Summer in Japan Series 2: Summer Festival Guide | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
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Summer in Japan Series 2: Summer Festival Guide

By Chanankarn Jun 8, 2022

This post is also available in: Thai

The highlight of summer in Japan is the glorious festivals held from June to August of every year, spread to all regions of Japan. This article brings you information about the 13 most fascinating summer festivals in Japan in the months of June, July, and August! What is a summer festival? Where is the venue? Let’s find out together!

What is a Summer Festival in Japan Like?

Summer Festivals are widespread all over Japan. They contain messages and ancient histories of the location where they are held. These Japanese summer festivities are breathtaking and entertaining to see. Some things you can see at these festivals are mikoshi (religious palanquins) carrying, dancing, fireworks, street food, and much more! Visitors and locals are educated and entertained together!

1. Chagu Chagu Umakko Festival – Iwate

The Chagu Chagu Umakko is a festival held on the second Saturday of June. This festival is a parade of over 100 horses decorated with fabrics and ornaments that will walk around the city around 13 kilometers from Onikoshi Sozen Shrine to Morioka Hachimangu Shrine, Iwate prefecture.

This year’s Chagu Chagu Umakko Festival will take place on 11 June, 2022. For more information, you can click here.

2. Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival – Kanagawa

Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival, or a festival of wishing from the stars, is held in Hiratsuka city in Kanagawa Prefecture. Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata festival is the biggest Tanabata festival in the Kanto region. The other two are the Sayama Iruma River Tanabata Festival in Saitama prefecture and the Mobara Tanabata Festival in Chiba prefecture. In the Kansai area, there is also a Tanabata festival, which you can find in more detail here.

This year’s Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival will be held on 8 July 2022, from 9 pm until 10 July 2022 at 8 pm in the shopping street area on the north side of Hiratsuka Station. 

3. Kangen Sai Festival – Hiroshima

The Kangen Sai Festival is held on Miyajima island, Hiroshima prefecture. It is one of Japan’s biggest boat festivals. This festival intends to worship the gods of the sea and pray for the protection of the seas. It is held on every year of the 17 June of the lunar calendar (which falls on a different day in the Gregorian calendar). 

This year, this festival will be celebrated on 15 July 2022. For more information, please click here.

 Man on a Japanese paradePhoto credit:

4. Gion Festival – Kyoto

Gion Festival is held in July every year. This festival was originally a festival of Yasaka Shrine that first took place in 869. In that year, a great plague hit the country. Therefore the emperor started the event to ask for blessings from the gods to dispel the disease, and it was the beginning of the Gion Festival!

The festival’s highlight is the parade of Yamaboko Junko, a parade of large rickshaws with a height of 25 meters and a weight of up to 12 tons. The dates for the Yamaboko Junko parade are on 17 July and 24 July. There are also other mesmerizing parades and other ceremonies. You can check the parade route from here.

5. Tenjin Festival – Osaka

The Tenjin Festival is one of Japan’s largest festivals. It is held at the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, Osaka prefecture, to commemorate the wise Michizane Sugawara, who was later regarded as the god of learning.

The Tenjin Festival is held on the 24 and 25 of July every year. There are parades on both land and water and also fireworks at night. For more information, you can click here.

6. Shinjuku Eisa Festival – Tokyo

The Shinjuku Eisa Festival is held in Shinjuku, central Tokyo. It is a festival that showcases the culture of Eisa – a traditional dance originating in the Okinawan islands. And so the traditional costumes, dancing, and drumming are unique and different from other festivals in Japan. 

This year the Shinjuku Eisa Festival will be held on 30 July 2022, from 1 pm until 4 pm in the Shinjuku station east exit area. For more information, you can click here.

7. Aomori Nebuta Festival – Aomori

The Nebuta Festival is one of the biggest summer festivals in Japan. This festival is held in Aomori prefecture. There is a parade of colorful lanterns process around the city. The Nebuta Festival originated with floating lanterns to be free from disease.

This festival is held from 1 to 7 August every year. For more information, you can click here.

Japanese Kabuki Lantern in the Nebuta festivals, one of the most popular summer festivals in JapanPhoto credit:

8. Akita Kanto Festival – Akita

The Kanto Festival is held in Akita prefecture. Kanto refers to a group of paper lanterns hung together in a shape similar to an ear of rice. The performer holds it back and forth to dispel the feeling of sleepiness and drive away evil.

The festival is held from 1 to 7 August every year. For more information, you can click here.

9. Hanagasa Festival – Yamagata

The Yamagata Hanagasa Festival is a festival with a parade with over 10,000 parade participants. It is held on an evening in summer for three days. The Yamagata Hanagasa Festival originated in 1963 as called Zao Summer Festival to encourage tourism in Yamagata’s Zao region. 

This festival takes place at Yamagata’s Main Street on 5-7 August every year. For more information, you can click here.

10. Obon Festival – All Areas of Japan

The Obon Festival is a festival in which Japanese people pay tribute to their deceased ancestors. They believe that their deceased ancestors will return to visit their children during this period. Therefore, the Obon Festival has been held to allow the ancestors to return smoothly to the earth and return to their world with peace of mind. 

The festival is held in provinces all over areas of Japan between 13-16 August every year. For more information, you can click here.

11. Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi – Tokyo

Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi is a festival held on the last weekend of August for the dedication of Meiji-Jingu. Many shows are spread at various spots, such as Omotesando, Harajuku, and Yoyogi.

However, this year, the event date hasn’t been fixed yet. You can follow the news and more details here.

Japanese Lantern in the Night during a summer festivalPhoto credit:

12. Tokyo Koenji Awa Odori – Tokyo

The Tokyo Koenji Awa Odori was first held in 1953 to boost tourism in the commercial district. This festival has over 10,000 dancers who participate in the parade, which has a performance at the south side of JR Koenji Station.

Normally, the event is held in late August. In 2022, Tokyo Koenji Awa Odori is held at the end of August, but the dates are not yet decided. You can follow the news and see more details here.

13. Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri – Tokyo

Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri is a festival held every three years at the Tomioka Hachiman-gū shrine in Tokyo. This festival celebrates with a parade with water splashing at spectators in the sweltering heat in mid-August.

The Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri will be held again in 2023. For more information, you can click here.

What Summer Festival in Japan Are You Most Interested In?

This list of events shows only summer festivals in Japan. There still are more festivals in other seasons you can enjoy!  

If you have some in mind, send a message and let us know at @guidablejapan on Instagram.

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