March marks the officially start to spring, and the quietest corners of Japan are waking from the winter hibernation for some fiery celebrations and film festivals. Wherever you are in the country, there will be something exciting to see and make your March memorable!

For events in Tokyo and the surrounding area, please visit our listings on Tokyo Cheapo.

Kansai events

These are events in Kyoto, Osaka, Hyōgo, Mie, and the surrounding areas.

Omizutori Festival

An annual event, the Omizutori Festival is one of the oldest Buddhist recurrent events and dates back 1,250 years. Large numbers of torches are lit and hung from the balcony of the temple and people gather below them to be cleansed of sins and to look forward to a fresh start when the cherry blossom emerges. If you are showered with the embers from the hanging torches, it is considered good luck and you will be protected from evil.

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Experience Tea Ceremony in Kyoto
Dive into Japanese history with a traditional tea ceremony, together with a visit to Byōdōin Temple -- made famous on the 10-yen coin! Highlights Experience an authentic Japanese tea ceremony Visit a famous Buddhist temple Taste Kyoto's unique sweets Your guide will show you the historical sights of Uji, Kyoto's tea-growing district, pointing out old tea shops and other interesting ...

Note: For 2023, no one will be allowed to watch the events on March 11 and 12 and there will be limited spectators on the other days.

Osaka Asian Film Festival

The rallying cry of this annual film festival is “From Osaka to All of Asia!” and involves screenings of films from 19 countries and regions including Macao, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, Greece, the USA and of course, Japan. This is the 18th iteration of OAFF and there will be screening over 50 films, including several international premieres.

Grand Sumo Tournament

Photo by Alex Ziminski

The Sumo roadshow docks in Osaka for its annual March tournament and offers the Kansai locals a chance to see the wrestlers in action. While the first few days, weekends, and final two days are the most crowded, it is easier than Tokyo to get seats on the other days.

Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival

Photo by Takahiro Asai used under CC

In preparation for this fiery festival, the 13 neighborhoods that once surrounded the castle of the famed  16th-century warlord Oda Nobunaga construct complex floats using straw, bamboo and paper to compete for the top prize. Once a winner has been crowned, they are all burned together and men dance beside the flames.

Kitano Odori

Maiko used for Kamogawa Odori Image
Photo by

A chance to see one of the traditional Geisha (known as Geiko in Kyoto) performances in Kyoto, the annual Kitano Odori features Geiko from the Kamishichen Area. Running since 1952, they have two performances a day.

Ninnaji Flower Festival

Ninnaji Temple cherry blossoms
Photo by

Kyoto’s Ninnaji Temple is famous for its cherry blossoms. Especially it’s very own variety, known as Omoro-zakura, which typically bloom a week or so later than the standard-bearer Somei Yoshino variety. Ninnaji’s annual spring festival is actually about more than just sakura — there are exhibitions, too.

Kiyomizu-dera Spring Illuminations

To celebrate the changing of seasons, Kiyomizu-dera opens up in the evening three times a year (autumn, spring, and summer) and holds an illumination event to brighten up the foliage. The pagoda, temple, and Jojuin Garden will be lit up.

Chūbu events

These are events in Nagano, Aichi, Fukui, and surrounding areas.

Souriike Plum Blossom Festival

One of the later destinations thanks to the cooler temperatures at this end of Japan, the pond known as Souriike is next to a park filled with over 5000 plum trees. There are 25 varieties and you’ll find blossoms a long walk or short bus ride from Teramoto Station.

Nagoya Women’s Marathon

Nagoya Women’s Marathon is sponsored by Tiffany & Co. which makes the race sparkle for all the right reasons. It has claimed the title of the biggest women’s marathon in the world. The race starts and finishes at Vantelin Dome Nagoya but it also hits the main sights of Nagoya, such as Nagoya Castle.

Shizuoka Matsuri

The Shizuoka Festival is Shizuoka City’s biggest spring festival. The three day event features a yatai-mura (outdoor food village), cherry blossoms, parades, performances, and cosplay. In fact, there’s not much that the Shizuoka Matsuri doesn’t have.

Kyūshū & Okinawa events

Huis Ten Bosch Tulip Festival

There’s a little Netherlands in Nagasaki and in spring it transforms itself into a tulip paradise. There will be several sections in the theme park Huis Ten Bosch that celebrate the flower. Jump on the swing for two at Flower Road, grab some ice cream in Flower Square, feel like royalty at the palace, and enjoy the illuminated tulips at night.

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Filed under: Things to Do

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