Hi everyone! In preparation for Rakuen’s release, I thought it’d be fun to do a new article series here. As some of you know, there are many Japanese cultural topics that get referenced throughout the game (everything from seasonal events and foods, to mythology and children’s traditions). One of my fondest memories of being a child in Japan, was going to “Omatsuri” (Japanese festivals).
The above screenshot is from a festival in Leeble Village called “Star Night,” which was heavily influenced by summertime festivals like Tanabata or Obon. You can see two stands in the background: the left one says “Kakigori” which means “shaved ice,” and the right one says “Kingyo Sukui” which is a fun (albeit challenging) fishing game where you attempt to catch a pet goldfish before your paper net dissolves in the water. I was never very good at that… Besides games, summertime Omatsuri often have colorful live music and dancing. I remember a giant float with paper lanters, people playing Taiko drums, and folks in Yukata (a lighter version of a Kimono that you’d wear in the summer) dancing around them.
Above are some of my childhood pictures: (from left to right) Wearing a Yukata and enjoying Kakigori, dancing with my sisters around the giant float with paper lanterns, and playing with “hanabi” (fireworks/sparklers). Besides dancing and games, there’s also plenty to eat and drink at these festivals; one drink in particular I wanted to include in the game is called “Ramune.” It’s a refreshing carbonated drink that comes in an interestingly shaped glass bottle with a marble inside. I remember a boy at my school telling me there was a secret way to get that marble out of the glass bottle without breaking it, but I never figured out how… In retrospect, I’m pretty sure he was making that up.
There are many Omatsuri throughout the year in Japan beginning with Oshougatsu (new year’s celebration). Ever since I can remember, my family would eat soba noodles before midnight on the 31st (my dad said it was symbolic of washing away bad things from the previous year… a “fresh start” so to speak), clean the house, and enjoy Osechi Ryouri (special new year’s food served in lacquered boxes) on the 1st. I love Osechi Ryouri~! It’s always so colorful, beautifully presented and delicious! My mom would also prepare Anko Mochi (sticky rice with sweet beans that she simmered for hours), which is still my dad’s favorite.
Have you ever been to an Omatsuri before? Or have you noticed these special festivals being referenced in cartoons or video games? My favorite episode of Pokemon is actually about Hina-matsuri (Girl’s Day). In this episode, Misty and Jessie compete in order to win a set of Pokemon-themed Hina Ningyo (the dolls pictured below). The ending is one of the reasons Team Rocket has a special place in my heart ^_^
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this first “Rakuen and Japanese Culture” article about Omatsuri!
sounds really nice
I love hearing about the background of the game. 🙂 I have a Hello Kitty ramune drink bottle. I actually bought it here, and the drink itself wasn’t that different than maybe Sprite or 7-Up, but I loved the bottle so much I had to keep it.
Thank-you Aimee! Oooh I think I’ve seen the Hello Kitty ones before (maybe at a Sanrio)! And I totally know what you mean… I actually have such a tough time throwing away nice glass bottles in general, haha. I have a mini collection of little glass bottles that (to me) look like potion bottles. I’ve started filling them with things like tea bags or dice 😛
I love hearing this context for the game, as well as your personal anecdotes. I was always curious how accurate those festivals were after seeing them in anime like Love Hina. Thanks for the post Shigi!
I’m glad to hear that! I’m always afraid that I’m too rambly when I talk about those things, so thank-you for saying that 🙂 And yeah it seems that they reference Omatsuri a lot in media! I recently watched the Animal Crossing anime and they had a lot of references to summer festivals as well (like all the animals were wearing yukata for example) ^^
I absolutely adore your music, and have subscribed to your YouTube channel! Thank you so much for creating this beautiful thing that the world is proud to call music. The game sounds amazing, and I can’t wait for its release! Never stop being awesome and inspiring.
I think its really cool that you’re including Japanese culture in Rakuen! Being half Korean, it always makes me happy to see people embrace their diverse backgrounds. I think including the Ramune is absolutely adorable!! Ramune was one of my favorite drinks as a child (but I was still never able to get the marble out XD) And oh man do I still love mochi, so much that I even named my new kitten Mochi 🙂 Rakuen actually reminds me a bit of Big Hero 6 in terms of the Japanese fusion elements!! I can’t wait to play Rakuen and hear the beautiful soundtrack, its sure to give me the feels :3
Japanese culture has got to be one of the most beautiful cultures in the world, at least for me! ❤ There's so much beauty in there and it's fun to learn about it too! Thank you for taking your time to make this game and include Japanese culture as well, so not only is the game gonna be fun and maybe challenging, but we can learn something new as well.
By the way what is the episode of Pokemon that featured hinamatsuri? Episode name or number?
So love the game, love its music and fine pixel arts, and now love hearing the background of the game too. Any possible to translate such a beautiful game into Chinese and bring it into China market? If you are interested, we are indienova from China and would like to help with it. Btw, could I translate this article into Chinese and repost it in some China websites with the original link.