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Table of Contents

Japan holidays

Japan is a beautiful country that has almost 300 000 traditional festivals. These festivals are very different from one area to another. The Japanese word ‘matsuri’ stands for the word festival. Typically, the local people of Japan organize the traditional celebrations of that particular area, and the temples or shrine fund the festivals. The various festivities make Japan a unique land, and this article will tell you about the different Japan holidays celebrated throughout the country.

  1. Haru Matsuri festival (spring festival)

As mentioned in the title, the literal meaning of Haru Matsuri is a spring festival. The words ‘Haru’ and ‘Matsuri’ are framed with Japanese characters for Spring and Festivals, respectively. However, it is not an individual festival, and it comprises different events and various activities.

These events and activities are generally intended to pray for a new and good crop harvest alongside welcoming spring. Here, it is noticeable that for the Japanese, spring refers to a new beginning and change as spring brings a blooming period with it. If you want yourself to be immersed in the Japan festivalsthere are some well-celebrated events you ought to know about.

Japan festivals

 Where: 

NA

When:

The dates for the next six years for you:

NA

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

Since it is not an individual festival, it is not possible to specify things that you can enjoy in the Haru Matsuri festival. However, the events and activities happen here are worth to enjoy, such as Setsubun at the beginning of spring season and Hanami or cherry blossom festival.

  1. Setsubun (the bean throwing festival)

In Japan, the Setsubun or The Bean throwing festival is celebrated to welcome the beginning of spring. Every year it is celebrated during the Hari Matsuri festival, which is symbolized with welcoming of spring and praying for good crop harvest. The bean throwing festival of Setsubun, as known in Japan, has its origin from the Muromachi period, which lasted from 1337 to 1573.

In this festival, vitality is represented by beans. As the Japanese believed, these beans purify their homes. Also, evil spirits, responsible for adverse health and misfortune, are driven away by grains. It is a known fact that Japanese like playing with words. That is why there is a secretive meaning behind the term ‘bean throwing festival.’

Pronouncing ‘Beans’ is similar to the Japanese word for demon eyes (mame), and ‘Throwing beans’ is identical in sound to that of the Japanese word for ‘destroying demons’ (mametsu).

Where: 

Though Setsubun is usually celebrated in public yet individual families can observe the same at their home. However, when seen in public, Setsubun is termed and ‘mamemaki.’ It is celebrated with chants and shouts of ‘oniwa Soto,’ which means (get out demons) and ‘fukuwauchi,’ which means (come in happiness).

You can celebrate in either public or at your home comfort. Feel the soulful aura of this happening yet traditional festival of Japan.

When:

The dates for the next six years for you:

  • Setsubun 2020- Monday 3rd February 2020
  • Setsubun 2021- Tuesday 2nd February 2021
  • Setsubun 2022- Thursday 3rd February 2022
  • Setsubun 2023- Friday 3rd February 2023
  • Setsubun 2024- Saturday 3rd February 2024
  • Setsubun 2025- Sunday 2nd February 2025

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

(i) Grab a Setsubun set having an oni demon mask from a local shop, while you are spending holidays in Japan.

(ii) Even if you haven’t been to a real Setsubun festival yet, there are many ceremonies organized in and around Tokyo which you can attend and feel the fierce competition in catching the beans. Stay well-armed!!

  1. Hanami (cherry blossom festival)

Japan is worldwide famous for cherry blossom festivals. The cherry blossom festivals are known as Hanami in Japanese. These festivals fall under some of the essential customs of Japan. They are celebrated all across Japan during the spring season.

As the tree begins to bloom at different times, you don’t need to find cherry blossoms wherever you go. Therefore, you should do some research if you are planning Japan holidays to be in awe of Hanami or cherry blossom festival.

One of the most popular cherry trees in Japan is Sakura, which is found all across the nation. In botanical circles, these trees are known as somei-Yoshino or yedoensis trees. Plan your trip to Japan today, and explore the charms and scenic beauty of nature.

Japan events
Cherry blossom in Kyoto

Where: 

Different regions have different times of cherry blossom festivals. Therefore, check the weather forecast by the Japan Weather Association for updates regarding the same.

