About John Asano

John Asano is a blogger, traveler and freelance writer living in Gifu, Japan. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, he has lived in Japan now for over 12 years. John loves nothing better than picking up his camera and exploring all the amazing sights and attractions that Japan has to offer. He writes about the must see sights and attractions in Japan at Japan Travel Advice, as well as about Japanese culture and modern life on his blog Japan Australia. You can read more of his work at http://japan-australia.blogspot.com/

Autumn Colors Forecast 2016 in Japan

Autumn Leaves Forecast

Autumn Colors Forecast 2016 in Japan

The viewing of autumn leaves is called koyo or momiji-gari in Japanese, and is a popular pastime in autumn. The fall season is one of the most beautiful seasons in Japan with great weather that is perfect for traveling. The autumn foliage season in Japan typically starts in mid-September in the northern mountains of Hokkaido, and slowly makes it way down south reaching Tokyo and Kyoto in mid to late November. You can even enjoy the fall foliage into December in many parts of Japan. All this means a season lasting nearly three months!

The green leaves of summer change to spectacular reds, oranges and yellows as the weather cools, and the koyo front makes it way south.

The autumn colors forecast each year varies depending on temperatures leading up to the season. This means the timing of the viewing of the autumn leaves can vary by a few days to a few weeks from year to year. The past few weeks has seen some unusually cold temperatures which has sped up the progress of the autumn colors in central Japan.

The autumn colors have reached their peak in Kamakura, which is located less than an hour south of Tokyo, and is called “The Kyoto of Eastern Japan”. They are now past their peak in many popular spots including Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Kanazawa.

The table below outlines some of the popular destinations in Japan for viewing the autumn leaves with the average estimated viewing time.

More information can be found at the official Koyo Guide in Japan.
http://kouyou.nihon-kankou.or.jp/en/

Autumn Colors Table (Updated 4 December 2016)

Autumn Colors Forecast 2016 in Japan

Gifu Park

Festivals and Events for September 2016 in Japan

Hida Takayama in Autumn

Festivals and Events for September 2016 in Japan

September in Japan is the start of autumn with the promise of cooler weather and pleasant temperatures ahead. The weather starts to cool down from mid to late September with the red, yellow and orange leaves of autumn starting in the colder regions of Japan. September is a good time to travel in Japan with clear skies and cooler mornings and evenings after the hot summer months. There are quite a few traditional cultural festivals happening around this time of the year.

Here are a few of the most popular September festivals and events in Japan.

11 May to 15 October 2016

Event: Gifu Ukai (Cormorant Fishing)
Location: Nagara River in Gifu City
Time: Starts from 7:30 pm
Price of Admission: A fee applies for the viewing boat

Cormorant Fishing or ukai in Japanese is a major summer attraction on the Nagara River in Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. Ukai is a traditional fishing method that uses trained cormorants to catch river fish. The art has been practiced along the Nagara River in Gifu for more than 1,300 years. It has a very long history in Japan and is mentioned in many ancient chronicles.

Cormorant Fishing in Gifu

9 July to 3 September 2016

Event: Gujo Bon Odori
Location: Gujo Hachiman
Time: 8 pm to 10:30 pm (11 pm on Saturdays)
Price of Admission: FREE

Gujo Bon Odori is one of Japan’s largest traditional folk dance festivals held at the picturesque riverside town of Gujo Hachiman in Gifu Prefecture. The festival is held from July 9 to September 3 as part of the Obon period in Japan, and is held to honour the spirits of ancestors. This amazing 400 year old summer tradition is held for a period of 32 nights from mid July to early September, climaxing with 4-nights of all-night dancing during Obon in the middle of August.

Official Website

11-25 September 2016

Event: Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament
Location: Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo

The Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament starts in Tokyo at the Ryogoku Kokugikan on Sunday September 11 and lasts until Sunday September 25. It is the fifth out of six tournaments held every year and lasts for 15 days. This year all eyes will be on Japanese sumo wrestlers, Takayasu and Takarafuji, who have been promoted to Sekiwake, sumo’s third highest rank. In the previous tournament in Nagoya,Takayasu captured the Technique Prize for the first time with a 11-4 record which included wins over three Ozeki. Takarafuji earned the Fighting Spirit Prize for the first time with a 10-5 record which included wins over Yokozuna Hakuho and two Ozeki.

