Summertime is the best time for festival culture in Japan—from parades, to period costumes, to fireworks…and even human-powered flying machines!

japan events july
Tenjin Matsuri, one of Japan’s top three festivals | Photo by elmimmo used under CC

2019 Gion Festival – Kyoto

gion matsuri
Photo by Yoichiro Uno used under CC

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

Photo by shin7d used under CC

Join 1 million spectators as men race elaborately decorated floats (weighing in at 1 ton!) at this festival whose history goes back 750 years.

Grand Sumo Tournament – Aichi

Photo by Paul Williams used under CC

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 7:45 am (and sometimes earlier) on the day.

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Ise Shrine Dedication Fireworks Festival – Mie

Ise Fireworks
Photo by Takashi Nishimura used under CC

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.

Corona Sunsets Festival – Okinawa

Corona Sunsets Okinawa
Photo by iFlyer

A music festival with a laid-back atmosphere, this event runs for two days on a sandy beach in Okinawa. Headliners include Jose Gonzalez, Amp Fiddler and Naoki Serizawa, plus Terrace House star Eden Kai. Having started in Ibiza a few years ago, it has a solid reputation and more headliners are set to be announced soon.

Nagoya Port Fireworks Festival – Aichi

Photo by Emran Kassim used under CC

Enjoy a quaint and colorful evening along the Nagoya Port with a display of 3,000 fireworks.

Sapporo Summer Festival – Hokkaido

Photo by MIKI Yoshihito used under CC

An umbrella event with lots of smaller different celebrations and festivals, this is a great time to be in the city. There’s a huge beer garden, a traditional bon odori festival and much more.

Koto Music Performances – Nagoya

Koto Perfomance
Photo by Michiyo Yagi Koto School

Enjoy a performance of the traditional Japanese intrument, the Koto. Playing contemporary and traditional songs, the ensemble will be lead by Michiyo Yagi with performances from Takashi Sugawa, Christopher Hardy and guest Koto player Maki Isogai.

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.

Yamaguchi Gion Matsuri – Yamaguchi

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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.

Kiso Mikoshi Festival – Nagano

Photo by Kiso Tourist Office

This festival add its own twist (quite literally) to the traditional mikoshi parades of festivals elsewhere in Japan. As the 375 kg 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

cheapo july events in Japan - tenjin matsuri
Tenjin Matsuri, one of Japan’s top three festivals | Photo by elmimmo used under CC

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.

2019 Doshin/UHB Fireworks Festival – Hokkaido

Photo by Takeshi Kawai used under CC

Set up along the Toyohira River for Hokkaido’s most popular fireworks show. Four-thousand fireworks will illuminate the Sapporo night sky.

Tobata Gion Yamagasa Festival – Fukuoka

Photo by kenken used under CC

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

Photo by Simon Helle Nielsen used under CC

A three-day festival with all the perks of food stalls, performances, markets and culminating in one of the biggest fireworks displays in Kyushu!

Nagahama and Kitabiwako Great Fireworks – Shiga

Biwa Fireworks
Photo by Party Lin used under CC

Over 10,000 rockets are launched over the lake in this impressive display. The best viewing spot is Ho Park. Although times have not yet been released, the event should take place around 7pm.

Kihoku Lantern Festival – Mie

japan july events

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

Kuwana Fireworks
Kuwana Fireworks | Photo by Emran Kassim used under CC

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!

All Japan Selection Nagara River Chunichi Fireworks Display – Gifu

More fireworks (for Nagara River)
Photo by Zen Game used under CC

One of two giant fireworks competitions held this summer, here you can see pyrotechnicians from across the country battle it out with their best designs. There are day displays from 12pm, food stalls and then the main event in the evening.

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.

Nagasaki Port Festival – Nagasaki

Photo by 663highland used under CC

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 42nd Japan International Birdman Rally – Shiga

Photo by Toyohara used under CC

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

Photo by George N used under CC

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.

Minato Matsuri Fireworks Display – Wakayama

Minato Fireworks
Photo by Kabacchi used under CC

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.

Shirahama Fireworks Festival – Wakayama

Photo by Andrea Schiavon used under CC

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

Photo by boz_rock used under CC

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 costumes.

Kuroishi Neputa Festival – Aomori

Kuroishi Neputa Festival
Photo by sodai gomi used under CC

One of the smaller Neputa festivals fo northern Japan, this is nonetheless a stunning display of huge lanterns. The main days ar the 30th and 2nd when the 50 floats gather together.

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