When:

Since cherry blossom occurs at different times in different regions, it is difficult to state a definite time or date for the same. For instance, in Okinawa, you will witness cherry blossom in January, whereas the time is late March to April in the Honshu region. It is a cumbersome task to plan a trip to Japan.

However, an advance announcement of cherry blossom forecasts is made by The Japan Weather Association during the spring season. The festivals are organized based on these forecasts and vary every year.

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Viewing cherry blossoms is much fun while picnicking under the trees.
  • Bring home-cooked food and barbecued meals.
  • If you don’t want to miss it even the littlest bit, you can take your spot early in the morning or a day before in advance.
  1. Golden Week

The Golden Week is referred to as a group of four national holidays that falls within seven days. The weekends are placed in a strategic manner here, and that makes the Golden Week a hectic Japan holidayThe trains, sightseeing spots, and the airports get quite crowded during this Golden Week. The National Holidays that the

Golden Week consists of are Showa Day (29th April), which is the birthday of Showa, the Emperor who passed away in the year 1989. Constitution Day (3rd May) is the day on which the new postwar constitution came into being in 1947.

Greenery Day (4th May) that is for observing the nature and environment because Showa the Emperor loved nature and plants, Children’s Day (5th May) consists of families raying for the success and health of their sons.

Where:

People celebrate the Golden Week throughout Japan as National holidays make up this festival. People all over Japan enjoy the week with fun-filled activities.

When:

  • 2020: 29th April Wednesday
  • 2021: 29th April Thursday
  • 2022: 29th April Friday
  • 2023: 29th April Saturday
  • 2024: 29th April Monday
  • 2025: 29th April Tuesday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the various outdoor festivals during this time.
  • Enjoy the outside weather as it remains mild and enjoyable during this time.
  1. Obon

Obon is one of the Japan holidays when one commemorates one’s ancestors. According to traditional saying every year during the time of Obon, the spirits of the ancestors come back to the world to visit their dear ones. According to tradition, lanterns are generally hung in the front of various houses to guide the spirit of the visiting ancestor.

Obon dances are also performed, and people visit the graves and also offer food at temples and home altars. When the festival ends, the participants float lanterns in the river, sea, and lakes intending to guide the visiting spirits back to the world they came. The customs of Obon generally vary from one region to another.

Where:

People celebrate Obon all over Japan, and they also observe customs in different parts of the country.

When:

  • 2020: 13th August Thursday
  • 2021: 13th August Friday
  • 2022: 13th August Saturday
  • 2023: 13th August Sunday
  • 2024: 13th August Tuesday
  • 2025: 13th August Wednesday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • You can enjoy the Gujo Odori Festival if you love to dance.
  • You can also visit Kyoto to enjoy the Daimonji Festival to view the spectacular bonfires.
  1. The Emperor’s Birthday

Emperor’s birthday is a public holiday in Japan. It is one of the most anticipated Japan holidays. The festival of the Emperor’s Birthday takes place on the day the residing Emperor was born. The origin of this festival goes back to the year 1948. It is the year from when people started to celebrate the birthday of the Emperor as a holiday. Japan’s Emperor is generally seen as a symbol representing the unity and state of Japan.

Holidays to Japan
Imperial palace in Tokyo

Where:

The Emperor celebrates his birthday in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The Emperor and the empress and various other Royal family members greet the visitors from their balcony.

When:

  • 2020: 23rd February Sunday
  • 2021: 23rd February Monday
  • 2022: 23rd February Tuesday
  • 2023: 23rd February Wednesday
  • 2024: 23rd February Friday
  • 2025: 23rd February Saturday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the various festivities arranged at the Imperial Palace.
  • Enjoy the majestic beauty of the palace grounds.
  1. Winter light festival

The winter illumination or the winter light festival takes place around the time of New Year and Christmas and has become quite a popular one among Japan festivals. The grad illuminations are generally displayed between the time of November and December, and sometimes they run even for more extended periods and starts from October.

Where:

The festival is held in the city of Kuwana. There is a park named Nabano No Sato, and it features large greenhouses and spectacular gardens, and the celebration of illumination is held here only.