Sumo Japan’s Traditional Sport

14-16 September 2016

Event: Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Matsuri
Location: Kamakura
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Matsuri is a traditional festival full of ancient rituals and powerful performances held at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura. The festival features mikoshi portable shrines, a tea-offering ceremony to the gods and many traditional performances ranging from ancient samurai skills to dances of love. The highlight and main attraction of the festival is yabusame, a traditional form of Japanese archery done on horseback. It is a contest combining both equestrian skills and Japanese-style archery, which was popular among the samurai warriors.

Official Website

17-18 September 2016

Event: Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri
Location: Osaka
Time: Day 1 (6:00 am to 10:00 pm) Day 2 (9:00 am to 10:00 pm)
Price of Admission: FREE

The Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri is a fun high-octane festival held in Kishiwada in the south of Osaka. The festival is the biggest and most famous danjiri matsuri in Japan, and began in 1703 when the daimyo (feudal lord) of Kishiwada Castle prayed to the Shinto gods for an abundant harvest. The festival features 35 elaborately hand-carved danjiri festival floats which are pulled through the streets of Osaka at breakneck speeds. Each float is pulled by a team of up to 1,000 people and represent a different district of the city.

Official Website

19 September 2016

Event: Keiro no Hi (Respect for the Aged Day)
National Holiday

Respect for the Aged Day or Keiro no Hi in Japanese is a National Holiday held on the third Monday of September. It is a day in Japan to respect our elders and celebrate longevity. The holiday started in 1966 and can trace its origins to 1947 when Taka-cho in Hyogo Prefecture declared September 15 “Old Folks Day”. Its popularity spread nationwide and it become a national holiday in 1966.

22 September 2016

Event: Shubun no Hi (Autumn Equinox Day)
National Holiday

Autumn Equinox Day or Shubun no Hi in Japanese is a National Holiday on September 22. Autumn Equinox Day became a national holiday on 1948. It’s a day to mark the changing of the seasons in Japan and pay our respects to our deceased ancestors. Many memorial services take place at temples around Japan. People also visit the graves of their ancestors to offer rice cakes called ohagi, clean the tombstone, and offer incense and flowers.

Festivals and Events for September 2016 in Japan

Festivals and Events for August 2016 in Japan

Tanabata Star Festival

Festivals and Events for August 2016 in Japan

August in Japan is the middle of summer and is the peak summer festival season with festivals taking place all around Japan. The weather is hot, humid and sticky, but it’s a great time to head outdoors and enjoy the fun summer festivals. Many cities and towns across Japan hold their summer fireworks festivals in August, which are a must see event. This is one of the best times of year to be in Japan and experience a Japanese festival.

Here are a few of the most popular August festivals and events in Japan.

11 May to 15 October 2016

Event: Gifu Ukai (Cormorant Fishing)
Location: Nagara River in Gifu City
Time: Starts from 7:30 pm
Price of Admission: A fee applies for the viewing boats

Cormorant Fishing or ukai in Japanese is a major summer attraction on the Nagara River in Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. Ukai is a traditional fishing method that uses trained cormorants to catch river fish. The art has been practiced along the Nagara River in Gifu for more than 1,300 years. It has a very long history in Japan and is mentioned in many ancient chronicles.

Cormorant Fishing in Gifu

1 July to 31 August 2016

Event: Mount Fuji Climbing Season

Summer is the only time you can climb Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji. The official climbing season runs from July 1 to August 31 every year. It is a great time of the year to experience Japan’s biggest UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is easily accessible from Tokyo.

Official Website

9 July to 3 September 2016

Event: Gujo Bon Odori
Location: Gujo Hachiman
Time: 8 pm to 10:30 pm (11 pm on Saturdays)
Price of Admission: FREE

Gujo Bon Odori is one of Japan’s largest traditional folk dance festivals held at the picturesque riverside town of Gujo Hachiman in Gifu Prefecture. The festival is held from July 9 to September 3 as part of the Obon period in Japan, and is held to honour the spirits of ancestors. This amazing 400 year old summer tradition is held for a period of 32 nights from mid July to early September, climaxing with 4-nights of all-night dancing during Obon in the middle of August.

