition, and lively outdoor Wakuwaku-ichi market and beer garden at Fuji no Hiroba, the Anjinsai Festival is a true celebration of the rich cultural heritage and lively spirit of Ito.
Here in Izu, we have some of the earliest blooming varieties of sakura (cherry trees). The most famous is the Kawazuzakura, which begins to bloom in the beginning of February and peaks around the second to third week of the month. This early variety was developed in the city of Kawazu, where a popular festival runs from the beginning till the end of February.
Everything about Japanese culture can be traced back to its rural villages. Japanese language, behavior, rituals, and diet can be traced back to a small village tucked away in a remote mountain valley.
How can that be? Let’s look at one lesson from language.
One of the first words a foreigner learns when studying Japanese is “gaijin,” 外人 which means ‘outsider.’ The more polite and socially accepted version of this word is “gaikokujin,” 外国人 which means ‘person from a foreign country.’ The word “gaijin” is strongly connected to the important concepts of “uchi” 内 and “soto” 外 in Japanese.