When:

  • 2020: 15th October Thursday
  • 2021: NA
  • 2022: NA
  • 2023: NA
  • 2024: NA
  • 2025: NA

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the brilliantly illuminated Nabano No Sato and walk through the tunnel of light.
  • Enjoy delicious food at the park from the various restaurants that are set up.
  • Visit the hot spring in the park.
  1. Takayama Matsuri

Takayama Festival goes back to the 16th or 17th century and consists of two festivals: Hachiman Matsuri in the autumn and Sanno Matsuri in the spring. The Sanno Matsuri is a yearly festival for the Shrine of Hie Jinja, and people observe it on 14th and 15th April.

Japan holidays today
Takayama Matsuri

The Hachiman Matsuri is also an annual festival and is held or the Shrine of Hachimangu on 9thand 10th October. The Takayama Festival is a combination of these two festivals, and it is one of the most splendid festivals in Japan.

Where:

The Sanno Matsuri takes place at the Shrine of Hie Jinja in the city of Takayama, Gifu. The autumn part of the Takayama Festival is held around the shrine of SakurayamaHachimangu.

When:

  • 2020: 14th April Tuesday
  • 2021: NA
  • 2022: NA
  • 2023: NA
  • 2024: NA
  • 2025: NA

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the parade that takes place, especially for this festival.
  1. Sanja Matsuri

The Sanja Matsuri commences during the weekend of the third week of May. On this one of the several Japan holidayshundreds of portable shrines, lots of sake, and parades are held together to celebrate the Asakusa Sanja festival. The atmosphere remains high spirited during this festival, and the Sensoji Temple founders are honored on this one of the most celebrated three festivals of Tokyo.

Japan public holidays
Sanja Matsuri, Senso-ji Temple at Asakusa, Taito-ku in Tokyo

Where:

Most of the events of this festival are celebrated around the temple of Sensoji and the shrine of Asakusa. These locations can be easily traveled by railways, and the temple takes only five minutes to reach by walking from the Asakusa station.

When:

  • 2020: 15th May Friday
  • 2021: 14th May Friday
  • 2022: 20th May Friday
  • 2023: 19th May Friday
  • 2024: 17th May Friday
  • 2025: 16th May Friday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the Daigyoretsu Parade on the afternoon of Friday.
  • Watch the spectacular sight of hundreds of mikoshi around Asakusa.

  1. Gion Matsuri

Gion Matsui happens to be the biggest of Japan festivals. It has been celebrated since the year 869 and has been growing since then. The festival changes the city into a party-like atmosphere, and the peak time of celebration in the middle of July when meticulously decked up multi-ton floats are shown and also pulled through various streets. The festival attracts so much crowd that it is needed to book accommodation before visiting the festival.

Where:

The festival of Gion Matsuri is held in central Kyoto, and it can be reached easily by bus or subway or taxi or even on foot. The main celebrations take place around Kawaramachi, Shijo, and Oike Streets.

When:

  • 2020: 1st July Wednesday
  • 2021: NA
  • 2022: NA
  • 2023: NA
  • 2024: NA
  • 2025: NA

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the Yioyama street parties celebrated in the evening.
  • Watch the giant floats that execute hair-raising turns.
  1. Kanto Matsuri

Kanto Matsuri happens to be one of the three most celebrated Japan festivals in that region. This festival, the Atika Kanto Matsuri, takes place at the beginning of the year annually. It is a summer festival that is celebrated as a prayer to God for the excellent harvest of the particular five grains that grow in that region. These grains are rice, wheat, foxtail miller, beans, and Chinese millet. This festival had originated in the 17th century.

Where:

The Kanto Matsuri festival takes place in the city of Atika, and it can be accessed easily by bus and train from the different towns and neighboring areas in that region. The festival is celebrated in between the SannoJujiro Crossroads and the Nichomebashi Bridge.