Official Website

2-7 August 2016

Event: Aomori Nebuta Matsuri
Location: Aomori
Time: 7:10 pm to 9:00 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Aomori Nebuta Matsuri held in Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture which is situated at the northern tip of Honshu in the Tohoku region is one of the must see summer festivals in Japan. It is a colourful and spectacular summer festival featuring enormous illuminated lantern floats, covered with paper illustrated with famous historical or mythical Japanese characters. The floats are pulled through the city by teams of chanting dancers wearing a unique costume called haneto. The festival floats are constructed of painted washi paper over a bamboo frame and take an entire year to design and construct. Every night there is a daily parade which starts at sunset where the floats are wheeled out onto the streets of downtown Aomori. It is one of Japan’s most famous festivals and is one of the ‘Three Great Festivals of the Tohoku region of Japan’, called Tohoku Sandai Matsuri in Japanese.

Official Website

3-6 August 2016

Event: Akita Kanto Matsuri
Location: Akita
Time: 7:25 pm to 9:00 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Akita Kanto Matsuri is a spectacular summer festival held in Akita City, Akita Prefecture which is located in the Tohoku region of Japan. The Akita Kanto Matsuri is also known as the ‘pole lantern festival’ and features hundreds of giant bamboo poles each weighing 60 kg with dozens of paper lanterns attached to the end. The festival is held in hope for a good harvest as well as to keep away evil summer spirits. Participants skilfully balance the giant poles through the streets to the rhythm of taiko drums. It is also one of the ‘Three Great Festivals of the Tohoku region of Japan’, called Tohoku Sandai Matsuri in Japanese.

Official Website

6 August 2016

Event: The Nagara River National Display Fireworks Festival
Location: Gifu
Time: 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Nagara River National Display Fireworks are held on the first Saturday of August and follow on from the Chunichi Shimbun Gifu Fireworks the previous Saturday. Held along the banks of the famous Nagara River in Gifu City with Mount Kinka and Gifu Castle as a backdrop, the skies above the river are set ablaze with colour. There are many street stalls yatai selling all kinds of Japanese festival food as well as people in beautiful yukata (summer kimono).

Official Website

6-8 August 2016

Event: Sendai Tanabata Matsuri
Location: Sendai
Time: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm (August 6 and 7) and until 9:00 pm (August 8)
Price of Admission: FREE

The Sendai Tanabata Matsuri is regarded as the most famous and largest Tanabata festival in all of Japan. Held in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture which is located in the Tohoku region of Japan. The festival features colourful streamers and paper decorations such as kusudama ball of paper flowers made from Japanese washi paper. The decorations can be found in downtown Sendai and the neighbouring shopping arcades. It is also one of the ‘Three Great Festivals of the Tohoku region of Japan’, called Tohoku Sandai Matsuri in Japanese.

Official Website

11 August 2016

Event: Yama no Hi (Mountain Day)
National Holiday

Mountain Day, or Yama no Hi in Japanese is a National Holiday that is celebrated every August 11th. The holiday was created with the intention to give the hard-working Japanese a break from work while spending time in the mountains with family members and friends. Mountain Day will celebrate all things mountain-related in Japan, which is a nation whose culture is founded on nature-inspired Shintoism. To celebrate Mountain Day, Japanese people are encouraged to visit rural mountainous areas across Japan with Mount Fuji a popular destination. The inaugural National Ceremony for Mountain Day will be held in the Japan Alps at Kamikochi in Nagano.

12-15 August 2016

Event: Awa Odori Folk Dance Festival
Location: Tokushima
Time: Main Event from 6:00 pm to 10:30 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Awa Odori Folk Dance Festival is one of Japan’s largest and most famous dance festivals. It is held in the city of Tokushima in Tokushima Prefecture on the southern island of Shikoku. Men, women and children in yukata (summer kimono) and straw hats take to the streets to dance to the sounds of shamisen, taiko drums and flutes. The traditional bon folk dance which is called ‘Awa Odori’ is done to honour one’s ancestors in Japan during the Obon period of mid-August. The festival is one of the biggest and most entertaining festivals in Japan.

Official Website

16 August 2016

Event: Daimonji Gozan Okuribi
Location: Kyoto
Time: The bonfires start from 8:00 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Daimonji Gozan Okuribi or Daimonji Yaki is a must see summer festival in Kyoto during the Obon period in Japan. Huge bonfires in the shape of Chinese characters and other symbols are set alight on top of five mountains during Obon (festival of the dead) to bid farewell to the souls of our ancestors. The largest fire is always burned on Mount Daimonji, just above Ginkakuji Temple. It is one of Japan’s most impressive spectacles and a highlight of summer in Kyoto.

