Festivals In Tokyo

Here is a list of some of the best festivals / holidays in the Tokyo area.
There are too many festivals all over Japan to write each one (there are even too many just within the Tokyo area). But here are some of the ones that I recommend.
I’ll add any that I may have forgotten as I remember them.

If the festival’s name is written below in red, that means it’s in the Tokyo area. Ones written in green are outside Tokyo, but recommended.

If you have any questions about any Japanese festivals / holidays (how to get there, more information about the festival, etc), please click here to contact me.

Choose a month:

JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

JANUARY

  • January 1-3: お正月 (New Years)
    New Years is the biggest holiday in Japan. Besides having a traditional dinner with all the relatives, many people go to local temples for the events there.This is one of the two times a year that the royal family greet the public at the Emperor’s Palace.If you visit Tokyo Disneyland, you might see Mickey and Minnie Mouse wearing 着物 (Japanese kimono).Also, many stores sell 福袋 (“Lucky Bag” or “Happy Bag”) which are bags full of items from the store sold at a special price. You can’t look inside the bag until after you pay for it…which many people consider part of the fun.
  • Early January: New Year Grand Kabuki
    In the famous 歌舞伎座 (Kabuki Theater) in 銀座 (Ginza, Tokyo).
  • Early January: New Year Grand Sumo
    At the 国技館 (Sumo Arena) in 両国 (Ryogoku, Tokyo).
  • January 6: 出初式 (Firefighter’s Festival)
    An elaborate demonstration by Tokyo’s firefighters using ladders, firehoses, and firetrucks.
  • Second Monday of January: 成人の日 (Adults Day)
    This is a holiday to celebrate young people entering adulthood. People who just turned 20 years old (or will become 20 this year) wear a 着物 (kimono) or suit and attend a ceremony. Afterwards, many young people in kimono can be seen going to an amusement park or somewhere to celebrate together.
  • Late January or early-mid February: 中国の新年 (Chinese New Year)
    In 横浜中華街 (Yokohama Chinatown), 中国の新年 (Chinese New Year) is celebrated with an elaborate festival including the famous Chinese dragon dance.
    Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year. But it’s always somewhere from about Jan 21 – Feb 21.

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FEBRUARY

  • Late January or early-mid February: 中国の新年 (Chinese New Year)
    In 横浜中華街 (Yokohama Chinatown), 中国の新年 (Chinese New Year) is celebrated with an elaborate festival including the famous Chinese dragon dance.
    Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year. But it’s always somewhere from about Jan 21 – Feb 21.
  • Early February: 札幌雪祭 (Sapporo Snow Festival)
    The internationally famous snow festival on Japan’s northern island with huge ice sculptures.
  • February 3: 節分 (Setsubun)
    Many temples in Japan have sumo wrestlers or other celebrities throwing soybeans at the crowd.
    (See my FAQ about it here.)

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MARCH

  • March 3: ひな祭 (Princess Festival / Doll Festival)
    Sometimes still referred to as Girls Day because this is a festival / holiday for daughters. Homes set up elaborate doll sets.
    (See my FAQ entry about it here).
  • March 18: 金竜の舞い (Golden Dragon Festival)
    A long, golden dragon is paraded elaborately through the temple grounds at 浅草寺 (Sensou-ji Temple) in 浅草 (Asakusa).

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APRIL

  • Early April: 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing)
    Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) are very important to the Japanese.
    Cherry Blossom Viewing involves setting up a picnic under the trees and enjoying the view. In Tokyo, 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing) is in early – mid April.
    (I wrote three posts about our Cherry Blossom Viewing in April 2008: here and here and here).
  • Third Saturday in April: 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery)
    This actually takes place a few times a year and in a few different locations around Tokyo…including Kamakura, Meiji Jingu, Takadanobaba, and Nikko.
    In April, it can be seen at Sumida-gawa.
    This event involves archers on horseback running full gallop down a course and shooting arrows at three targets along the course!
    (My post about it is here).

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MAY

  • Early May: 座間大凧祭 (Zama Giant Kite Festival)
    Teams fly giant 900kg kites.
  • Mid-May: 三社祭 (Sanja Festival)
    One of the biggest festivals in Tokyo.
    (I wrote a post about it…here).
  • Mid-May: 神田祭 (Kanda Festival)
    Another one of the biggest festivals in Tokyo.
    (I wrote a post about it…here).

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JUNE

  • Early June: 開港記念日 (Yokohama Port Opening Festival)
    A festival to mark the opening of Yokohama Port.
  • Mid-June: 山王祭 (Sannou Festival)
    A festival with a 神輿 (portable shrines) parade. One of the biggest festivals in Tokyo. Only occurs on even-numbered years (such as 2008, 2010, etc).
  • Mid-June: 糸満ハーレー (Okinawan Dragon Boat Race)
    An elaborate boat race in Japan’s southern island.

