Enjoy the Best Summer Festivals in Japan

Japan is the land of festivals, or matsuri, as they are called. Authentic popular celebrations, matsuri will allow you to discover a lot of traditional Japanese costumes and customs.
 
Each season has its great events, but  summer in particular has amazing festivals and unforgettable memories. Moreover, thanks to the great weather during in July and August, you will be able to fully enjoy these outdoor festivals day or night.
 
Let Japan Experience guide you through the best summer festivals in Japan.

 

awa-odori-matsuri

The Awa Odori Matsuri

The Awa Odori festival is one of the most famous events in Japan. It is part of the Obon rites to welcome the spirits of the dead.
 
Every night, from August 12th to 15th, the festival comes to life in Tokushima, in the Shikoku region.
 
The dancers, wearing their yukata (light cotton kimono) and straw hats, walk and dance through the streets of the city, following the rhythm of shamisen, drums, flutes, and brass instruments.
 
Keep in mind that, to avoid missing this incredible experience in the heart of Japanese summer, you should plan your trip well in advance. Indeed, the Awa Odori Matsuri is one of Japan's most exciting festivals and is getting more popular by the year.
 
For more information, consult the festival’s website.

 

 

aomori-nebuta-matsuri

The Aomori Nebuta Matsuri

The Aomori Nebuta festival is one of the top 3 festivals in Japan. It takes place every year from August 2nd to the 7th.
 
As its name says, it takes place in Aomori city, in the north of the main island.
Each year, it attracts both Japanese tourists as well as foreigners.
 
The Nebuta festival was even designated as a “World Intangible Cultural Heritage” in 1980.
 
Each night, the parade starts at sunset and lasts for hours, led by dancers carrying illuminated and decorated floats.
 
On August 7th, activites start around midday, and at night, fireworks are lit when the floats are set out to sea.
 
Don’t hesitate to consult the official Aomori Nebuta official festival website.

 
gion-matsuri-char

The Gion Matsuri

The Gion Matsuri is a festival held at Yasaka shrine in Kyoto.
It takes place during the whole month of July. Dating back from the 9th century, this festival was designated as “World Intangible Cultural Heritage” in 2009.
 
The most famous festival in Japan, it offers a wide range of festivities during the whole month of July.
 
The floats are really impressive; they can be as high as 25 meters and weigh as much as 12 tons. They are set on heavy wheels the size of an adult.
 
On July 14th and 15th, the center of town is barricaded off; traffic is stopped to allow all sorts of food and game stands to set up.
 
July 16th and 17th are also days not to miss. On the evening of the 16th, all the traditional neighborhoods are illuminated and decorated with lanterns, flags and floral banners.

On the 17th, the great procession starts at Yasaka Shrine in the Gion district. It is a great opportunity to see about 30 floats going through the streets, accompanied by songs and dances.
 
Each float represents one of Kyoto’s neighborhoods or corporations.
 
For more information regarding the different events taking place during the month of July in Kyoto, check out this page.

 
tenjin-matsuri-bateau

The Tenjin Matsuri

Born 1000 years ago, the Tenjin Matsuri is one of the greatest boat festivals in the world.
 
It is held at the Tenman shrine in Osaka to pay tribute to Tenman Tenjin, patron of arts.
 
The city becomes incredibly festive during the 2 days of the festival: the 24th and 25th of July.
 
On July 25th, 3000 people dressed in the style of the 8th to 12th century imperial court go around the city carrying portable shrines. At the same tine, a unique procession of a 100 boats set out.
 
At nightfall, the boats light fires, and fireworks are also there to light up the sky for an unforgettable scene.
 
For more details about this festival, consult the shrine’s official page.

 
mitama-matsuri-tokyo

The Mitama Matsuri

From July 13th to the 17th, the Mitama Matsuri settles itself at Yasukuni Jinja in Tokyo.

For 4 days, you will be able to walk around the alleys of Yasukuni Shrine lit up by about 20,000 lanterns installed for the occadion.
 
It is most likely one of the most impressive and festive events in Tokyo.
 
The illuminated lanterns give a special atmosphere to the temple, and on each side of the main alley you will be able to enjoy the traditional food sold during festivals.
 
Many people come dressed in yukata, which adds to the traditional atmosphere.
 
You will also enjoy a float procession, traditional dancing, theater or koto shows.
 
Easy to access, the Minata Matsuri is located a few minutes on foot from the Kudanshita station on Hanzomon line.

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