Festivals and Events for August 2016 in Japan

Ninja WiFi Rental Service in Japan

Festivals and Events for July 2016 in Japan

Tanabata Star Festival

Festivals and Events for July 2016 in Japan

July in Japan is the start of the summer festival season and is one of the best times to experience one of Japan’s many traditional festivals. There are quite a few traditional cultural festivals and events happening around this time of the year as well as spectacular summer fireworks festivals. July is one of the best times of the year to experience all that Japanese culture has to offer.

Here are a few of the most popular July festivals and events in Japan.

11 May to 15 October 2016

Event: Gifu Ukai (Cormorant Fishing)
Location: Nagara River in Gifu City
Time: Starts from 7:30 pm
Price of Admission: A fee applies for the viewing boats

Cormorant Fishing or ukai in Japanese is a major summer attraction on the Nagara River in Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. Ukai is a traditional fishing method that uses trained cormorants to catch river fish. The art has been practiced along the Nagara River in Gifu for more than 1,300 years. It has a very long history in Japan and is mentioned in many ancient chronicles.

Cormorant Fishing in Gifu

1 July to 31 August 2016

Event: Mount Fuji Climbing Season

Summer is the only time you can climb Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji. The official climbing season runs from July 1 to August 31 every year. It is a great time of the year to experience Japan’s biggest UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is easily accessible from Tokyo.

Official Website

1-15 July 2016

Event: Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival
Location: Fukuoka
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival is an exciting and high energy summer festival held in Hakata, Fukuoka. The festival is held from July 1 to 15 with the climax at Kushida Jinja Shrine on July 15. The festival is believed to have originated in the 13th Century and is now over 750 years old and attracts up to a million spectators every year. The festival features two kinds of festival floats, one called Kazariyama, which are colourful floats used for display purposes only, and Kakiyama, which are pulled through the streets of Hakata and feature in the climax of the festival.

Official Website

1-31 July 2016

Event: Gion Matsuri
Location: Kyoto
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The Gion Matsuri in Kyoto is a month-long festival that is one of the most famous in Japan. The whole month of July is filled with fun festival activities and events ranging from processions and traditional performances to ancient ceremonies. The festival is held from July 1 to 31 with the main day of the festival being July 17 with a parade of over 30 floats through the streets of Kyoto. The festival floats are truly impressive at up to 25 meters tall and weighing up to 12 tonnes.

Official Website

7 July 2016

Event: Tanabata Star Festival
Location: All Over Japan

Tanabata also known as the “Star Festival” takes place every year on the 7th day of the 7th month. The Japanese festival has its origins in ancient Chinese legend, and celebrates the meeting of two stars identified with the lovers Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair), tragically separated by the Milky Way. The lovers are only allowed to meet one night of the year, which is Tanabata. It’s considered to be one of the most romantic nights of the year in Japan, and is a great time to be outdoors enjoying all that a Japanese summer festival has to offer.

The date of Tanabata varies depending on the region of Japan and is usually held at either July 7th or August 7th. The celebration is held at night and colourful Tanabata Festivals are held across Japan.

Read more about Tababata the Star Festival of Japan

9 July to 3 September 2016

Event: Gujo Bon Odori
Location: Gujo Hachiman
Time: 8 pm to 10:30 pm (11 pm on Saturdays)
Price of Admission: FREE

Gujo Bon Odori is one of Japan’s largest and most famous traditional folk dance festivals. Held every summer in the picturesque riverside town of Gujo Hachiman in Gifu Prefecture, the dance is one of the three most famous Bon dances in Japan, and easily its most accessible. This year the festival will be held from July 9 to September 3 as part of the Obon period in Japan. The highlight of the festival is the all-night dancing, or tetsuya odori, which takes place from dusk until dawn during the Obon season (a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors) in mid-August. The all-night dancing runs from August 13 to 16 each year.

Official Website

10-24 July 2016

Event: July Summer Grand Sumo Tournament
Location: Nagoya Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium

The July Summer Grand Sumo Tournament starts in Nagoya at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium on Sunday July 10. Japanese Ozeki, Kisenosato will take center stage as he launches his latest bid for an elusive first championship, and with it, promotion to sumo’s highest rank of Yokozuna (Grand Champion).

Sumo Japan’s Traditional Sport

14 July 2016

Event: Nachi no Hi Fire Festival
Location: Wakayama
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The Nachi no Hi Fire Festival is held at the famous Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine in the World Heritage Kumano Mountains of Wakayama Prefecture. It is one of the three largest fire festivals in all of Japan. Portable shrines (mikoshi) designed in the image of the sacred Great Waterfall of Nachi are brought down from the mountain, and are met by groups bearing 50-kg flaming pine torches. It is one of the most spectacular festivals you will experience in Japan.

