10 Summer Festivals to check out in Tokyo

Festivals are a great way to usher in the summertime in Japan. Many big festivals happen throughout the entire summer so do take note of the time and date before making specific plans to travel. Festivals allow not just the locals, but people from all around the world to watch and be a part of the Japanese culture.

1. Mitama Matsuri

Mitama Matsuri is a traditional festival held at the Yasukuni Shrine for 4 days. The pathway leading to the main hall is decorated with roughly 30,000 lanterns, showcasing an amazing scenery. There are also stalls offering festival snacks and games and there are also dances. (Mid July)

2. Sumida River Fireworks Festival

One of Japan’s biggest fireworks events, this annual fireworks festival features 22,000 fireworks and attracts over 1 million visitors every year. Join all of them to watch the night sky light up. (End July)

3. Shinjuku Eisa Festival

This festival features an energetic parade of local dance groups in traditional costume and musical instruments. It’s a traditional dance performance from the Okinawa Prefecture and it happens in the heart of Shinjuku district all day long. (End July)

4. Tsukiji Honganji Temple Bon Odori Festival

Held next to the Tsujiki Fish Market, this festival is held for 4 days and is a traditional Japanese summer festival where people enjoy dancing Bon Odori (bon dance) to the sound of drums and lanterns in front of a grand temple hall. (End July)

5. Fukagawa Festival

Fukagawa Festival is considered one of the three greatest Edo festivals along with Sanno Matsuri and Kanda Matsuri. Lasting 5 days in mid August, the main part takes place on Sunday, and it features 53 portable shrines (Mikoshi) carried through the neighbourhood where water is splashed around. (Mid August)

6. Summer Sonic

Summer Sonic is the biggest music festival in Japan, held in Tokyo and Osaka annually. It usually runs over three days and features some of the world’s greatest artists. (Mid August)

7. Azabu Juban Noryo Festival

A traditional summer night festival, Azabu Juban Noryo Festival offers approximately 300 small stalls in the neighbourhood, featuring regional specialties from all over Japan. (Late August)

8. Koenji Awaodori Festival

The Awaodori is a traditional dance that originated from the Tokushima Prefecture with a history of over 400 years. This festival is also one of the biggest dance festivals in Japan. It has been held in Tokyo since 1957 and features over 10,000 local dance groups while attracting over 1 million visitors every year. (Late August)

9. Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi

A 2-day street dance event, this festival features the traditional Yosakoi dance, originating from the Kochi Prefecture. There are around a 100 teams participating in the event and perform at Harajuku or Omotesando area (Late August)

10. Asakusa Samba Carival

Considered the most vibrant and enthusiastic event in Tokyo during the Summer, the biggest samba carnival, Asakusa Samba Carnival, invites around 500,000 people every year. The parade takes place around the Asakusa area. Many teams participate in the contest in order to win. (End August)

Don Roelofs