Japan’s vibrant summer festivals, or “Natsu Matsuri,” play a crucial role in showcasing the country’s rich cultural tapestry. These events draw tourists from around the globe, eager to dive into the unique fusion of tradition, community, and celebration. To help visitors plan their journey, the schedule of summer festivals in Japan is meticulously organized across the summer months, presenting a rich array of cultural experiences.

Firstly, the heart of these festivals lies in their traditional performances. Experience energetic Bon Odori dances, resonant Taiko drum beats, and awe-inspiring fireworks at the event. Spectacular night awaits! The schedule of summer festivals in Japan ensures a bustling lineup from dawn till dusk, offering endless engagement for attendees.

Moreover, the culinary delights at these festivals are a feast for the senses. Food stalls brim with mouthwatering Japanese street food, from sizzling Yakitori to savory Takoyaki, and the sweet, icy bliss of Kakigori. The vibrant scene is further beautified by attendees donning colorful Yukatas, thereby enhancing the visual feast of the festivals.

Furthermore, these summer gatherings not only enhance community bonds but also bring together residents and tourists alike in joyous celebration. Additionally, the schedule of summer festivals in Japan includes communal activities such as parades, lantern floating, and shrine visits, offering a glimpse into Japan’s communal spirit and traditions.

For those exploring Japan, the schedule of summer festivals in Japan offers a portal to the nation’s profound cultural legacy. Experiencing the majestic fireworks, participating in Bon Odori dances, or simply soaking in the festive ambiance and culinary delights, the summer festivals of Japan promise an indelible journey through the heart of Japanese culture.

Schedule

The Name of Festival Place Date (2023)
the Hiroshima Flower Festival Hiroshima 10th, June
the Okayama Momotaro Festival Okayama 8th, July
the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Hakata 13th – 15th, July
the Tenjin Matsuri Osaka 24th – 25th, July
the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival Tokyo 29th, July
the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri Aomori 2nd – 7th, August
the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri Sendai 6th – 8 th, August
the Hakodate Port Festival Hokkaido 1st – 5th, August
the Sapporo Summer Festival Hokkaido 21th, July – 16th, August
the Hokkai bon-odori Festival Hokkaido 11th – 16th, August
the Gozan no Okuribi festival Kyoto 16th, August
the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri Osaka 16th – 17th, August
the Asakusa Samba Carnival Tokyo 17th, August
the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival Nagasaki 7th – 9th, August

The Schedule can be changed somtimes, so you need to check the timeline by yourself just in case.

 

Festivals & the Attractions

Tokyo

Tokyo hosts numerous festivals year-round. Moreover, some iconic ones occur in summer. Here’s a list of popular summer festivals:

  • Sumida River Fireworks Festival
    Held along Sumida River, it features thousands of fireworks on the last Saturday of July.
  • Kanda Matsuri
    Tokyo’s oldest festival, featuring parades and traditional arts in odd-numbered years.
  • Sanja Matsuri
    Energizing performances at Asakusa Shrine on the third weekend of May.
  • Tokyo Bay Fireworks Festival
    Spectacular views and dazzling displays in August.
  • Awa Odori (Tokyo Version)
    Traditional dance from Tokushima Prefecture in August.
  • Asakusa Samba Carnival
    Colorfully clad dancers fill Asakusa’s streets at the end of August.

These festivals showcase Tokyo’s cultural diversity and provide unforgettable experiences for summer tourists.