Official Website

18 July 2016

Event: Umi no Hi (Marine Day)
National Holiday

Umi no Hi or Marine Day is a Japanese National Holiday held on the third Monday of July. This year the holiday will be on July 18th. Umi no Hi was established to appreciate and celebrate the ocean and to consider the importance of the ocean to Japan as an island nation. Many people take advantage of this holiday and the beautiful summer weather to visit the beach.

22-24 July 2016

Event: Fuji Rock Festival
Location: Niigata

The Fuji Rock Festival is an annual summer rock festival held in the beautiful mountains of Niigata in central Japan. It attracts top international artists as well as Japan’s finest musicians for three days of music, fun and camping. This year’s lineup includes Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, Sigur Ros, Stereophonics, Travis, and Jake Bugg.

Official Website

24-25 July 2016

Event: Tenjin Matsuri
Location: Osaka
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The Tenjin Matsuri is held at Tenmangu Shrine in Osaka and is regarded as one of Japan’s three biggest festivals. The main celebrations are held on the second day with a procession through the streets of Osaka of portable shrines (mikoshi) with people dressed in traditional costumes. At night, there is a river procession with a huge fireworks display. The festival first started in the 10th century and is a one of the must see festivals in Japan.

Official Website

30 July 2016

Event: Sumidagawa Fireworks
Location: Tokyo
Time: 7:05 pm to 8:30 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Sumidagawa Fireworks is an annual fireworks festival held over the Sumida River in the historic Asakusa district of Tokyo. The festival is the world’s oldest firework show, tracing its origin back to the Edo Period in 1732. It is a taikai (competition) between rival pyrotechnic groups who try to out-do each other leading to a spectacular showcase of Japanese fireworks.

Official Website

30 July 2016

Event: Chunichi Shinbun Gifu Fireworks
Location: Gifu
Time: 7:15 pm to 8:45 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Chunichi Shinbun Gifu Fireworks is one of the largest and most spectacular fireworks displays in all of Japan. Held along the banks of the famous Nagara River in Gifu City with Mount Kinka and Gifu Castle as a backdrop, the skies above the river are set ablaze with colour.

Official Website

Festivals and Events for July 2016 in Japan

NINJA WiFi Japan

Ninja WiFi

There is no need to look for a guide-book or to hunt for a free WiFi spot with NINJA WiFi. You can simply enjoy the internet with your own smart phone in Japan.

What is NINJA WiFi

NINJA WiFi is a rental mobile WiFi router that enables you to use the internet on your smart phone or table by connecting to the local mobile phone network. NINJA WiFi is easy to use and can be used anywhere in Japan. In addition, smartphones and PCs can be used simultaneously by friends of family members with only one mobile WiFi router.

You can pick up the router at the airport when you arrive in Japan and simply return it at the airport when you leave.

How to Use NINJA WiFi in Three Easy Steps

Step 1 Register by completing the application form prior to your desired pickup date. Payment is accepted by credit card.
Step 2 Choose between pickup at the airport, pickup counter or delivery.
Step 3 You can choose between return at the airport, or by return delivery.

Benefits of NINJA WiFi

Benefits of Ninja WiFi

For more details about NINJA WiFI, please visit the NINJA WiFi Website

Ninja WiFi Rental Service in Japan

Festivals and Events for June 2016 in Japan

Heian Jingu Shrine Main Gate - Otenmon

Festivals and Events for June 2016 in Japan

June in Japan is the start of summer with warmer weather and the beautiful colours of the hydrangea flowers (ajisai), the symbol of the rainy season in Japan. June is a low season for travel in Japan which means lower prices and reduced crowds. There are quite a few traditional cultural festivals and events happening around this time of the year.

Here are a few of the most popular June festivals and events in Japan.

11 May to 15 October 2016

Event: Gifu Ukai (Cormorant Fishing)
Location: Nagara River in Gifu City
Time: Starts from around 7:30 pm
Price of Admission: A fee applies for the viewing boats

Cormorant Fishing or ukai in Japanese is a major summer attraction on the Nagara River in Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. Ukai is a traditional fishing method that uses trained cormorants to catch river fish. The art has been practiced along the Nagara River in Gifu for more than 1,300 years. It has a very long history in Japan and is mentioned in many ancient chronicles.

