8 Recommended Summer Festivals You Should go in Japan!

8 Recommended Summer Festivals You Should go in Japan!

Japan is a country that lives for its festivals, at any time of year! Barely a week goes by without at least one festival, or matsuri as we know them, occurring somewhere in the country. But it’s at our summer festivals where we really let our hair down and get out in the streets and at the temples. This is a short guide to some of the more colorful and lively summer festivals in Japan.



 

8 Recommended Summer Festivals You Should go in Japan!

 

1. Gion Matsuri

8 Recommended Summer Festivals You Should go in Japan! Gion Matsuri

Designated a World Intangible Cultural Heritage, Gion Matsuri in historic Kyoto is the most famous summer festival in Japan, running throughout July. The excitement builds over three days from July 14-16 as the streets are closed to traffic and decorated with lanterns, and people in yukata prepare for the exciting Yamaboko Float procession on the 17th and 24th.

 

2. Awa Odori Matsuri

8 Recommended Summer Festivals You Should go in Japan! Awa Odori Matsuri

The equally famous Awa Odori festival is part of the Obon rites that, every year, welcome the spirits of the dead, and takes place nightly in Tokushima, Shikoku, from August 12-15. Dancers, in yukata (light cotton kimono) and straw hats, parade through the streets of the city to the rhythm of shamisen, drums and flute. It is a joyful and colourful spectacle!

 

3. Aomori Nebuta Matsuri

8 Recommended Summer Festivals You Should go in Japan! Aomori Nebuta Matsuri

Travelling to the far north of Honshu, the Nebuta festival takes place in Aomori City from August 2-7 and is now, like Gion Matsuri, a World Intangible Cultural Heritage and a top summer festival in Japan. Each night, the parade begins at sunset, led by dancers carrying illuminated and highly decorative floats and goes on for several hours.

 

4. Tenjin Matsuri

8 Recommended Summer Festivals You Should go in Japan! Tenjin Matsuri

Osaka is home to one of the biggest boat festivals in the world, the 1000 year old Tenjin Matsuri held at the Tenman Shrine on July 24th and 25th. The festival culminates in some 3000 people in period court costume carrying portable shrines around the city, before boarding 100 lantern-lit boats for a procession up the Okawa river from the Tenmabashi bridge towards the festival’s fireworks finale.

 

5. Mitama Matsuri

8 Recommended Summer Festivals You Should go in Japan! Mitama Matsuri

This is one of the best known Tokyo summer festivals. From July 13-17, the various paths and alleyways of Yasukuni Shrine are lit up with around 20,000 lanterns, lending a festive atmosphere to the temple. Everywhere can be seen stalls selling traditional festival food and people dressed in yukata. Of course, there’s a float procession, traditional dancing and music, and various other entertainments.

 

6. Asakusa Samba Carnival

8 Recommended Summer Festivals You Should go in Japan! Asakusa Samba Carnival

(flickr By extremematsuri)

But Tokyo’s summer festivals are not all yukata and temple traditions. Asakusa, better-known for its temples and Geisha, plays host to the annual Samba festival at the end of August. This is one of the most colorful and lively summer spectacles, attracting some half a million visitors to celebrate the close cultural ties between Japan and Brazil.

 

7. Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi

8 Recommended Summer Festivals You Should go in Japan! Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi

Held in Harajuku and Yoyogi park over two days in late August, Genki Matsuri is another colorful and lively dance festival. Yosakoi is an energetic style of festival dancing that combines traditional Japanese dance movements with more modern musical styles. The Genki Matsuri is not to be missed!

 

8. Tokyo Summer Fireworks (Hanabi)

8 Recommended Summer Festivals You Should go in Japan! Tokyo Summer Fireworks (Hanabi)

Many summer festivals in Japan feature fireworks, and some of the best are in Tokyo.

Sumidagawa hanabi (last Saturday, July) is the world’s oldest fireworks festival, attracting a million visitors. Tokyo Bay Fireworks (2nd Saturday, August) is best seen from Odaiba, or Harumi Pier on the other side of the Bay. Then there’s Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival (start of August), and Tamagawa Hanabi (end of August), a large fireworks display over the Tamagawa river (the two banks of the river competing for the best show).

 

Conclusion

As you can see, there are lots of colourful summer festivals to see in Japan, and this is just a small selection. But wherever you may decide to travel to this summer, make your plans well in advance as festival time is always very busy for both accommodation and transportation. Have a genki summer!

 

8 Recommended Summer Festivals You Should go in Japan!

1. Gion Matsuri
2. Awa Odori Matsuri
3. Aomori Nebuta Matsuri
4. Tenjin Matsuri
5. Mitama Matsuri
6. Asakusa Samba Carnival
7. Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi
8. Tokyo Summer Fireworks (Hanabi)