Five Festival Celebrations

photo: Gorazd Vihar

Traditionally, the first of the official Sekku of the New Year is Nanakusa-no-Sekku, the Feast of Seven Grasses. On this day, traditionally, a hot rice porridge is prepared including seven types of fresh green herbs (nana-kusa), including daikon radish and turnip greens, chickweed, and other wild greens thought to be good for health. Held primarily as a private family occasion in Japan, this observance is part of the extended celebration of O-Shogatsu, the Japanese New Year.Of the five festivals, O-Shogatsu was by far the most important day when families throughout the country return to their hometowns to greet the New Year together with hope for a new beginning to the next chapter in the cycle of life.

The cycle of life from birth to death is reflected in the quiet passage of a year in the Garden. Out of the cold, barren days of winter, the first buds appear on the plum and reassure us that spring will come again.

Blessed with a climate much like that of central Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden enjoys the same dramatic changes of the seasons, and we celebrate them with a series of five traditional festivals which have been observed in Japan since at least the 6th century.

Marking the changes in weather that accompany each passing cycle of the moon, the five festivals (Go-Sekku) were celebrated by farmers who sought the help of the kami, or gods, on these occasions to move the cycle of life forward and bring their crops to harvest successfully. Reflecting even older traditions that began in ancient China, the Sekku were celebrated on propitious, powerful dates: 1/7, 3/3, 5/5, 7/7, and 9/9.

The five traditional Sekku festivals are:

Additionally, the Portland Japanese Garden observes these important cultural traditions:

Learn more:

Go-Sekku article Machiya Living article