When:

  • 2020: 3rd August Monday
  • 2021: 3rd August Tuesday
  • 2022: 3rd August Wednesday
  • 2023: 3rd August Thursday
  • 2024: 3rd August Saturday
  • 2025: 3rd August Sunday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the lighted up night sky by 46 lanterns made of paper.
  1. Nagasaki Kunchi

Nagasaki Kunchi is one of the Japan holidays and festivals that goes back to 400 years and celebrates fun, food, and the diverse cultures present and past of Nagasaki. This festival happens to the pride of the city of Nagasaki. The festival goes on for three days, and during this period, the entire region becomes alive with an array of different events and stalls of food that center around the Dejima Wharf.

Where:

The Nagasaki Kunchi is held at Suwa Shrine, and it can be reached easily by almost all types of public transports.

When:

  • 2020: 7th October Wednesday
  • 2021: 7th October Thursday
  • 2022: 7th October Friday
  • 2023: 7th October Saturday
  • 2024: 7th October Monday
  • 2025: 7th October Tuesday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the foods of the festival that are inspired by various cultures.
  • Enjoy the performed by different Nagasaki groups.
  1. Jidai Matsuri

Jidai Matsuri is one of the most beautiful Japan festivals that celebrates the colorful finery and characters from the past centuries. It is also known as the ‘Festival of the Ages,’ and it is one of the most popular festivals of Kyoto’s along with the other two on the list. In this festival, you will witness the spectacular fineries from historical Japan, and you will also see the key figures belonging from the past of the country.

Where:

Kyoto, the location of the Jidai Matsui, is easily reachable by trains, buses, and planes. You can reach the parade of the Jidai Matsuri by walking from Kyoto.

When:

  • 2020: 22nd October Thursday
  • 2021: 22nd October Friday
  • 2022: 22nd October Saturday
  • 2023: 22nd October Sunday
  • 2024: 22nd October Tuesday
  • 2025: 22nd October Wednesday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Meet your favorite historical characters in Japan.
  • Enjoy authentic costumes that are generally seen in a museum.
  1. Sapporo snow festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival is one of the most famous Japan festivals held during the winter. The festival is celebrated for a week in February every year. The festival had started way back in the year 1950 with high school students building a few statues of snow in Odori Park. Gradually, this developed into a large and elaborate Japanese festival.

Japan snow festival

Where:

The Snow Festival is held in the Sapporo’s Odori Park in the Odori site. This one and a half km park remains the main venue of the festival. Another place of the festival is the Tsubame Site. It is a family-friendly ground for playing purposes, and during the celebration, you will find food stands and stage for events. Outside the site, there remains snow slides, a snow maze, a snow rafting slope, and a snowman building area. Suskino Site also holds the festival.

When:

  • 2020: 31st January Friday
  • 2021: NA
  • 2022: NA
  • 2023: NA
  • 2024: NA
  • 2025: NA

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Viewing the photograph of ice and snow statues in the day.
  • You are enjoying Japanese food.
  • You are viewing live events and concerts.
  • You are playing on the slides and slopes made of snow on the site of Tsu Dome.
  • You are enjoying the night time highlighting of the statues. 

  1. Yokote Kamakura Festival

Yokote Kamakura Festival is one of the most famous Japan events. It is held in February. The festival transforms the city of Akita’s Yokote into a fairyland with illuminated igloo-like houses doting all over the landscape. The history of the festival goes back to almost 400 years. The snow houses that are built during this festival are known as Kamakura. They are established in various parts of the city. The largest Kamakura can stand up to being four meters wide and three metes tall.

Where:

The festival is held in Yokote Station, Yokote, Akita Prefecture, Japan. In this festival, an igloo-shaped structure is made using snow, and the insides of it are dugout. They were primarily made as New Year traditions, and that gradually turned into a festival.

When:

  • 2020: 15th February Saturday
  • 2021: NA
  • 2022: NA
  • 2023: NA
  • 2024: NA
  • 2025: NA

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Get invited in Kamakura’s by children to eat cakes made of rice and a drink names’ amazake’ that contains no or very low alcohol.
  • Enjoy the miniature version of the candlelit Kamakuras along the Yokote river.
  1. Omizutori

Omizutori is one of the Japan festivals that refers to a dramatic celebration of offering repentance to the water and fire. The festival runs for two weeks and is specifically a Buddhist festival. This festival had started almost 1250 years ago and has combined the elements of fire and water since the beginning. A saying goes that the water that is used for the Omizutori festival has got celestial properties.

