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Catherine and her team...were able to put together a trip with exactly the kind of experiences we were dreaming of.
A Family from Europe

JAPAN
FESTIVALS & EVENTS

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In Japan, it can seem as if the festivals and events never end. With roots in ancient traditions, the Japanese have plenty to celebrate, from the coming of spring, with the accompanying sweet scent of cherry blossoms, to religious ceremonies for luck and prosperity. It’s at their festivals when you’ll see Japan’s true colors, when everyone comes out of their shells to dance, sing, and celebrate.

Date
Location
February
Sapporo

Sapporo Snow Festival

February 5-11 2017

Increasingly popular, the Sapporo Snow Festival attracts visitors from all over the world for seven days of snowy fun in Hokkaido. Ice sculpture contests and sparkling artistic ice creations create a stunning winter wonderland. Visitors enjoy several snow slides and snow rafting.

 
 
March
Tokyo

Tokyo Art Fair

March 17-19 2017

Launched in 2011, Tokyo’s innovative art fair celebrates Japan’s unique modern art from up and coming artist. A smash hit from the start, the creative program works with technology and tradition to incorporate clay works, media art and photography. The two-day festival also offers several workshops on different styles of art.

 
 
April-May
Countrywide

Hanami - Cherry Blossom Season

April-May yearly

Japan’s Cherry Blossom festival takes place throughout the country in the springtime, in conjunction with the blooming of the delicate and fragrant cherry blossoms, which lasts for about two weeks. Crowds from all over the country gather amongst the flowering trees, with parties going late into the night.

 
 
April/October
Takayama (Nagoya)

Takayama Matsuri

April 14-15 2017 | October 9-10 2016

Autumn and spring are welcomed in the Takayama area outside of Nagoya at what is considered one of the most beautiful festivals in Japan – the Takayama Festival. During October and April spectators enjoy significant cultural displays of motifs and lanterns at the Hachiman Matsuri and Sakurayama Hachiman Shrines.

 
 
May
Kyoto

Aoi Matsuri

15 May 2017

Parading through Kyoto’s most important Shrines, Aoi Matsuri is a colorful procession in honor of the ancient officials who delivered the emperor’s messages to the two shrines of Shimogamo and Kamigamo. Hollyhock, kimonos and traditional blades take spectators back to Imperial times as the day begins with an elaborate display.

 
 
July-September
Ishikawa (Noto Peninsula)

Noto Kirico Matsuri

Early July-mid September 2016

Translating directly into the Fire and Violence festival, this notable celebration takes place in Noto Peninsula. Majestic Kiriko lanterns light up the night sky. Brave men climb into the sea to light three torches as the pinnacle of the festival. Celebrated throughout the Summer, this collection of festivals is a delight for the eyes.

 
 
July
Kyoto

Gion Matsuri

July 1-31 2017

Also known as the Awa Dance festival, the three-day Awaodori festival is celebrated on Shikoku island, in Tokushima prefecture. The lively city-wide party involves, as the name implies, choreographed dances and music, with performers sporting traditional Obon costumes as they parade through the streets.

 
 
July
Osaka

Tenjin Matsuri

July 24-25 2016

This millenium-old Summer festival takes place over two days at Tenman Shrine in Osaka, and features performing arts, a land procession with some 3,000 people, as well as a boat procession around Tenmabashi Bridge. The boats are lit up by fire in the evening, creating a warm glow on the river, and fireworks are set off.

 
 
August
Aomori

Neputa Matsuri

August 2-7 2016

Glowing lanterns light up the dark night sky at the Nebuta Festival in the northern Japanese city of Aomori. Samurai-shaped lanterns are set off for five days every August to wake up the sleepy souls in preparation for the fall harvest. Last year the festival attracted over 37 million sightseers from all over the world.

 
 
August
Tokyo

Sendai Tanabata

August 6-8 2016

Ranked among the most famous festivals in Tokyo as well as one of the three largest – the Sendai Tanabata Festival celebrates the colorful Shogun culture. Reminiscent of the Edo Period (1603 – 1867) visitors enjoy stepping back in time as they observe intricate floats and extravagant parades for two full days.

 
 
August
Kyoto

Gozan Okuribi (Daimonji Bonfires)

August 16 2017

Fires light the night sky on the Daimonji Mountain in Nyoigatake near Kyoto. The fires are lit at 8pm and remain flaming for 30 minutes. Torches and bonfires serve as a form of prayer for the Okuribi people. Blazing bonfires are best viewed from the Banks of Kamogawa River or in front of Doshisha University during this two-day festival.

 
 
August
Shiga

Biwa Lake Fireworks

August 8 2016

Observers stand in awe as 10,000 fireworks shoot off into the night sky above Japan's largest lake, Lake Biwa in Shiga. Launched from Otsu Port, this night-long festival is a treat for the eyes in addition to being one of the largest and grandest firework shows in all of Asia. This is one of three major festivals in the stunning, natural area.

 
 
August
Shikoku Island

Awaodori Festival

August 2017

Also known as the Awa Dance festival, the three-day Awaodori festival is celebrated on Shikoku island, in Tokushima prefecture. The lively city-wide party involves, as the name implies, choreographed dances and music, with performers sporting traditional Obon costumes as they parade through the streets.

 
 
August
Kochi

Yosakoi Festival

August 9-12 2016

“Come on over tonight” or “Yosakoi” in the local dialect, is a fun-filled festival taking place every summer in the vibrant city of Kochi. Created to dispel gloom after a severe recession in 1954, nearly 15,000 dancers, including the mayor and the governor, flood the streets as the festival sweeps over the city.

 
 
August
Okinawa

Eisa Okinawan Folk Dance Festival

August 19-21 2016

Drums sound as dancers of all ages display their talents at the three-day Eisa Festival in Okinawa, Japan. Performed during the Obon season, this festival follows the lunar calendar and falls during the Summer season. Visitors enjoy cultural dance performances by locals dressed in the traditional style.

 
 
October
Nagasaki

Nagasaki Kunchi

October 7-9 2017

Held annually in October for the last 370 years, the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival celebrates a fusion of Dutch and Chinese cultures within Japan. Incorporating traditional Japanese dances, Chinese dragon dances, elaborate floats and many cultural performances, the three-day festival is a celebration of harmonious cultures.

 
 
October
Fukoaka

Hakata Okunchi

October 23-24 2017

Celebrating the rich harvest of October, the Autumn Festival of Kushida Shrine is 1200 years old. Children parade about the streets in traditional, ritual costumes performing different cultural dances. With beauty contests, live bands and a bustling market, there’s plenty to see at Hakata’s favorite festival.

 
 
Meet An Asia Expert
From Our Blog
A frequent visitor to Japan, our General Manager Victoria Hilley loves the local food as well as petting the cute deer in Nara.
Contact now See all
 
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• Land of Cherry Blossoms: Southern Japan Highlights
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• Tokachigawa to Sapporo: Hokkaido Winter Magic
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