Cormorant Fishing in Gifu

1-2 June 2016

Event: Takigi O-Noh
Location: Kyoto
Time: Held in the evening from 5:30 pm until around 8:45 pm
Price of Admission: 4,000 yen at the gate or 3,000 yen advanced purchase

Taking place at the famous Heian Jingu Shrine in Kyoto, this annual open-air torchlight event features traditional Noh performances, which are an ancient form of musical theater in Japan. The beautiful performances are held in the evening on a special stage at Heian Jingu Shrine, which is illuminated with blazing torches creating a magical atmosphere. The Noh actors are dressed in beautiful costumes wearing lacquer-coated wooden masks.

Official Website

5 June 2016

Event: Atsuta Matsuri
Location: Nagoya
Time: Festival starts from around 10 am with the Kento Makiwara 6 pm to 9 pm and Fireworks 7:50 pm to 9 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

This festival held at the famous Atsuta Jinju Shrine is one of the major festivals of Nagoya. It features various performances such as kyudo (Japanese style archery), Atsuta Kagura (Shinto dance with music), taiko (Japanese drumming), kendo, sumo and various forms of martial arts. The highlight of the festival is the five Kento Makiwara, which are huge floats decorated by 365 lanterns, and the fireworks display at Jingu Koen Park.

Official Website

7-17 June 2016

Event: Sanno Matsuri
Location: Tokyo
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The Sanno Matsuri is one of the three most famous festivals of Tokyo. It takes place in mid-June in even-numbered years. The main attraction of the festival is the parade which winds through central Tokyo. It starts and ends at Hie Shrine, which hosts the festival as well as being home to the guardian deity of Tokyo.

Official Website

14 June 2016

Event: Otaue Rice Planting Festival
Location: Osaka
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The Otaue Rice Planting Festival in Osaka is one of the most famous festivals in the Kansai region of Japan. It is held at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Osaka and is an ancient Shinto festival to pray for a rich rice harvest. The main attraction of the rituals is the spectacular dance and folk song performances, as well as a procession of samurai warriors dressed in full armor. The dancing is believed to enhance the vitality of the rice grains leading to a successful harvest.

Official Website

16 June – 8 July 2016

Event: Itadori Ajisai Matsuri
Location: Gifu
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

Held at the picturesque Itadori Village in Seki City, Gifu Prefecture. The ajisai or hydrangea are a symbol of June and the rainy season in Japan. The Ajisai Matsuri starts at the Ajisai Mura (village) with the whole area filled with around 10,000 beautiful hydrangea flowers. Lining the Itadori River is the “Hydrangea Road”, which is a 24 kilometer-long stretch of road containing around 7,000 hydrangea of various colours.

Itadori Ajisai Matsuri

22-24 June 2016

Event: Himeji Yukata Festival
Location: Himeji
Time: Held from 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Himeji Yukata Festival is one of the biggest festivals in Western Japan. The festival features three days of colourful yukata as well as around 800 open air night stalls that line the street in the city center. Highlights of the festival include a yukata parade, a yukata fashion show and various dance and music performances.

Official Website

Festivals and Events for June 2016 in Japan

Ise-Shima G7 Summit Japan 2016

Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture

Ise-Shima G7 Summit Japan 2016

Ise-Shima located on the eastern tip of the Kii Peninsula in Mie Prefecture in the Kansai Region of Central Japan is a place rich in nature, history and culture. The region is set in a magnificent natural environment, blessed with beautiful mountains and stunning coastlines. One of the great aspects of Ise-Shima is that it manages to find the perfect balance of both historic and traditional sites as well as modern attractions.

On May 26th and 27th, Ise-Shima will host world leaders at the G7 Summit in Japan. The 42nd G7 Summit will see leaders from the U.S.A., the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Canada as well as the presidents of the European Council and European Commission. The leaders will gather on the beautiful island of Kashikojima in Ago Bay to discuss world economics, the environment, global security and many other important world issues.

The area was chosen by Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe for its Japanese landscape which is full of scenic nature as well as its rich traditional culture and history. It is his desire for the world leaders to be able to experience Japanese culture and rich traditions first hand.

The most famous sight in Ise-Shima has to be Ise Grand Shrine, which is Japan’s most sacred Shinto Shrine. The shrine consists of two main shrines, Geku and Naiku, as well as over 100 small shrines spread across Ise City. Ise Grand Shrine dates from the 3rd Century and is considered to be the spiritual home of the Japanese and its national religion Shinto. It is also believed to be the home of the “sacred mirror”, one of the three sacred treasures of Japan.

