Special Events

Events in Japan

Japan's Summer Festivals


There are a myriad of summer festivals held in Japan. Religious festivals, performance festivals, dance festivals and of course, firework festivals. Some offer paid seating, but most are first-come, first-serve on the day of the event, so it is a good idea to arrive early to get a good viewing spot. Once you've staked out your claim, it's always fun to wander around and enjoy the atmosphere. People come with friends and family, and the mood is very pleasant and relaxed; there are many food and game stalls to check out. Festivals provide a great opportunity for visitors to join in the summer fun! The resounding musical accompaniments provide a percussive beat that is a wonderful experience.


Gion Matsuri Festival (Kyoto)

The main parades are in the middle of July, with smaller events spanning into the month.

Festival 2017

Gion Matsuri is one of the three biggest festivals in Japan and is well known for its long history, magnificence and its grand scale. This highly elaborate festival runs for the entire month of July. There are several main events and many smaller ones, including dance and musical performances, comic plays, displays of artistic treasures and more. On festive evenings during Yoiyama, the preceding processions display two types of floats, the smaller Yama and much larger Hoko, decorated with beautifully designed and illuminated lanterns that lend a magical touch to an already enchanting atmosphere. The highlight of the festival is Yamaboko Jyunko, an impressive procession of floats in the middle of July that attracts many visitors from all over the world.

For more information about Gion matsuri festival, please visit here.


Sendai Tanabata Matsuri Festivals (Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture)

Early August

Festival 2017

Enjoy the world's most elegant festival of paper and bamboo. The Tanabata festival is known as the star festival, originating from Chinese folklore depicting two stars, Vega and Altair, that crossed paths. Usually Tanabata is celebrated on July 7th every year across Japan but the festival is held in August in accordance with the lunar calendar. The Sendai Tanabata Festival is one of the most famous Tanabata festivals in Japan with more than two million visitors every year. Gorgeous decorations made with bamboo and Japanese colored paper are on display in the center of the city. There are also simple traditional bamboo decorations, called Sasatake. Sasatake is a "wish tree" where people can write their wishes on striped paper and tie them to the tree's branches in hopes they will come true. A great fireworks display held the night before the festival with approximately 16,000 explosions light up the sky of Sendai city.

For more information, please visit here.


Yosakoi Matsuri Festival (Kochi prefecture)

Middle of August

Festival 2017

The Kochi Prefecture faces the Pacific Ocean and is very mountainous. Kochi is famous for its Yosakoi Matsuri Festival. "Yosakoi" means "Come on over tonight" and once you hear the infectious music, you will want to do exactly that. The festival takes place mid-August. About 200 groups of dancers (about 18,000 dancers in all) fill the streets. They all dance to the same traditional song but in their own unique style using wooden clappers that sound like loud castanets. The dancers wear yukatas (cotton summer kimonos), happi coats (short kimono jackets), and even princess outfits. It is an energetic festival that you shouldn't miss.

For more information, please visit here.

Summertime Fireworks Festivals and Bonfire

Even during summer nights when the temperature doesn't seem to drop nearly as much as it should after the sun sets, the bedazzling spectacle of fireworks usually works its magic and helps us forget the hot and muggy heat of the night. The Japanese word for fireworks is "hanabi," "hana" meaning flower and "bi" meaning fire. Interestingly, the art of fireworks design began with artisans arranging flowers that nature created.

Of the thousands of fireworks festivals held in Japan every summer, below is a brief smattering of some of the greatest knock-your-socks-off displays.

Miyajima Water Fireworks Display (Miyajima, Hiroshima)

End of August

Festivals 2017

Launched from boats off Miyajima's north shore, about 200 fireworks from the festival's total 5,000 fireworks are launched directly behind the torii gate of the Itsukushima Shrine, which is the central point of the show. The fireworks can also be seen from special sightseeing boat tours circling the bay. The fireworks theme changes annually, but it never fails to enchant and impress the hundreds of thousands of on-lookers who gather on Miyajima as well as on the nearby shore of Hiroshima. If the tide is low enough, you can walk directly up to the front of the shrine, which has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For more information, please visit here.


Omagari National Fireworks Competition (Akita)

End of August

Festivals 2017

The only fireworks display competition held while it is still light outside (starting about 5:30pm) is in Omagari, Akita and is considered the most prestigious competition by fireworks experts. The fireworks artisans compete in shooting off their own crafted fireworks, and government awards are presented to the winner. Held annually in August, the themes are predetermined, often with accompanying music, and the originality of the displays are testimony to the creativity and artistic sensibility of each fireworks creator. There is a bountiful array of food and beverage stalls.

For more information, please visit here.


