From July to August, festivals are held throughout Japan to celebrate the summer season and commemorate historical events. One of the most attractive things about the Japanese summer is the traditional “Matsuri” festival held throughout the country during the season. From traditional regional events such as the Nebuta Festival to spectacular fireworks such as the Tokyo Sumida River Fireworks, there are a number of special events not to be missed during the summer in July and August. Today we listed the best summer festivals in Japan. Find out what are the best ways to have these festivals and what are the most famous!
List of Top Summer Festivals in Japan
1. Gion Matsuri
This is the festival of the Yasaka Shrine, held in Kyoto throughout the month of July. It consists of many events; from festive evenings to the famous swimming processions that take place on July 17th. The swimmers of the big run are massive and tastefully decorated, worth a look in person. Images do not complete the immense or detailed construction justice. You can even enter some of the swimmers before they parade. The procession itself takes place between 9:00 and 11:30. Gion Matsuri dates back to 869 and has an almost uninterrupted history. This famous summer festival in Japan was originally held to reassure the gods after the outbreak of the disease.
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2. Aomori Nebuta Festival
The Nebuta Festival is one of the largest Japanese festivals held in the Aomori Prefecture. The festival features huge swimmers, called “Nabuta,” in the form of brave warriors and dancers, called “Haneto”. This spectacular and dynamic summer festival in Japan attracts more than 3 million people a year. There will be no parade on the last night (7th), instead, there will be spectacular fireworks. You will also find free and paid reservations along the route. You can also join the skip-like dance by buying or renting some of the traditional haneto dance costumes at local shops around the city.
When: August 2021
3. Akita Kanto Festival
The Kanto Festival is a traditional event praying for a good harvest, held for 280 years in Akita Prefecture. More than 200 lantern bamboo poles (each column weighing up to 50 kg) are carried around the city day and night. This top summer festival in Japan‘s name means “pole lamp festival”. It will be held in Akita from 3 to 6 August. Its main feature is the performers who balance the long bamboo poles (Kanto) with the lights that appear when they move their position. These performers add more and more extensions to the bar until they reach their maximum height. These performances take place at night, but there are also daytime events and activities at the Agora Plaza.
When: August 2021
4. Hanagasa Festival
The Hanagasa Festival is one of the largest summer festivals in Tohoku, held in Yamagata Prefecture. The event will feature a huge dance parade in the city, with female dancers wearing “Hanagasa” hats, which are special products of the prefecture decorated with “Benibana” (saffron).
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5. Sendai Tanabata Festival
The Sendai Tanabata Festival is traditionally a “Star Festival”. Together with the Kanto Festival and the Nebuta Festival, it is one of three major festivals in the Tohoku region. The festival will feature thousands of colorful ribbons adorning the city’s shopping arcade, and the big fireworks will start the night before (August 5). This best summer festival in Japan will be held in downtown Sendai from August 6th to 7th. It is known for thousands of brightly colored ribbons that adorn the city. They are all made from handicrafts by local businesses, schools, and community organizations. In the middle of this color are many stages and grocery stores, as well as plenty of live music and traditional dance performances
6. Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival
The Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival is one of the largest Tanabata festivals in Japan, attracting more than 3 million visitors annually. During the festival, the street will be adorned with plenty of colorful, huge streams and hundreds of stalls selling traditional festival snacks and drinks. Hiratsuka City is located in Kanagawa Prefecture, within 1 hour from Tokyo.
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7. Mitama Festival
The Mitama Festival is one of the largest summer festivals in Japan, held at Yasukuni Shrine, Chiyoda Ward. The festival will feature 30,000 lanterns dedicated to the spirit of the deceased during World War II. There will be a number of vendors offering traditional street food, souvenirs, and attractions.
8. Tenjin Matsuri
Tenjin Matsuri literally means “festival of the gods”. It will be held in Osaka on July 24 and 25. This popular summer festival in Japan is more than 1000 years old. It was dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, the Japanese god of science and learning. It begins on the 24th, with morning prayers at Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, as well as a wonderful performance by taiko drummers and a Danjiri dragon dancer. The second day is full of performances and parades, festivals in summer kimonos. All of these events are limited by a wonderful fireworks display.
9. Tokushima Awa Odori
This festival is held in Tokushima in mid-August, usually from 12 to 15 August. Be sure to check for the latest information to get the exact date for that year. The festival welcomes the souls of the ancestors. This phrase is best known through Japan: “This is a fool who dances and a fool who watches! If you are both fools, you can have fun dancing too! “The festival dates back to 1587, when it was held to celebrate the completion of Tokushima Castle. During the day, you can watch dozens of dancers perform on stage, while at night the dance curves upwards and even welcomes spectators.
When: Mid August
10. Sanno Matsuri
The city of Tokyo hosts several well-known summer festivals every year. Sanno Matsuri is believed to be one of the three most famous festivals in Tokyo, alongside Kanda Matsuri and Fukagawa Matsuri. This most popular summer festival in Japan will be held in Tokyo in mid-June for a couple of years. Its main event is a great parade that winds through central Tokyo, including Tokyo Station, Ginza, and the National Diet Building. Usually, the procession of Matsuri begins and ends at the Hie Shrine. It’s much smaller than many other summer parades across Japan, but the city has been held since the Edo era.
When: Mid June
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Hope you enjoyed the brief list of the top 5 summer festivals in Japan that offer umpteen beach sports and fabulous scenic views of the city. There are various famous spots at the mentioned Festivals of All Seasons Celebrated in Japan which delivers many attractions. For more engaging blogs like these head on to our other blogs and ping us in the comment sections below if you hold any queries regarding the travel destinations.