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JULY

    • Early July: 湘南平塚七夕祭り (Shounan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival)
      In 神奈川県 (Kanagawa Prefecture), this is one of Japan’s largest Tanabata festivals.
      (Read my FAQ about 七夕 (Tanabata / “Star Festival”) here.)
    • Early to late July: 京都祇園祭 (Kyoto Gion Festival)
      This is Kyoto’s biggest festival. It lasts all July…but the highlight is mid-July, when there’s a parade of 32 traditional floats called Yamahoko.
    • First Sunday in July: 成田祇園祭 (Narita Gion Festival)
      A similiar festival to the one in Kyoto. This one’s in Narita, Chiba (90 min north of Tokyo).
    • July 13th – 16th every year: みたま祭 (Mitama Festival)
      A big festival at 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) to remember the deceased.
      See my post about it here.
    • Second Sunday in July: 灯篭流し (Tourou-nagashi Festival)
      At the Imperial Palace (and other places around the country), illuminated paper lanterns are set afloat to guide the deceased back for the Obon holidays.

Tourou-nagashi

  • Late July: うちわ祭り (Paper Fan Festival)
    In 埼玉県 (Saitama Prefecture), a festival with a parade of floats and paper fans.
  • Last Saturday of July: 大阪天神祭 (Osaka Tenjin Festival)
    One of Japan’s three biggest festivals. At Osaka’s 天満宮 (Tenmanguu Grand Shrine) with 神輿 (Mikoshi portable shrines) and fireworks.
  • Late July to early August: 花火大会 (Fireworks shows)
    Summer fireworks shows happen all over Japan, but here’s a list of the main ones in the Tokyo area (the shows usually start around 7:00 PM and end around 8:30 PM (times vary slightly (you can ask me if you’re unsure of the time or location)).:
  • Yokohama Fireworks Show – Third Sunday of July
  • Katsushika Fireworks Show – Fourth Tuesday of July
  • Sumida-gawa Fireworks Show – Last Saturday of July
  • Teganuma Fireworks Show – First Saturday of August
  • Ageo Fireworks Show – First Saturday of August
  • Atsugi Fireworks Show – First Saturday of August
  • Edogawa Fireworks Show – First Saturday of August
  • Teganuma Fireworks Show – First Saturday of August
  • Last weekend in July: フジロックフェスティバル (Fuji Rock Festival)
    A popular music festival in 新潟 (Niigata).
  • Late July: サマーソニック (Summer Sonic Music Festival)
    A popular music festival in both 東京 (Tokyo) and 大阪 (Osaka).
  • Late July to early August: 上野夏祭 (Ueno Summer Festival)
    A regular Japanese summer festival with 金魚すくい (scooping for goldfish), Japanese food booths, etc…but also has ice sculptures.

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AUGUST

  • Late July to early August: 花火大会 (Fireworks shows)
    Summer fireworks shows happen all over Japan, but here’s a list of the main ones in the Tokyo area (the shows usually start around 7:00 PM and end around 8:30 PM (times vary slightly (you can ask meif you’re unsure of the time or location)).:

    • Yokohama Fireworks Show – Third Sunday of July
    • Katsushika Fireworks Show – Fourth Tuesday of July
    • Sumida-gawa Fireworks Show – Last Saturday of July
    • Teganuma Fireworks Show – First Saturday of August
    • Ageo Fireworks Show – First Saturday of August
    • Atsugi Fireworks Show – First Saturday of August
    • Edogawa Fireworks Show – First Saturday of August
    • Teganuma Fireworks Show – First Saturday of August
  • Late July to early August: 上野夏祭 (Ueno Summer Festival)
    A regular Japanese summer festival with 金魚すくい (scooping for goldfish), Japanese food booths, etc…but also has ice sculptures.
  • The first Sunday in August EVERY FOUR YEARS (2008, 2012, 2016, etc): 脚折雨乞い行事 (Suneori-Amagoi Festival)
    In 埼玉県鶴ヶ島市 (Tsurugashima city, Saitama Prefecture), a giant dragon float is carried by 300 men through the town and into a pond. This is a centuries old local custom for this small town to bring rain for the local farmers.
  • August 6: Peace Ceremony
    At the Peace Memorial in 広島 (Hiroshima), this ceremony is to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. Thousands of paper cranes are set afloat into the river as a symbol of peace.
  • Early August: ねぶた祭 (Nebuta Festival)
    A lively festival in 青森県 (Aomori Prefecture) that has a unique dance and illuminated floats of famous Japanese folklore.
    (Every year, the Mitama Festival in Tokyo has a Nebuta Festival show with floats and dancers from Aomori. My YouTube videos of it are here and here.)
  • Third weekend in August: 深川八幡祭 (Fukagawa-hachiman Festival)
    One of the three biggest festivals in Tokyo. Includes a crowd throwing water on the people carrying the 神輿 (portable shrines).
    This festival occurs every year, but every three years is the big full version (2008, 2011 2012 (2011’s festival was postponed to 2012 due to the March 11 earthquake), 2014 2018, etc).
    (Click here to see my post about this festival.)
  • Fourth weekend in August: 麻布十番祭 (Azabu-jyuuban Festival)
    A very popular (ie: crowded) Japanese summer festival with traditional Japanese food booths and 盆踊り (Bon dancing).
    (A short walk away is Roppongi Hills 盆踊り (Bon dancing) festival, usually held on the same days).
  • Last Saturday in August: 浅草サンバカーニバル (Asakusa Samba Carnival)
    A festival of Brazil’s Samba dancers in the old, traditional town of Asakusa, Tokyo.