Daimonji Gozan-no-Okuribi (Mountain Bonfire) (Kyoto)

Middle of August

Festivals 2017

Different from most firework displays in Japan, Kyoto's famous Gozan-no-Okuribi is actually a bonfire, displaying massive Chinese characters or symbols on the slope of five mountains. This is one of Kyoto's unique religious ceremonies in summer. According to folklore, Okuribi guide the souls of their ancestors who return to this world during the Obon season (middle of August) back to the world beyond. Gozan-no-Okuribi consists of six characters or symbols on five mountains that surround Kyoto city. The bonfires light up one after another and create a mystical atmosphere in Kyoto city

For more information, please visit here.

Enjoy the opportunities to experience spectacular and stunning fireworks in Japan this summer.

Glowing Summer Festivals

Most festivals in Japan feature highly skilled dancers and musicians, almost magical appearing feats of strength and balance, and lively good fun. Many of the following summer festivals have a wonderful yin-yang feeling - the sheer pounding excitement of a hot summer's night festival accompanied by the beautifully lit and illustrated floats and lanterns.

Yamaga Lantern Festival (Kumamoto)

Middle of August

Glowing Summer Festivals

About 1,000 women wear yukata and dance to traditional music with lanterns strapped to their heads while men wearing traditional costumes recreate the path that the emperor supposedly followed home long ago when he and his entourage became lost one foggy night. It was the light of the lanterns lit by the Yamaga locals that guided them home and this is re-enacted during the festival. Yamaga's lanterns are an exceptional and stunning traditional craft, made only from the paper of local Kozo fiber and a small amount of glue. Only a few craftsmen can make Yamaga Lanterns.

For more information about the festival, please visit here.


Shourou-nagashi (The Spirit Boat Procession) (Nagasaki)

Middle of August

Glowing Summer Festivals

An event that is a heartwarming mix of liveliness and solemnity, Shoro Nagashi consists of boats that float down the river and is said to carry the spirits of the deceased from the past year. Boats vary in size, construction material and construction method, and many are decorated with items which represent the deceased. They are accompanied by firecrackers, gongs and special shouts. There is a belief that the firecrackers ward off evil spirits. In the past, the boats left to the waters of Nagasaki Bay, but due to pollution concerns, this is no longer the case, and the boats are disassembled after the festivities subside.

For more information about this event, please visit here.


Tokyo Tower Summer Light Fantasia (Tokyo)

Middle of June to early September

Glowing Summer Festivals

A Beautiful projection mapping show is playing at the main observatory at the second floor of Tokyo Tower. The theme is "Summer Light Fantasia," and features starry skies, fireflies, fireworks and the deep blue sea. The spectacular fantasy is shown along the backdrop of Tokyo's night sky. The show is performed on three sides of the observatory - Aurora rising from laser beams projected onto smoke clouds on the East side, a vivid lighting show is accompanied by background music on the North side and on the West side, a typical beach atmosphere is presented with dolphins.

The performance associated with summer offers a remarkable experience and is invigorating when seen along with Tokyo's summer night sky.

For more information, please visit here.





Events in the US: Save the Date!

Experience Japan in US! J POP SUMMIT & JAPAN FEST

Two exciting, major Japanese events are coming soon to San Francisco, CA and Duluth, GA. Come and soak up the outstanding Japanese atmosphere. Enjoy the great occasion to discover Japan in the US!

J-POP SUMMIT 2017

J pop summitSeptember 9th (Sat) & 10th (Sun), 2017
Venue: Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture in San Francisco, CA

San Francisco will welcome back its annual J-POP SUMMIT, one of the largest Japanese cultural festivals in the US. The summit introduces the latest in Japanese music, fashion, film, art, games, tech-innovations, anime, food, sake and more. The Japanese rock vocalist May’n will be back performing at the summit since her first appearance in 2014. She sings many Japanese anime theme songs including Aquarion Logos, MACROSS Frontier and Accel World. A Ramen Summit held at the same place provides a great chance to indulge in various ramen noodles from many top ramen restaurants. The summit has many more things to offer. The tickets are available now.

For more information, please click here.


Japan Fest

JapanFest 2017

September 16th (Sat) & 17th (Sun), 2017
Venue: Infinite Energy Center in Duluth, GA

JapanFest is an annual celebration of Japanese culture and is the largest Japanese festival in the Southeast. The festival actively introduces and exhibit Japanese anime, fashion, music, technology and tradition. The festival features the best Japanese cuisine in Atlanta. Indulge in tasting a variety of foods like sushi, noodles and curry rice and so much more. This is also a great opportunity to shop for Japanese goods including kimono, bonsai and sake. For one night only, enjoy world-class performances featuring Japanese and Western Instruments. Tickets are available now.

For more information, please visit here.
Please click here to download the official poster.



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