Ise-Shima also boasts the famous Meoto Iwa, known as the Wedded Rocks, Mikimoto Pearl Island, where the first cultivated pearl was created in 1893, and Ise-Shima National Park, one of Japan’s oldest national parks.

Ise-Shima, the heart and soul of Japan offers historical sites, beautiful natural landscapes and amazing food to satisfy any keen traveler to Japan. For more information on the region visit the Ise-Shima Official Website.

Meoto Iwa in Futami

Festivals and Events for May 2016 in Japan

Kodomo no Hi

Festivals and Events for May 2016 in Japan

May in Japan sees spring in full swing with warm weather and blue skies. It is the last month of beautiful spring weather before the start of early summer and the arrival of the rainy season. Early May is also the Golden Week period which is a collection of four national holidays in the space of seven days. There are quite a few traditional cultural festivals happening around this time of the year.

Here are a few of the most popular May festivals and events in Japan.

3 May 2016

Event: Kenpou Kinenbi (Constitution Memorial Day)
National Holiday

Constitution Memorial Day or Kenpou Kinenbi in Japanese is an annual Japanese National Holiday held on May 3. It is the second national holiday of “Golden Week”, a collection of four national holidays in the space of seven days. The purpose of the holiday is to commemorate the new Japanese constitution, which was put into effect on May 3, 1947.

Golden Week in Japan 2016

3-5 May 2016

Event: Hamamatsu Festival
Location: Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The Hamamatsu Festival also called the Hamamatsu Kite Festival is held from May 3 to May 5 every year in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. The festival originated about 430 years ago, when the lord of Hamamatsu Castle celebrated the birth of his first son by flying kites. Today, the festival sees tako gassen or kite fights with local teams flying huge decorated kites, and traditional events including a parade with luxuriously decorated palace-like floats.

Official Website

4 May 2016

Event: Midori no Hi (Greenery Day)
National Holiday

Greenery Day or Midori no Hi in Japanese is an annual Japanese National Holiday held on May 4. It is the third national holiday of “Golden Week”, a collection of four national holidays in the space of seven days.The purpose of Midori no Hi is to show appreciation for the environment and nature. It is the perfect time to head outdoors and enjoy the beautiful spring weather and fresh green leaves of the season.

Golden Week in Japan 2016

5 May 2016

Event: Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day)
National Holiday

Children’s Day or Kodomo no Hi in Japanese is an annual Japanese National Holiday held on May 5. It is the fourth national holiday of “Golden Week”, a collection of four national holidays in the space of seven days. Children’s Day is a holiday for children in general, but is primarily for boys. It is tradition on the day to celebrate boys, and is a festival to pray for their healthy growth. It is Japanese tradition for families with boys to raise carp streamers called koinobori outside their houses on flag poles around this holiday.

Golden Week in Japan 2016

8-22 May 2016

Event: Sumo Natsu Basho (Summer Tournament)
Location: Tokyo Kokugikan

The summer sumo tournament known as the natsu basho starts in Tokyo at the Kokugikan on Sunday, May 8. Yokozuna Hakuho who won the March Spring Tournament (haru basho) with a 14-1 record will be gunning for his 37th Championship. Interest in this tournament will be upon Japanese sumo wrestlers Kotoyuki and Ikioi, who will be making their Sekiwake debuts.

Sumo Japan’s Traditional Sport

11 May to 15 October 2016

Event: Gifu Ukai (Cormorant Fishing)
Location: Nagara River in Gifu City
Time: Starts from 7:30 pm
Price of Admission: A fee applies for the viewing boats

Cormorant Fishing or ukai in Japanese is a major summer attraction on the Nagara River in Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. Ukai is a traditional fishing method that uses trained cormorants to catch river fish. The art has been practiced along the Nagara River in Gifu for more than 1,300 years. It has a very long history in Japan and is mentioned in many ancient chronicles.

Cormorant Fishing in Gifu

13-15 May 2016

Event: Sanja Matsuri
Location: Asakusa, Tokyo
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The Sanja Matsuri is one of the three great Shinto festivals of Tokyo. The name Sanja Matsuri literally means “Three Shrine Festival” and the festival revolves around three portable shrines (mikoshi) which are paraded through the streets of Asakusa. The festival is held in honor of the three local fisherman who established and founded the famous Sensoji Temple in Tokyo.