Upcoming events in Tokyo

Sumidagawa

Tohoku Region

The Tohoku region is known for its diverse festivals, reflecting its rich culture and traditions. Here is a list of some prominent festivals held in the Tohoku region:

  • Aomori Nebuta Festival
    Held in Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture every August, this festival is famous for its parade of giant Nebuta floats. The colorful floats and the powerful beats of the drums are its main attractions.
  • Akita Kanto Festival
    Taking place in Akita City, Akita Prefecture every August, this festival features Kanto, long bamboo poles with numerous paper lanterns hanging from them, beautifully illuminating the night sky.
  • Sendai Tanabata Festival
    Held in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture every August, this festival is known for its vibrant decorations and events based on the Japanese Tanabata legend.
  • Yamagata Hanagasa Festival
    In Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture, this festival is celebrated every August with dancers wearing flower hats parading through the city streets, showcasing traditional dances and music.
  • Morioka Sansa Odori Festival
    This energetic Sansa dance festival takes place in Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture every August, with the local community coming together to participate.
  • Soma Nomaoi
    Held in Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture every July, this traditional festival features horseback samurai in elaborate costumes chasing wild horses, a display of skill and heritage.

These festivals exemplify the diverse culture and history of the Tohoku region, offering a glimpse into the local lifestyle and traditions. Each festival has its own unique history and traditions, providing unforgettable experiences for visitors.

Festival in AKITA

 

Nebuta

Hokkaido

Hokkaido, with its unique natural environment and culture, hosts a variety of festivals. Here are some of the most famous ones:

  • Sapporo Snow Festival
    Held in winter, this is one of the most famous events in Hokkaido, attracting tourists from both Japan and abroad. The festival features snow and ice sculptures displayed mainly in Odori Park.
  • Hakodate Port Festival
    This summer festival in Hakodate celebrates the history and culture of Hakodate Port. It includes traditional elements such as mikoshi (portable shrine) parades and dances.
  • Yosakoi Soran Festival
    Held in Sapporo, this festival combines the “Yosakoi Festival” from Kochi Prefecture with the Hokkaido folk song “Soran Bushi.” It is known for its energetic dances.
  • Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
    In Otaru, the canal area and historical buildings are illuminated by snow and ice lanterns, creating a beautiful and enchanting atmosphere.
  • Furano Festival
    Held in summer in Furano, this festival celebrates local agriculture with fireworks, parades, and more.
  • Obihiro Ban’ei Horse Racing
    Unique to Obihiro, this event features races of horses pulling heavy sleds, symbolizing Hokkaido’s agricultural culture.

These festivals reflect the rich nature and culture of Hokkaido, offering visitors a chance to experience the region’s diverse traditions and characteristics. When visiting Hokkaido, checking the schedule of these festivals and experiencing local celebrations is highly recommended.

Festivals in Hokkaido

Hokkaido Festival

Kansai Region

The Kansai region hosts a multitude of captivating festivals throughout the year. Here are some of the most renowned ones:

  • Gion Matsuri in Kyoto
    Held in July, this festival is among the most famous and historic in Kyoto. Spanning approximately a month, various events take place, with the Yamaboko Junko procession being a highlight that attracts many tourists.
  • Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka
    Experience the vibrant Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka every July, renowned for its water and fire festivities, including Funatogyo and spectacular fireworks. Don’t miss out!
  • Akita Kanto Matsuri
    Don’t mistake Akita Kanto Matsuri, held in Akita Prefecture, as a Kansai festival. Recognize its unique charm and cultural significance separately.
  • Sakura Festival at Osaka Castle Park
    Embrace the Sakura Festival at Osaka Castle Park, a breathtaking celebration of cherry blossoms. Witness the enchanting nighttime illumination amidst the park’s historic surroundings.
  • Nara Tokae
    Illuminate Nara’s historic sites with thousands of candles at Nara Tokae in August. Explore the magical ambiance at Nara Park and Todai-ji Temple.
  • Himeji Castle Cherry Blossom Festival
    Marvel at the picturesque scene of cherry blossoms at Himeji Castle’s festival in spring. Experience the enchanting blend of nature and architecture at this iconic landmark.

These are just a few of the festivals held in the Kansai region. There are many more local festivals, smaller in scale, yet deeply cherished by the community. These festivals reflect the rich culture and history of each area, while also offering unforgettable experiences to visitors.

Summer Festivals in Kansai

Daimonji

Chugoku Region

In the Chugoku region of Japan, a variety of festivals are held, ranging from traditional to modern events. Here are some of the most famous ones:

  • Okayama Korakuen Garden Summer Evening Opening
    Held every summer, this event illuminates one of Japan’s three great gardens, Korakuen, in a fantastical light. During this period, various events are held within the garden, captivating visitors with their charm.
  • Bitchu Takahashi Gion Festival
    This festival, held every July, has a history of about 400 years and is designated as an important intangible folk cultural property of the country. The procession of magnificent floats through the streets is a sight to behold.
  • Tsuyama Festival
    Continuing the tradition since the Edo period, this festival is held every May. Participants dressed in colorful costumes and the powerful performances of drummers are highlights.
  • Hiroshima Minato Yume Fireworks Festival
    Held in August each year, this fireworks festival decorates the night sky over Hiroshima Port with beautiful fireworks, attracting crowds of spectators.
  • Onomichi Suigun Festival
    Set against the scenic backdrop of Onomichi Waterway, this spring festival features a boat parade and a fireworks display.
  • Tottori Sand Dunes Festival
    Held at Japan’s largest sand dunes, the Tottori Sand Dunes, this summer festival offers a variety of unique experiences. These include a sand sculpture contest and sports events utilizing the dunes.
  • Izumo Taisha Shrine Kami Mukae Festival
    Conducted every October, this festival is based on the myth that deities from across Japan gather at Izumo Taisha Shrine. The sacred atmosphere of the festival leaves a profound impression on participants.

These festivals offer excellent opportunities to experience the rich culture and history of the Chugoku region. Each festival showcases the unique characteristics of its area with programs that provide unforgettable memories to visitors.

 

Itsukushima

Kyushu

In the Kyushu region, various festivals are held throughout the year. Especially during the summer, many traditional festivals take place. Here is a list of some notable festivals held in the Kyushu region:

  • Hakata Gion Yamakasa in Fukuoka
    Held in July, this festival is known for its brave race of decorated floats called “Yamakasa.” Men from Hakata carry these heavy floats and race through the city streets.
  • Nagasaki Kunchi in Nagasaki
    Held in October, this festival is the autumn grand festival of Suwa Shrine, the guardian deity of Nagasaki. It features dancers in colorful costumes and exotic floats, reflecting Nagasaki’s international history.
  • Karatsu Kunchi in Saga
    Held in November, this festival features magnificent floats parading through the city. It is a traditional festival registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  • Yatsushiro Myoken Festival in Kumamoto
    Held in April, this festival is the annual grand festival of Yatsushiro Myoken Shrine, featuring gorgeous floats parading through the city.
  • Satsumasendai Festival in Kagoshima
    Held in August, this festival is known for its parade of floats adorned with colorful handmade lanterns through the city streets.
  • Miyazaki Jingu Grand Festival in Miyazaki
    Held in October, this festival takes place at Miyazaki Jingu Shrine and includes traditional rituals and gagaku (ancient imperial court music and dances) performances.
  • Kunisaki Ontayaki Festival in Oita
    Held in May, this festival features powerful performances by bearers of the portable shrines, showcasing their strength and spirit.

These festivals offer a fantastic opportunity to experience the rich culture and traditions of Kyushu. Each festival reflects the unique history and culture of its region, providing unforgettable experiences for visitors.

Hakatagionyamakasa

This article introduces a wide array of summer festivals held in various regions of Japan, inviting you to dive into the unique cultural experiences each offers.

Additionally, it is essential to review the schedule of summer festivals in Japan for the specific year you intend to visit and make any required modifications to your itinerary.

Enjoy your summer festival adventure in Japan!


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About the Author

Sayuri

I have been travelling by campervan to various areas all over Japan for more than 5 years. My goal is to visit all 47 prefectures in Japan! Just 12 more prefectures to go and I'll have accomplished it! I hope I can share some of information of wonderful places in Japan.

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