Best Summer Festivals in Japan
Guide to "MATSURI" traditional Japanese summer festivals!
One of the most attractive things about Japanese summer is traditional summer festivals “Matsuri” held across the country during the season. From traditional regional events such as Nebuta Festival to spectacular fireworks events such as Tokyo Sumida River Fireworks, there are numbers of special events that we can’t miss during summer in July and August.
Today, we have listed the best summer festivals in Japan in summer. Please check out and find your favourite summer festival in Japan this year!
Aomori Nabuta Festival (ねぶた祭り)
Date: 2–7 August
Nebuta Festival (ねぶた祭り) is one of the biggest Japanese festivals held in Aomori Prefecture. The festival features gigantic floats called “Nabuta”, in brave warriors figure and dancers called “Haneto”. This spectacular and dynamic festival attracts over 3 million people every year. There is no parade on the last night (7th), but instead there will be spectacular fireworks.
Akita Kanto Festival (秋田竿燈まつり)
Date: 3–6 August
Kanto Festival (竿灯まつり) is the traditional event to pray for a good harvest, which has been held for 280 years in Akita Prefecture. Over 200 bamboo poles with lanterns (each poles’ weight is up to 50 kg) are carried through the city at day and night .
Hanagasa Festival (花笠まつり)
Date: 5-7 August
Hanagasa Festival (花笠まつり) is one of Tohoku’s biggest summer festivals held in Yamagata Prefecture. The event features a massive parade through the city by female dancers carrying “Hanagasa” hats which are prefecture’s specialty products decorated with “Benibana”(safflower).
Sendai Tanabata Festival (仙台七夕まつり)
Date: 6–8 August
Sendai Tanabata Festival (仙台七夕まつり) is a “Star Festival” traditionally held in early August. Together with Kanto Festival and Nebuta Festival, it’s counted as three great festivals in Tohoku region. The festival features thousands of colorful streamers decorating the city’s shopping arcade, and the big fireworks event takes on the night before (5th August).
Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival (湘南ひらつか七夕まつり)
Date: early July
Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival (湘南ひらつか七夕まつり) is another the biggest Tanabata festivals in Japan, which attracts over 3 million visitors every year. During the festival, the street will be decorated with loads of colourful, gigantic streams and hundreds of stalls, selling traditional festival snacks and drinks. Hiratsuka City is in Kanagawa Prefecture and can be accessed within 1 hour from Tokyo.
Mitama Festival (みたままつり)
Date: 13–16 July
Mitama Festival (みたままつり) is one of Tokyo’s largest summer festivals held in Yasukuni Shrine, Chiyoda Ward. The festival displays 30000 lanterns dedicated to the spirits of the deceased during World War II. There will be numbers of vendors offering traditional street foods, souvenirs and attractions.
Sumida River Fireworks (隅田川花火大会)
Date: late July
The famous fireworks festival in Tokyo, Sumida River Fireworks Festival (隅田川花火大会) is one of Japan’s biggest fireworks events, featuring 22,000 fireworks and attracting over 1 million visitors. The festival is usually held on the last weekend of July.
*Postpone to the next day in case of stormy weather
Fukagawa Festival (深川祭り)
Date: mid August
Fukagawa Festival (深川祭り) is counted as one of three greatest Edo festivals along with Sanno Matsuri and Kanda Matsuri. The festival is held by Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine and lasts for 5 days around 15 August every year. The main part takes on one of these days, featuring 53 mikoshi (portable shrines) carried through the neighbourhood and wild water splash.
-Tokai & Chubu Region-
Fuji Five Lakes Fireworks Festivals (富士五湖花火大会)
Date: 1–5 August
Fuji Five Lakes Fireworks (富士五湖花火大会) are held annually in the beginning of August for 5 days at Fuji Five Lakes (Lake Kawaguchiko, Lake Yamanakako, Lake Saiko, Lake Shojiko and Lake Motosuko). The most spectacular fireworks festival takes place at Lake Kawaguchiko on the 5th day of the event.
