Summer Festivals in Japan – Japan is known for its unique culture, captivating music, and undeniable charm. However, one season that makes Japan truly special is summer, not only because of its warm weather but also because of the lively festivals that adorn cities across the country. With its rich cultural heritage, Japan invites both tourists and locals to celebrate summer in a truly distinctive way.
5 Summer Festivals in Japan
From colorful parades to dazzling fireworks, Japanese summer festivals offer unforgettable experiences. Let’s explore five summer festivals you must witness when in the Land of the Rising Sun.
1. Sanno Matsuri Tokyo
Sanno Matsuri Tokyo
The Sanno Festival is one of the largest celebrations held in Japan’s capital, Tokyo. Uniquely, this festival occurs only in even-numbered years. Thousands of participants don traditional costumes while accompanying musicians who perform on ornate floats and mikoshi (decorated palanquins).
The festival kicks off at 8 a.m. from Hie Shrine and continues with a procession through downtown Tokyo until late in the day. Typically, the festival takes place from June 7 to June 17.
2. Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, Aomori
Aomori Nebuta Matsuri
If you happen to be in Japan during the summer, a visit to Aomori to witness the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri is a must. This festival is as vibrant as any other summer celebration and is regarded as the largest festival in the Tohoku region.
Here, you will see a captivating parade featuring gigantic paper-made warrior figures. This is a reference to the legend of Shogun Sakanoue no Tamuramaro and his famous warriors who placed enormous lanterns on hilltops while waiting to attack the Emishi people.
The excitement of this festival is further enhanced as you can join the parade wearing haneto costumes.
3. Awa Dance Festival
As the name suggests, this festival is perfect for dance enthusiasts. The Awa Dance Festival, held in Awa Prefecture, Japan, is a celebration where thousands of Japanese dancers gather to commemorate Obon. The festival takes place from August 12 to August 15. You will witness mesmerizing dance groups with their distinctive moves.
4. Nagaoka Firework Festival, Nagaoka
Nagaoka Firework Festival
The fireworks festival in Nagaoka is the largest in Japan. Held from August 2 to August 3, this festival treats the audience to a spectacular display of fireworks, with a diameter of 650 meters, forming various patterns, including flowers. The festival originally began as a symbol of Japan’s recovery after World War II.
5. Tenjin Matsuri, Osaka
The Tenjin Festival is a celebration that has been ongoing for over a millennium. Centered around Tenmangu Shrine in Osaka, the festival encompasses both land and water celebrations.
The land part of the festival features thousands of participants donning traditional attire and parading with mikoshi (decorated palanquins) and court-style costumes from the 12th to 18th centuries.
Meanwhile, the water part involves participants boarding boats at Tenmabashi Bridge and sailing along the river. As the sun sets, fires are lit on the boats, creating a spectacular sight. At night, you can also enjoy a breathtaking fireworks display.
Summer in Japan is the perfect time to celebrate the country’s cultural richness and traditions. From the grand Sanno Festival in Tokyo to the dazzling fireworks at the Nagaoka Festival, each festival has its unique charm.
While these festivals may have different themes and stories, they all share one similarity: the spirit of celebrating a joyful summer. So, if you plan to visit Japan during the summer, be sure to include one of these five unforgettable summer festivals in your travel itinerary. Enjoy a spectacular summer in Japan!