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SEPTEMBER

  • First weekend in September: 北沢八幡神社秋祭 (Kitazawa Hachiman Shrine Autumn Festival)
    Traditional dancing and 神輿 (portable shrines).
  • First weekend in September: 洗足池八幡宮秋祭 (Senzokuike Hachimanguu Autumn Festival)
    Traditional dancing and 神輿 (portable shrines).
  • Second weekend in September: 鶴岡八幡宮祭 (Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Festival)
    流鏑馬 (Horseback archery) show in 神奈川県鎌倉市 (Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture).
  • Late September: ふくろ祭 (Fukuro Festival)
    A festival to promote tourism to Japan in 池袋 (Ikebukuro, Tokyo). Includes portable shrines, Taiko drumming, and a Karate demonstration.
  • Late September: 国慶節 (Chinese National Foundation Day)
    In 横浜中華街 (Yokohama Chinatown), a festival with a Lion Dance and firecrackers to celebrate China’s founding.

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OCTOBER

  • Early October: 佐原祭 (Sawara Festival)
    Includes a parade of giant figures from Japan’s history.
  • Mid-October: 木場の角乗り (Kiba Log-rolling show)
    Lumberjacks in the town of 木場 (Kiba, Tokyo) put on a log-rolling show.
  • Mid-October: ラウドパーク (Loudpark Heavy Metal Music Festival)
    A two-day music festival featuring some of the biggest names in heavy metal, such as Megadeth, Dio, Slayer, Motley Crue, Slipknot, etc.
    Click here for the “Loudpark ’09” website (in Japanese).

    Loudpark ’06

    Loudpark ’07

    Loudpark ’08

    Loudpark 2009

    Loudpark 2010

    Loudpark 2011

  • Third weekend in October: 川越祭 (Kawagoe Festival)
    Huge floats are paraded through this very traditional area just north of Tokyo. In the evening, the floats “battle” to pass when they meet each other.
    Click here to see my post about this festival (with photos).
  • Last weekend in October: 川崎ハロウィン (Kawasaki Halloween)
    This event has a Halloween costume parade (not free), a costume contest, and children can “Trick ‘R Treat” at participating stores to get candy.

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NOVEMBER

  • November 3: 東京時代祭 (Tokyo Era Festival)
    In 浅草 (Asakusa), there’s an long elaborate parade with people dressed in costumes representing various parts of Tokyo’s history. (To see my blog post about it: click here.)
  • Early – mid November: 七五三 (7-5-3 Festival)
    A holiday for girls aged three and seven and boys aged five years old.
    Children of these ages are taken to shrines to be blessed for a long, healthy life by their parents and grandparents. The girls wear a fancy 着物 (kimono) and the boys wear either a 着物 (kimono) or a suit.
    They are given special candy and usually taken to a photo studio afterwards to have their portraits taken.

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DECEMBER

  • December 31: なまはげ (Namahage)
    In 秋田県 (Akita Prefecture), villagers dressed as boogeymen visit homes that have children and ask if there are any misbehaving children in the home, and they warn the children not to be bad.
    Almost always results in the children crying, until their parents assure the boogeyman that the children don’t misbehave.
  • December 31: New Years
    At midnight on New Years Eve, many Japanese go to a temple for the ceremony in which the temple priest rings the temple bell 108 times to signify the 108 sins of man in Buddhist teachings.
    Also, on New Years Day, the first meal that Japanese people eat is supposed to be noodles. And then many Japanese visit a temple or shrine within the first week of the New Year for the numerous New Years traditions that Japanese have.

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59 Responses to “Festivals In Tokyo”

  1. Thessauron November 20, 2015 at 11:16 pm #

    Japan is really a land of festivals and celebrations.:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • tokyo5 November 20, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

      Yes. Many great festivals / events all year round!

      Like

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