Nagaoka Festival and Fireworks (長岡まつり大花火大会)
Date: early August
Nagaoka Festival and Fireworks (長岡まつり大花火大会) is held annually in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture, featuring portable shrine float parades and folk dance processions and the fireworks event in early August. The Nagaoka Fireworks is counted as one of the three greatest fireworks festivals in Japan, featuring over 20,000 fireworks and attracting over 1 million views.
Lake Biwa Fireworks (びわ湖大花火大会)
Date: early August
Lake Biwa Fireworks (びわ湖大花火大会) is a spectacular fireworks event held at the largest lake in the country, Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. One of the biggest fireworks event displays over 10,000 colourful fireworks over the magnificent lake, inviting over 350,000 viewers every year.
Owara Kaze no Bon (おわら風の盆)
Date: 1–3 September
Owara Kaze no Bon (おわら風の盆) is a traditional folk event held in Yatsuo Town in Toyama City with about 300 years history. The festival is held to appease typhoons and for a great harvest of rice, featuring the ceremony with dance and music by performers in the traditional costume at night.
-Kansai & Shikoku Region-
Gion Festival (祇園祭)
Date: 1–31 July (main events on 17 & 24 July)
Kyoto Gion Festival (祇園祭) is counted as one of three greatest festivals in Japan. This traditional festival has been held for over 1,000 years in Yasaka Shrine, the famous shrine in Gion area, Yamahoko town. The actual duration of the festival is set in the whole month in July, yet the main ceremonies take place on 17th (Sakimatsuri) and 24th (Atomatsuri) with the grand procession of floats.
Exclusive tickets are available for viewing the main parade of the festival from the best seated area! Click HERE to book in English!
Tenjin Festival (天神祭り)
Date: 24–25 July
Tenjin Festival (天神祭) is another one of Japan’s three greatest festivals, held at Osaka Tenmangu Shrine in the heart of Osaka City. The festival features the large procession through the city, musical performance and dance. The main event of the festival is held on the second day (25th) with procession with boats on the river and massive fireworks for grand finale.
Yosakoi Festival (よさこい祭り)
Date: 9–12 August
Yosakoi Festival (よさこい祭り) is held in Kochi Prefecture since 1954, and it’s one of the biggest traditional dance festivals in Japan. Yosakoi dancers who are dressed up in various colourful uniforms and carry “Naruko” sticks go dancing through the city as groups. The festival lasts for 4 days but the dancing parade takes on 2nd and 3rd days, the fireworks ceremony is on the first day and the national dancing competition is held on the last day.
Date: 12–15 August
The biggest traditional dance festival in Japan, Awaodori Festival (阿波踊り) is held in Tokushima Prefecture, Shikoku region. and attracts over 1 million visitors every year. Numbers of groups go through the city dancing with the traditional instrumental music. It’s one of the most energetic and happy festivals in Japan!
The festival offers exclusive tickets for seats with best views! Click HEREto purchase the ticket in English!
Miyajima Water Fireworks (宮島水中花火大会)
Miyajima Water Fireworks Festival (宮島水中花火大会) is held at Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, Hiroshima Prefecture. The spectacular fireworks are set on the sea behind the famous torii gate, which create gorgeous scenic view as over 5,000 fireworks sparkles in the dark water.
*Miyajima Water Fireworks Festival has ended in 2019.
Hakata Gion Yamakasa (博多祇園山笠)
Date: 1–15 July (the main event on 15 July)
Hakata Gion Yamakasa (博多祇園山笠) is a traditional summer event with the history of 700 years. The main event of the festival is the climax on 15 July featuring traditional floats which weight around 1 ton are carried by men through the city with fast speed as a race.
Yamaga Toro Festival (山鹿灯籠まつり)
Date: 15–16 August
Yamaga Toro Festival (山鹿灯籠まつり) is held at the famous Onsen town: Yamaga in Kumamoto Prefecture. The unique dance festival features the fireworks event held on the first day (15 August) and the main event, Sennin Toro Odori held on the second day (16th), featuring 1,000 female dancers in traditional costume and lanterns on their heads, dancing all night long.
How did you enjoy the list? Summer is the most exciting time of the year in Japan as numbers of special events are held across the country! For more info about events/things to do in summer in Japan, please check out listed articles, too!