April has also begun, and with it, as you may know, a new year is officially opening in Japan: it is the beginning of the fiscal year, of schools and universities, and for many it is the beginning of a new job. Spring brings with it the awakening of nature, cherry blossoms bloom and are celebrated, and in doing so you prepare for a new life, a new beginning. It is Japan's New Year, somewhat what September represents us, the month of the resumption of normal activities, of new projects and resolutions.

April 8 in Japan is a special day: in fact, the Kanbutsue 灌 仏 会 (washing the image of the Buddha) is celebrated, known above all by the name of Hana Matsuri Festa (Flower Festival).

The festival is a celebration that commemorates the birthday of the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama), linked to the ritual of Vesak, one of the most important religious holidays of the Buddhist calendar, during which, symbolically, birth, enlightenment (the achievement of nirvana) and the death of Gautama Buddha, and is celebrated by Buddhists from all over the world and of all traditions.

Hana matsuri: date and celebrations

In East Asia, the eighth day of the fourth month is celebrated according to the ancient Chinese lunar calendar, a date that varies every year. In Japan, however, it was celebrated following the lunar calendar until 1837, when the Gregorian calendar was adopted, and since then the celebration has been set for April 8.

On this day numerous and solemn ceremonies are dedicated that pay homage to Buddha, with processions and the construction of small buildings decorated with beautiful flowers, inside which a statuette of the Buddha is placed that the faithful will bathe with a sacred drink, the amacha 甘 茶, a sweet tea obtained by infusing hydrangea leaves in boiling water.

To remember:

✿ Hana-matsuri {花祭} celebrates the birthday and life of the historical Buddha: Gautama Buddha

❀ Due to the belief that plants in this period, as a sign of respect, release all their beauty, the commemoration also becomes a festival of flowers, which are used for decorations

✿ It is traditional to pour sweet amacha tea over the figurines of the baby Buddha {甘 茶}

❀ Hana-matsuri is also an opportunity to honor Japanese culture.