Summertime is the best time for festival culture in Japan—from parades, to period costumes, to fireworks…and even human-powered flying machines!
2018 Gion Festival – Kyoto
The Gion Matsuri is a month-long festival that takes place in Kyoto in July each year . The biggest draw are the parades (called Yamaboko Junkō) on the 17th and 24th of the month.
Hakata Gion Yamakasa – Fukuoka
Join one million other spectators where men race elaborately decorated floats (weighing in at 1 ton!) at this festival whose history goes back 750 years.
Grand Sumo Tournament – Aichi
This July is host to one of the six major basho (tournaments) that take place in Japan each year. For 15 days, see the iconic Japanese battle play out in Nagoya. General seating starts at ¥2,900 for adults and tickets are sold at the arena from 7:45am (and sometimes earlier) on the day.
Ise Shrine Dedication Fireworks Festival – Mie
The Miyakawa River will once again be illuminated by over 10,000 fireworks as the annual firework competition takes place. Pyrotechnicians from across the country will compete to create the best displays, with the festival being one the three largest in Japan.
Nagoya Port Fireworks Festival – Aichi
Enjoy a quaint and colorful evening along the Nagoya Port with a display of 3,000 fireworks.
Yamaguchi Gion Matsuri – Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi was modeled after Kyoto and this festival is a testament to their bond. The festivities are started with the traditional local Dance of the Heron, deemed a Folk Cultural Property.
Italia, Mia Amore – Aichi
A celebration of all things Italian, head to Nagoya TV Tower for cookery deomostrations from top chefs, fashion shows, opera singing, contemporary live music and even some football players!
Marine Festa in Kuchinotsu – Nagasaki
A port town which has prospered from the sea in terms of fishing and trade holds this annual Marine Festival by way of thanks. The first evening features boat parades and performances and the second day includes a dragon boat race and fireworks display.
Hita Gion Festival – Oita
A local Gion festival which is billed as one of the top three annual festivals in Kyushu. Expect large mikoshi (portable shrines) parades through narrow streets and a great atmosphere.
Minato Matsuri Fireworks Display: – Wakayama
Using the city lights as the perfect backdrop, over 3,000 fireworks will be launched in Wakayama. Originally created to pray for the port’s safety and to bring visitors to the area, the festival grows in popularity every year.
Kiso Mikoshi Festival – Nagano
This festival add its own twist (quite literally) to the traditional mikoshi parades of festivals elsewhere in Japan. As the 375kg portable shrines are carried through the streets, the men flip them as they go. The main event is on the 23rd but there are fireworks on the 22nd.
Tenjin Festival – Osaka
One of Japan’s top three festivals, the Tenjin Matsuri starts off with a procession of 3,000 people dressed in the style of courtiers of the 8th to 12th centuries, after which the participants get on boats at Tenmanbashi Bridge and sail up river. As the sun sets, fires are lit on board the vessels, creating a spectacle for those on the banks. The festival ends with a fireworks display.
2018 Doshin/UHB Fireworks Festival – Hokkaido
Set up along the Toyohira River for Hokkaido’s most popular fireworks show. Four-thousand fireworks will illuminate the Sapporo night sky.
Nagahama and Kitabiwako Great Fireworks – Shiga
Over 10,000 rockets are launched over the lake in this impressive display. The best viewing spot is Ho Park and although times have not yet been released, it should be around 7pm.
Tobata Gion Yamagasa Festival – Fukuoka
A festival that dates back over 200 years, this event features the carrying of tall floats (the yamagasa) which are adorned with lanterns at night. It’s a really impressive sight and has been recognized as an Intangible Cultural Asset.
Beppu Fire and Sea Festival – Oita
A three-day festival with all the perks of food stalls, performances, markets and culminating in one of the biggest fireworks displays in Kyushu!
Kihoku Lantern Festival – Mie
During the late afternoon, an elaborate floating lantern is set afloat in the harbor, and in the evening, a huge fireworks display is put on. Nicknamed the Saiun Kujaku (rainbow peacock), it’s a sight to behold!
Kuwana Suigo Fireworks Festival – Mie
Celebrating the completion of the Ise Bridge in 1934, this fireworks festival sees the launch of over 10,000 rockets in an incredible display. There are a combination of over and underwater fireworks including Niagara Falls and star mines!
Nagasaki Port Festival – Nagasaki
This summer events has fireworks on both nights and is situated in one of the prettiest harbors in Japan too! There are 7,000 rockets on the first night and 3,000 on the second night, so keep that in mind if choosing between the two!
Ono-Hiyoshi Shrine Sanno Festival – Ishikawa
Held to welcome summer, this two-day festival features highlights like demon payment day and a Lion Dance, with unusual costumes and performances which have been deemed an Intangible Folk Cultural Property.
The 41st Japan International Birdman Rally – Shiga
One of Japan’s more unique festivals, participants (or “bird men”) will attempt to fly as far as possible into the lake with the help of human-powered flying machines.
Minato Maizuru Chatta Festival – Kyoto
This annual festival ends with a huge fireworks display launched from a ship floating in the bay. You can watch from the beach and enjoy the offerings of the many food stalls and performances during the weekend.
Shirahama Fireworks Festival – Wakayama
Another fantastic fireworks festival set in the bay at this popular beach in Wakayama. Running since 1948, over 3,500 fireworks will be launched including a Niagara Falls display.
Sumiyoshi Matsuri – Osaka
The highlight of this three-day festival is the nagoshi harai shinji ritual where participants (women and children) processioning through a straw rope ring wearing Muromachi period costume.
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|Location(s):||Aichi, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Mie, Miyagi, Nagasaki, Oita, Osaka, Shiga, Wakayama, Yamaguchi,|
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