This month marks the start of summer fun, so grab your yukata and get ready for dance parades, beer festivals and tea ceremonies galore. Here’s a round-up of the best June events in Japan.
Whether you’re after incredible dance performances or chilled-out tea sessions, there’s something for everyone this month in Japan. Every prefecture has their own summer traditions and new celebrations—all great to experience and unlikely to be similar to anything else you’ve seen.
Kyushu Beer Festival | May 27th – June 5th | Fukuoka
A craft beer festival with a great selection of Japanese brewers. This event is free to enter and beers cost ¥500–¥600 each, depending on how many beer tickets you buy. There will be stalls from Far Yeast, Hokkaido Abashiri Brewery, Shimane Breweries, Kakuida Brewery, Munemasa Palace Brewery and Brewmaster—the latter of which is the only one that’s actually from Fukuoka. There will be plenty of food stalls to help soak up your drinks too, so you don’t have to worry about lunch!
Hiroshima Toukasan Matsuri | June 1st – 3rd | Hiroshima
This annual event is a yukata festival that marks the start of summer—which is when the lighter versions of kimono are worn. Large crowds of over 450,000 people will gather over the three days to receive blessings at Enryu-ji Temple, and the festival runs from noon to 10pm each day, with evenings seeing the most action.
Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Festival | June 1st – 3rd | Ishikawa
This spectacular festival celebrates rich culture and old traditions of Kanazawa, which was once a major urban center of Edo-era Japan. The three days all have different schedules, with Saturday being the busiest. Friday evening has a lantern and taiko display, Saturday has a tea ceremony, dance parade and Noh performance, and Sunday has tea ceremony and traditional bon festivities.
Horikawa Festival | June 2nd – 3rd | Aichi
This festival features two distinct but equally impressive days. On the first is an evening procession of taiko drums and lantern-covered structures. On the second day, you can watch a huge tower being towed through the streets, which includes impressive negotiation of power lines!
Onsen Gastronomy Walking Tour | June 3rd | Fukushima
A great chance to experience the food, history and hot springs of Aizu Wakamatsu—a historical town with lots to see. You’ll be stopping at Dairyuji Temple and a samurai residence where delicious dishes will be served. The tour finishes at a hot spring, with geisha, and food prepared by a French-trained chef with local ingredients.
Chagu Chagu Umakko | June 9th | Iwate
Watch as 100 elaborately dressed horses make their way between Onikoshi Sozen Shrine in Takizawa to Morioka Hachimangu Shrine. The horses are decorated with bells, leading to the name of the festival, which is onomatopoeic of the sound they make as the horses walk.
Yosakoi Soran Festival | June 6th – 10th | Hokkaido
Filling Odori Park in Sapporo with crowds, the Yosakoi Festival has been a major event in the city since 1992. Features teams of dancers performing energetically in bright costumes, with flags, chanting and lots of drum-heavy music. On weekdays, events take place in the evening, and on the weekend there is entertainment from 10am until the evening.
Tohoku Jibiiru (Craft Beer) Festival | June 15th – 17th | Akita
A great chance to try some of northern Japan’s best beers, this festival has paired up with the Tohoku Meat Festival for a weekend of locally sourced deliciousness. Brewers include North Island from Hokkaido, Iwate-kura, Tazawa-ko and the host brewery Akita Akura. Entry is free, but be sure to check the times as they differ each day.
Himeji Yukata Festival | June 22nd – 24th | Hyogo
Said to be the oldest yukata festival in Japan, this event is the first official chance for the people of Himeji to don their summer outfits, and something like 70 percent of attendees wear one. There are over 700 food and drink stalls to peruse, and yukata-wearers receive discounts on various things—including free entry to the zoo and Himeji Castle.
Izawanomiya Otaue Festival | June 24th | Mie
This is one of the three major Otaue festivals in Japan, and is recognized as an intangible cultural asset. A rice planting festival, there’s ritual planting, and groups of men in loin clothes scramble to carry off a blue bamboo pole placed in a field. The mythology involves sharks visiting the shrine, so local fishermen suspend fishing on the day of the festival.
Aizen Festival | June 30th – July 2nd | Osaka
Considered to be Osaka’s first major summer festival of the year, it’s also one of the prefecture’s three biggest—and a great spectacle if you don’t mind big crowds. The most popular event is the Hoekago Parade on the 30th, where a lady is carried in a basket during a parade around Aizendo Temple.