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Sanja Matsuri

Japan's Seasonal Festivals: Summer

Immerse yourself in the vibrant spirit of summer in Japan with our guide to its most dynamic seasonal festivals. Experience the energy and devotion of Tokyo's Sanja Matsuri, the historical elegance of Kyoto's Gion Festival, and the dramatic flair of Aomori's Nebuta Matsuri, among others. Summer in Japan brings an explosion of cultural festivities, each with its unique traditions and exuberant celebrations. These festivals not only illuminate the warmest season of the year but also offer a deep dive into the heart of Japan's rich cultural heritage.

Tokyo: Sanja Matsuri

3rd weekend of May

This is a very wild festival held at the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, the oldest temple in Tokyo, for three days. While the three mikoshi (portable shrines) parade in the streets, you will also experience traditional music and dancing.

Sanja Matsuri

Kyoto: Gion Festival

All of July

Known as one of the most major festivals in Japan, this festival has a history of about 1000 years, one of the oldest. It lasts the entire month of July, with different events happening in different areas each day. The climax of the festival is the day that floats are paraded along the downtown streets of Kyoto, pulled by the participants. The crowd is massive every year.

Gion Festival

Sumida River Fireworks

Last Saturday of July

This is one of the most largest and popular firework festivals held in the Tokyo area. It is held in the Ryogoku area, so you may be able to see the fireworks and Tokyo Skytree in the same sky.

Sumida River Fireworks

Kochi: Yosakoi Matsuri

Early August

The Yosakoi is a very energetic style of dance, a modern rendition of the Awa Odori dance.

Yosakoi Matsuri

Aomori: Nebuta Matsuri

Aug. 2nd to 7th every year

The Nebuta Matsuri is a nighttime event, one of the largest festivals held in northern Japan. Enormous colorful floats made of paper are lit up from inside and are paraded along with traditional dancing and singing.

Nebuta Matsuri

Yamagata: Hanagasa Matsuri

Aug. 5th to 7th every year

This relatively new but popular event consists of 10,000 local dancers holding straw hats decorated with artificial flowers.

Hanagasa Matsuri


Tokushima: Awa Odori Festival

Aug. 12th to 15th

This dance was originated from a dance party that was held back in 1586, in celebration of the opening of the Tokushima Castle. Movements of the drunken people at this party are what became the choreography of the Awa Odori today.

Awa Odori Festival

Ishikawa: Ishizaki Ho-To Matsuri

First Saturday of August

This is a festival where tall lanterns are carried by 100 people each. These lanterns are called kiriko and they each weigh about 2 tons. The music in this festival is played by children riding on the lanterns.

Ishizaki Ho-To Matsuri

©Ishikawa Prefectural Tourism League

Toyama: Tonami Yotaka Matsuri

2nd Friday and Saturday of June

This festival has a history of about 500 years and is said to be the roots of the widely-known Nebuta festival in Aomori. Big colorful floats lighted up from the inside will march and sometimes battle with each other under the night sky.

Tonami Yotaka Matsuri