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Chinese traditional holidays/festivals in Japan

On June.18th, 2018, May.5th by Chinese lunar calendar, many Chinese people in Tokyo celebrated one of their traditional festivals, namely, Duan Wu (端午), or Dragon Boat Festival in English.

Traditionally, people shall eat zongzi (a kind of rice dumplings), and do dragon boat racing, in memory of the tragic death of one of the most influential poets, writers in China, Qu Yuan. It is said, unwilling to see his own country to be conquered by others, Qu Yuan chose to drown himself in Miluo River in 278BC. People living around the river, volunteered to search for his body on the river, and at the same time, dropping lots of zongzi to the river to feed fishes so that Qu Yuan’s body would not be eaten.

Qu Yuan’s loyalty and patriotism received high respects from the Confucianists. With the deliver of Confucian ideology from China to Korea, Japan and other Asian countries, people outside China started to warship Qu Yuan and celebrate Duan Wu Festival as well.

Some might think that after Meiji Restoration, focused on westernising herself, Japan must have given up celebrating Chinese holidays like Duan Wu, which proves to be not true.
On the contrary, Japanese people try to keep enjoying those old Chinese festivals, including Duan Wu, Tanabata (七夕), as well as Winter Solstice (冬至), in an even traditional way than Chinese do. While Japanese also introduced something different to those Chinese festivals by celebrating them not by its Chinese lunar calendar but Gregorian one, which means, Duan Wu (Tango in Japanese), is fixed to be on May.5th in Japan.

On May.5th, some Japanese will still take an iris bath (菖蒲湯), and have zongzi (Chimaki in Japanese), while on July.7th, Japanese people will write down their wishes, praying to the Goddess, Orihime (織姫) for gaining some new skills, etc., just as what Chinese used to do in the past hundreds of years.
These shared customs and cultures vividly exemplify that a shared memory among Japanese and Chinese exists, which matters a lot to the current society, where values often conflict, ideologies sometimes dispute, and misunderstandings frequently occur.

Nevertheless, the power of shared culture could always help to construct a bridge for communications among peoples.
When talking about the differences and commons between Chinese and Japanese way of celebrating traditional festivals such as Duan Wu and Tanabata, a memory, a history of how two countries once enjoyed a deep friendship can be recalled. A friendship started centuries ago, which once damaged, but then restored, and doomed to be deepened and even furthered in the future. A friendship between two nations, which shall endure the test of time, since it has been already rooted in our cultures.

--by Z.A.Y (from China, living in Japan since 2010)