Where:

Omizutori takes place at the Todaiji Temple that is situated in Nara Park. One can reach the venue of the festival by fort from Kintetsu Nara Station and JR Nara. The Kintetsu Nara Station is only a five minutes distance from the festival venue.

When:

  • 2020: 1st March Sunday
  • 2021: 1st March Monday
  • 2022: 1st March Tuesday
  • 2023: 1st March Wednesday
  • 2024: 1st March Friday
  • 2025: 1st March Saturday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy one of the oldest Buddhist traditional rituals.
  • Witness the brilliant flames of the lighted torches reaching up the night sky.
  1. Kanda Matsuri

Kanda Matsuri, the festival, features more than 200 portable shrines and floats. They are known as mikoshi. The festival further includes musicians, parades performed by dancers and horse riding priests. Witnessing this festival is an out of the world experience that you will never forget. It a celebration of six days and is one of the biggest festivals held in Edo and also in entire Japan.

The festival attracts most of the crowd for two days: on the day of the Shinko-sai parade and the day of the Mikoshi Miya-iri procession. These are the two prime attractions of this festival. Both of these rituals offer a glimpse of the energy that Japanese mikoshi parades offer.

Where:

The festival takes place around the Kanda-jinja Shrine. It is close to the Ochanomizu and Akihabara stations. However, the festival includes parades that run throughout the city.

When:

  • 2020: 7th May Thursday
  • 2021: NA
  • 2022: NA
  • 2023: NA
  • 2024: NA
  • 2025: NA

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the mini-parade of the festival that moves through Tokyo and presents an excellent sight.
  • Taste the local snacks sold throughout the area.
  • Enjoy live music and dance performances.
  1. Kishiwadadanjiri matsuri

Kishiwadadanjiri matsuri is one of the most extravagant Japan fall festivals. It is a danjiri float festival and attracts almost 500, 000 visitors every year. The festival consists of more than a hundred men pulling and pushing the handcrafted dan iris. Men remain of the top of these floats, and they shout enthusiastically as the bobbers bounce continuously.

This festival is rather dangerous but also shows the carefree mentality that the area possesses. The history of the festival dates back to the year of 1703 when the ruler of Kishiwada-han tan of that time, Lord Okabe Nagayasu, ordered a prayer of Inari Matsuri for a good harvest. The festival has been continued since then by the natives.

Where:

The parade of the festival begins in front of the station of Kishiwada on its first day. However, on the second day, the festivities center themselves around the castle of Kishiwads from 9 in the morning.

When:

  • 2020: NA
  • 2021: NA
  • 2022: NA
  • 2023: NA
  • 2024: NA
  • 2025: NA

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the traditional floating of the danjiris.
  • Witness the livelihood of the area as the streets come to life with bells, drums, and people shouting.
  1. Tenjin Matsuri

Tenjin Matsuri is one of Japan’s summer festivals that is sensational. It is full of dance, traditional rituals, and music. The festival also features a procession consisting of portable shrines. The celebrations end with illuminating fireworks lighting up the sky for almost half an hour. This festival of Osaka is considered to be one of the top three Japan festivals.

It is given the same stature as of the Kanda Matsuri of Tokyo and Gion Matsuri of Kyoto. The origin of the festival dates back to the 10th century, and it has been continued since them. The festival is for two days, and the grand celebrations generally take place on the second and the last day of the festival.

Where:

The festival is held around Osaka Tenmangu Shrine and the River of Okawa. The nearest stations to the venue of the festival are Minami-Morimachi Station and JR Osaka-Tenmangu Station.

When:

  • 2020: 25th July Saturday
  • 2021: 25th July Sunday
  • 2022: 25th July Monday
  • 2023: 25th July Tuesday
  • 2024: 25th July Thursday
  • 2025: 25th July Friday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Witness the golden Omikoshis that is on display in Tenmangu shrine.
  • Enjoy the astounding firework at the end of the festival.
  1. Kochi Yosakoi Matsuri

The celebration of Kochi Yosakoi Matsuri had started in the time of 1950s as a way to cheer up the residents of Kochi at a time of recession. Since then, the festival has gradually grown and is now one of the most popular Japan events. It attracts almost 20, 000 or more participants and a million viewers from all over the world.

The term ‘yosakoi’ means ‘come over tonight,’ and as the name suggests, the festival does bring in a lot of people during the four-day celebrations. Teams of colorfully dressed dancers take over the roads of Kochi to perform during this festival. It creates a joyous atmosphere and is seen as one of the fabulous holidays to Japan.

Where:

The festival of Yosakoi Matsuri is performed in sixteen different venues within the city of Kochi. 9 of these venues are meant for competition, and the rest of 7 is for performances held only for fun.

When:

  • 2020: 9th August Sunday
  • 2021: 9th August Monday
  • 2022: 9th August Tuesday
  • 2023: 9th August Wednesday
  • 2024: 9th August Friday
  • 2025: 9th August Saturday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the lively dance and music on the streets.
  • Make your unique piece of Naruto as a souvenir.
  1. Tanabata matsuri

Tanabata Matsuri is one of Japan’s holidays in 2020. It is the celebration of Orihime and Hikoboshi, two lovers who were start crossed. They were kept separated by Milky Way but could only meet every year on 7th July. The festival goes back to almost 400 years. However, it started to get celebrated only since the 20th century.

The festival is celebrated all over the city, and there are numerous food stalls, concerts, parades, and fireworks to enjoy during Tanabata Matsuri. The Sendai station area is particularly more decorated during the festival than the entire city.

Where:

This festival is celebrated all over Japan, and thus you can enjoy this festival from any part of the country. One of the biggest celebrations takes place in Sendai, which is almost one hour and forty minutes away from Tokyo.

When:

  • 2020: 7th July Tuesday
  • 2021: 7th July Wednesday
  • 2022: 7th July Thursday
  • 2023: 7th July Friday
  • 2024: 7th July Sunday
  • 2025: 7th July Monday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Write your wish, your bright and colorful strips of paper and hope they come true.
  • Enjoy great food and all the concerts and parade that take place throughout the city.
  1. Hakata dontaku matsuri

Hakata dontako matsuri is one of the most celebrated festivals of Japan that witnesses almost 30 000 participants and more than two million viewers. The celebration has been taking place for nearly 800 years now. However, there had been a few breaks in between. The ceremony has somehow made its way towards continuation.

It started in the Heian period that dates from 794-1185. This festival takes place during the busy Golden Week, a period of the holiday for the Japanese. During this festival almost 10, 000 participants dance through the streets of Fukuoka in bright and vibrant and traditional costumes. The festival goes on for two days.

Where:

The festival mainly takes place near the station of Tenjin that is situated on the subway line of Hakata station. The events of this festival are held throughput Fukuoka.

When:

  • 2020: 3rd May Sunday
  • 2021: NA
  • 2022: NA
  • 2023: NA
  • 2024: NA
  • 2025: NA

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Jump along the parades and processions to dance in with the participants. This practice is encouraged, and you will enjoy it as well.
  • Witness the Hana jidosha, which are decorated floats. The term hanajidosha means flower cars.
  1. Aomori Nebuta Matsuri

The festival of Aomori Nebuta is a fire festival of Japan that is held yearly in the city of Aomori. More than three million people from all over the world gather around Japan to enjoy his festival every year. During the festival, twenty nubutas or huge lanterns based on mythical or kabuki stories parade throughout the city of Aomori.

The colorfully dressed Haneto or nebuta dancers and drummers and flutists convey the floats of nebuta all across the city. The festival comes to an end with illuminating fireworks lighting up the night sky after the nebutas are put in boats and then taken around the Bay of Aomori.

Where:

The festival takes place in Aomori, Japan. To be more specific, the festival takes place in the Tohoku region of Aomori.

When:

  • 2020: 1st August Saturday
  • 2021: NA
  • 2022: NA
  • 2023: NA
  • 2024: NA
  • 2025: NA

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the performances by Nebuta dancers in their bright and traditional costumes.
  • Take part in the parade to get a taste of the festival and the culture of the country.
  • Witness the memorizing fireworks at the end of the festival.
  1. Chichibu Night Festival (Chichibu Yomatsui), Saitama

The Chichibu Night Festival is a festival of the shrine of Chichibu. It is held annually in December and lasts for two days. The main attractions of the festival take place in its second or last day. This festival comes in the list of top three festivals of the country regarding floats.

The other two are Takayama Matsuri and Kyoto’s Gion Matsui. The floats of this festival are decorated with tapestries, lanterns, and wood carvings that are guilt, and flute music and drums also accompany them. The major attraction of this festival is its firework celebrations that go on for almost more than two hours.

Where:

The festival is held in central Chichibu that is situated just outside the Seibu-Chichibu and Chichibu stations. One can also come down here from Tokyo station by taking the Chichibu and JR rail lines to get to Chichibu.

When:

  • 2020: 2nd December Wednesday
  • 2021: 2nd December Thursday
  • 2022: 2nd December Friday
  • 2023: 2nd December Saturday
  • 2024: 2nd December Monday
  • 2025: 2nd December Tuesday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the floats that are bought up to Dango Hill.
  • Watch kabuki show while drinking rice wine o amazake.
  • The astounding fireworks on the last day.
  1. Aoi Matsuri Festival, Kyoto

The Aoi Matsuri festival is also known as the Hollyhock Festival and is considered to be in the list of the top three festivals held in Koyoto. The other two are Jidai Matsuri and Gion Matsuri. This festival brings an excellent opportunity to enjoy the costumes of the Heian period as almost five hundred members take part in the parade that takes place from the Imperial Palace to the Shrine of Shimogamo and the Shrine of Kamigamo.

The festival goes back to the time of Emperor Kinmei (CE 539-571) when almost every country was damaged by typhoons, rain, and poor harvest. This is why an envoy from the royal house was sent to offer prayer to the two shrines for the betterment of the situation. The tradition has continued since then.

Where:

The iconic procession of the festival starts from the Imperial Palace and then passes through the Shimogamo Shrine and then finally ends at the Kamigamo Shrine.

When:

  • 2020: 15th May Friday
  • 2021: 15th May Saturday
  • 2022: 15th May Sunday
  • 2023: 15th May Monday
  • 2024: 15th May Wednesday
  • 2025: 15th May Thursday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Witness the grand parade that will give you a peek into the Helian culture and traditions.
  1. Nada no Kenka Matsuri, Hyogo

The Nada Kenka Matsuri is a traditional Japanese festival that takes place in October and is a festival of fighting. In this festival, the participants smash shrines that are portable and are known as mikoshi. The fight takes place to prove the dominance of one over another. Men from high school and men up to 45 years of age can participate in the festival. The festival is held for two days.

The first day is so seven different teams representing various districts by carrying yatai floats to the shrines for a ritual. These floats are elaborately decorated and provide a sight to behold. The fighting takes place on the second and the last day of the festival.

Where:

The festival takes place in Matsubara Hachiman Shrine and it can be easily traveled from JR Himeji Station. The venue of the festival is also within walking distance from Shirahama-no-Miya station.

When:

  • 2020: 14th October Wednesday
  • 2021: 14th October Thursday
  • 2022: 14th October Friday
  • 2023: 14th October Saturday
  • 2024: 14th October Monday
  • 2025: 14th October Tuesday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Witness the masculine men of Japan participate in a tough fight to prove their dominance.
  • View the elaborately decorated floats on the first day of the festival.
  1. SaidaijiEyou Matsuri (Hadaka Matsuri), Okayama

The Saidajieyo Hadaka Matsuri is a century-old festival held in the winter season that consists of high action and music and bare-skinned men. The festival is mainly about happiness and good luck, and at the festival, almost a thousand semi-naked men jostle with each other in search of objects to be considered lucky that are thrown by priests.

The celebration of today gradually evolved from a tradition that had started almost 500 years ago. That time, the worshippers had competed among each other to get hold of Goo. It was a paper talisman that was thrown by the priest at the temple of Saidaiji Kannon-in. The festival continued since then as receivers of the amulet had good luck.

Where:

The festival takes place in Okayama that can be traveled easily from the station of JR Okayama. You can also take the Ako line from the Okayama station to the station of Saidaji.

When:

  • 2020: 15th February Saturday
  • 2021: 20th February Saturday
  • 2022: 19th February Saturday
  • 2023: 18th February Saturday
  • 2024: 17th February Saturday
  • 2025: 15th February Saturday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Witness an energetic semi-naked men festival and join them if you wish.
  • Have lunch at the Café Chakura situated near the temple of Saidaiji Kannon-in.
  1. Awa Odori, Tokushima

Awa Odori of the city Tokushima is the most famous among the various dance festivals that are held across the country of Japan during the season of Obon in the middle of August. Awa refers to the former name of Tokushima Prefecture, and Odori translates into dance. In August, various dancers and spectators come to Tokushima, the venue of the festival, to participate or witness the ‘Fool’s Dance.’

The origin of the festival goes back to almost 400 years, and it has continued since them. The main event of this festival stakes paces in the evening, from 18:00 to 22:30. In this period, a group of dancers known by the name of ‘ren’ performs in the streets of Tokushima downtown.

Where:

The festival is held in Tokushima, and you can get there by plane from Haneda airport in Tokyo. You can also reach by train and buses.

When:

  • 2020: 12th August Wednesday
  • 2021: 12th August Thursday
  • 2022: 12th August Friday
  • 2023: 12th August Saturday
  • 2024: 12th August Monday
  • 2025: 12th August Tuesday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the dance of the ren group in the evening.
  • Witness the yukata and happi, traditional uniforms worn by the dancers.
  1. Hakata GionYamakasa, Fukuoka

Hakata GionYamakasa is one of the most exciting Japanese festivals that consists of elaborate floats and men clad in loin-clothes. In this festival, the participant’s race throughout the streets of Hakata with elaborately decked up floats known as Yamakawa. The festival takes place in the middle of July. The festival attracts almost a million viewers from all over the globe.

They witness the team of men racing the Yamakawa. The festival is centered around the Kushida-jinha Shrine. Two different types of floats are used in this festival. The colorful and decorated floats are known as kazariyama, and the floats used in the races are called kakiyama.

Where:

The festival is celebrated throughout the area of Hakata of Fukuoka. This place can be reached from various major cities in Japan by shinkansen. The best way to get in Fukuoka is by using the subway, and there are also local trains and buses available.

When:

  • 2020: 1st July Wednesday
  • 2021: NA
  • 2022: NA
  • 2023: NA
  • 2024: NA
  • 2025: NA

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the festival vibrant and colored headbands used by various participants.
  • Make sure to witness the various smaller festivities running for almost two weeks before the primary race.
  1. KaratsuKunchi, Saga

KaratsuKunchi is a Japanese festival that celebrates the season Autumn by using huge floats. The festival has been praised for almost 400 years, and it started as a festival to celebrate the bountiful harvests. It is a three-day-long festival that begins in November.

The festival features Akiyama or massive floats, and they are pulled throughout the town and finally from the shrine of Karatsu to the beach of Nishino. The floats feature a whale and the legendary character of Urashima Taro, who was a fisherman and had the status of being the Rip Van Winkle of Japan.

Where:

The festival is held at Krartsu, and the best possible way to reach the venue is by trains. You will have to take the JR Karatsu line from the Saga station, and the journey will last for an hour or so. Various express lines lead to Karatsu.

When:

  • 2020: 2nd November Monday
  • 2021: 2nd November Tuesday
  • 2022: 2nd November Wednesday
  • 2023: 2nd November Thursday
  • 2024: 2nd November Saturday
  • 2025: 2nd November Sunday

How to engage/behave/enjoy (tips):

  • Enjoy the amazingly designed floats that consist of designs ranging from mythical sea creatures to samurai helmets and even dragons.

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