These Are All the Best Summer Festivals in Japan
Created with Cebu Pacific.
Once the sunny season starts, it means summer festivals or matsuri for Japan. From traditional festivals and fireworks displays to music festivals, we’ve put together your guide to all the best ones this year.
Gion Matsuri in Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto
This is not just Kyoto’s biggest festival, it’s one of Japan’s biggest annual events. Gion Matsuri happens all throughout July. If you’re in town for it, dress up in a yukata and join in on the fun!
Sapporo Natsu Matsuri in Odori Park, Sapporo, Hokkaido
Fireworks, dancing, firefly hunting, and a Tanabata star festival are all part of the fun in Odori Park. There’s also a beer garden for some fun summer nights.
Setagaya Firefly Festival in Setagaya City, Tokyo
You won’t find too many tourists here, but you’ll definitely spot lots of fireflies. They light up the night sky as festival goers enjoy Japanese street food as well as a traditional dance called bon odori.
Mitama Matsuri at Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo
Buddhists commemorate their ancestors with Obon. One such commemorative festival is Mitama Matsuri held at the Yasukuni Shrine. It’s one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals and known for its 30,000 glowing lanterns that line the path from the food stalls all the way to the shrine.
Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival in Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo
This annual summer festival is held on the last Saturday of July over the Sumidagawa in Asakusa. Rival pyrotechnic groups take turns showing fantastic displays over the river, much to the amusement of onlookers.
Wonder Festival in Makuhari Messe, Mihama Ward, Chiba
Hobbyists gather twice a year to geek over their favorite figurines at this festival. There are displays, shows, and more fun activities that are also broadcasted online.
Oedo Beer Festival in Machida Shibahiro, Nakamichi, Machida, Tokyo
What are summer festivals without beer? This one celebrates with over 200 varieties of craft beer that you can sample for a minimal fee per glass.
Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka Temanggu, Tenjinbashi, Osaka
This is one of the three great festivals in Japan and is probably one of the most symbolic, too. It’s a merry mix of a boat festival, a fireworks display, and a parade of mikoshi, or portable shrines.
Fuji Rock Festival at Naeba Ski Resort, Minami Uonuma-gun, Niigata
Now on its 22nd year, this is still one of the largest outdoor music festivals in Japan. From its original location at the foot of Mount Fuji, it has found its home at the Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata. Some of the artists performing this year are The Chemical Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Death Cab for Cutie, Mitski, Daniel Caesar, Toro Y Moi, and more.
Nishinippon Fireworks Festival at Ohori Park, Ohorikoen, Chuo-ku Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka
You haven’t seen anything like a gorgeous night sky lit up with fireworks until you see the display in Ohori Park. It’s Kyushu’s largest fireworks festival with 6,000 fireworks shot up the sky.
Awa Odori Matsuri at Awa Odori Hall, Tokushima
This is one of the most fun festivals in the summer. It’s basically a thousand people dancing together. You can even join in on the fun, and no one will stop you! The groups of dancers called ren come together from different parts of Japan to celebrate by dancing. Their intricate outfits are also a sight to behold!
Summer Sonic at ZOZO Marine Stadium, Mihama Ward, Chiba and Ookini Arena Maishima, Konohana Ward, Osaka
This 3-day music festival is held simultaneously in Chiba and Osaka. There are different stages where artists—both local and foreign—perform for the festival goers. Some of the performers this year are The 1975, Two Door Cinema Club, Snow Patrol, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer.