May 2018: Top Cheapo Events Around Japan

Lily Crossley-Baxter

May is certainly busy in Japan, with a whole flurry of festivals just in the first weekend for Golden Week!

Aoi Festival Kyoto
Aoi Festival, Kyoto | Photo by Japanexperterna used under CC

Wherever you are in Japan, you’ll find something to see, be it a samurai procession, a Brazilian Festival or even a Kite flying competition! Take your pick from the amazing events filling the calendar, and be sure to keep an eye out for any new additions!

Kamogawa Odori |  1st – 24th  May |  Kyoto

Your final chance to see one of the city’s annual Geisha performances, this show features Geiko and Maiko from the Pontocho area of Kyoto. In a small theater built specifically for this event and said to make it one of the most intimate of the shows, you can choose between tickets with or without Maiko tea ceremony included.

 Kamogawa Odori

Kamogawa Odori
Dates:1st May–24th May, 2019
Entry:¥2,300 – ¥4,800

Hakata Dontake Festival | April 3rd – 4th  |  Fukuoka

Photo by VAYardly used under CC

This is thought to be the largest of the Golden Week festivals in Japan, drawing crowds from across the country. Famed for the extravagant costumes worn by the competing teams, the festival dates back to 1179 and was originally a celebration of the Chinese New Year. It was eventually banned for its perceived extravagance but returned as the Dontaku festival not long after.

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Sake Spring Kyoto  |  Kyoto

Photo by Raita Futo used under CC

This is the perfect opportunity to try over 150 different varieties of nihonshu from 50 different brewers who travel from across Japan to attend. If you get your tickets in advance they cost only ¥3,500 and allow you to try all the sake you can handle, with a cheaper ticket available for entry after 3pm. There are movies, music and food to go with the drinks, so you can make an afternoon of it!

 Hakata Dontaku Festival

Dates:3rd May–4th May, 2019

Hiroshima Flower Festival |  April 3rd – 5th  |  Hiroshima

Offering more than the name suggests, the Hiroshima flower festival includes a yosakoi dance festival, flower queen contest, parades and illuminations at night. Over 100 teams compete in the Yosakoi on the 5th and there will be stage performances too, so there’s certainly enough to keep you entertained.

 Hiroshima Flower Festival

Dates:3rd May–5th May, 2019

Hamamatsu Festival |  May 3rd – 5th  | Shizuoka

Photo by J-Ph Derout used under CC

A festival split in two, this event features some traditional elements alongside its kite-flying day on the 3rd. On all three days, in the early evening, a procession takes place near Hamamatsu Station with floats resembling temples and carrying musicians by Hamamatsu station. There will be buses running to the kite-flying site from there, costing ¥260 each way.

 Hamamatsu Festival

Dates:3rd May–5th May, 2019

Shinkawa Market Festival |  May 3rd – 5th  |  Yamaguchi

One of the highlights of this local festival is the Fox’s wedding parade. Watch as a traditionally dressed bride and groom have their faces painted like foxes and are paraded through the town on rickshaws.

 Shinkawa Market Festival

Dates:3rd May–5th May, 2019

Heijokyo Tempyo Sai Festival |  May 3rd – 5th  |  Nara

Photo by Tenpyosai used under CC

With a history dating back 1,300 years, this festival celebrates the days when Nara was the capital of Japan. There are re-enactments of imperial guards and a noble banquet, parades and children’s workshops, it’s a great family event. Keen photographers can enter their best shots to the festival competition and there will be a market for the full three days.

 Heijokyo Tempyo Sai Festival

Dates:Early May, 2019

Kaname Inari Festival |  11th – 12th May  |  Kyoto

Held at a shrine so small it isn’t even on Google Maps, this festival is a fantastic opportunity to see the Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto (called Geisha in Tokyo). On the first evening, the Geiko and Maiko will entertain with games and drinks, while on the second day there will be a traditional ceremony.

 Kaname Inari Festival

Geisha Kyoto Festival
Dates:Mid May, 2019

Nagoya Brazil Festival |  12th – 13th May  |  Nagoya

Photo by kyu3

For a taste of something different, try the biggest Brazilian festival in Japan. As Aichi is home to the biggest Brazilian population as well as nearby Mie, it’s going to be good. There will be music, dance, performances and plenty of food and drink to enjoy!

 Nagoya Brazil Festival

Dates:Mid May, 2019

Aoi Matsuri |  May 15th  |  Kyoto

One of the three most significant festivals in Kyoto, the Aoi Matsuir features a procession from the Imperial Palace, through the streets to the Kamo Shrines. Over 500 participants dress in traditional clothing and Hollyhock leaves and make their way through the city, including an unmarried woman chosen to represent Saio. As the youngest female of the Imperial family, she was the high priestess of the Kamo shrines.

 Aoi Matsuri

Aoi Festival Kyoto
Dates:15th May, 2019

Togyo 1,000 Samurai Procession |  18th May  |  Tochigi

Cheapo may events in Japan
Togyo 1000 Samurai Procession | Photo by Alyson Hurt used under CC

For Samurai lovers, there’s only one place for you to be this month, and that’s Tochigi. With 1,200 participants all dressed in full Samurai costume, the procession takes place on the second day of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine Grand Festival. They escort mikoshi to a hall in the shrine grounds and will give you an idea of what the Shogun’s army may have looked like.

 Togyo 1,000 Samurai Procession

Cheapo may events in Japan
Dates:18th May, 2019

Kobe Festival |  19th – 20th May  |  Kobe

This bright and energetic festival takes place over two days, with separate celebrations in the 9 wards of the city on the first day. On the Sunday there is a big parade along Sannomiya road from 12 noon, with guests from Disney making a special appearance this year.

 Kobe Festival

Dates:Mid May, 2019

Sakata Festival |  May 19th – 20th  |  Yamagata

Photo by Inook2011 used under CC

Held every year since 1609, this three-day festival features some equally impressive and terrifying floats, known especially for the giant Lion’s heads. There will be 350 stalls selling festival favorites and you’ll be able to enjoy a local festival that doesn’t get as many visitors as the bigger ones in Japan.

 Sakata Festival

Dates:19th May–21st May, 2019
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Filed under: Things to Do
Tags: Cultural Events, Events, Festivals, Free Events, Matsuri, Parades, Samurai, What To Do
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