Official Website

15 May 2016

Event: Aoi Matsuri
Location: Kyoto
Time: Procession leaves Kyoto Imperial Palace at 10:30 am
Price of Admission: FREE

The Aoi Matsuri in Kyoto is a festival full of elegance and tradition that dates from the 6th century, making it one of the world’s oldest festivals. It is regarded as one of Kyoto’s three most famous festivals along with the Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri. The Aoi Matsuri features over 500 people in magnificent aristocratic costumes and traditional make-up from the Heian Period. The participants parade through the main streets of Kyoto in a spectacular display highlighting the beauty and elegance of this ancient city. It is a festival of the two kamo shrines in the north of Kyoto, Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine.

Official Website

Festivals and Events for May 2016 in Japan

Festivals and Events for April 2016 in Japan

Dosan Festival Gifu City

Festivals and Events for April 2016 in Japan

April in Japan sees spring in full swing with cherry blossoms at their peak in early April through-out central Japan. Early April is usually the best time to see the cherry blossoms in both Tokyo and Kyoto. Japan is truly beautiful at this time of the year with warm weather and blue skies. It is generally a good time to travel in Japan with quite a few traditional cultural festivals and events happening around the country at this time of the year.

Here are a few of the most popular April festivals and events in Japan.

2-3 April 2016

Event: Dosan Festival
Location: Gifu City
Time: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (Times vary according to the event)
Price of Admission: FREE

The Dosan Festival is one of the biggest festivals in Gifu City and celebrates the memory and achievements of Saito Dosan. He was a samurai warlord during the Sengoku (Warring States) period of Japanese history and his actions lead to the establishment of Gifu City. The festival is held on the first Saturday and Sunday of April. It starts with a memorial service for Saito Dosan at Jozai Temple (Dosan’s family temple) and is followed by many events such as spectacular festival floats, mikoshi portable shrines, parades and a even a flea market.

Official Website

2-3 April 2016

Event: Inuyama Festival
Location: Inuyama City
Time: 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm for the nigh time floats (Times vary according to the event)
Price of Admission: FREE

The Inuyama Festival is held on the first Saturday and Sunday of April in Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture. It is the annual festival of the Haritsuna Shrine and first started around 1635. The festival features beautiful festival floats which are 25 feet in height and designated as a tangible folk culture properties of Aichi. The 13 three-layered floats are pulled through the streets of the town to the sound of Japanese flutes and drums. The floats are topped with karakuri dolls (mechanical puppets) which perform music and dance. At night, the festival floats are lit by 365 Japanese lanterns which makes for a gorgeous picture with the beautiful cherry blossoms in the background.

Official Website

9 April 2016

Event: Tejikara Fire Festival
Location: Gifu
Time: 6:30 pm to 9:10 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Tejikara Fire Festival is one of the most spectacular festivals in Japan with a history of over 300 years. The festival is held at Tejikarao Shrine in Gifu City and features portable shrines (mikoshi) that are carried under a curtain of fire and fireworks. Other highlights include the gohei andon (Standing Lanterns) that are hung 20 meters above the ground on bamboo poles and tedutsu hanabi (Hand-held Fireworks).

Official Website

10-17 April 2016

Event: Kamakura Festival
Location: Kamakura
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The Kamakura Festival is a week-long festival held at the historic Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura. The festival features a variety of parades and performances, portable shrines (mikoshi) and musical bands. The highlight is yabusame held on Sunday, April 17. It features the revival of the ancient samurai art of shooting arrows from horseback at a target.

Official Website

13 and 17 April 2016

Event: Yayoi Festival
Location: Nikko
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The Yayoi Festival signals the start of spring in Nikko, famous for its World Heritage temples and shrines. The main attraction takes place on April 17 and features a parade of festival floats decorated with spring flowers. The spectacular festival floats are pulled through the town to celebrate the coming of spring. The festival dates back to the 8th Century and follows ancient customs and traditions.

Official Website

14–15 April 2016

Event: Takayama Spring Festival
Location: Hida Takayama
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The Takayama Spring Festival is one of the Three Most Beautiful Festivals of Japan and dates back to the 17th Century. The Spring Festival also called the “Sanno Matsuri” centers on Hie Shrine and is to pray for a good harvest. The highlight of the festival is the spectacular elaborately decorated festival floats that pass through the beautiful city of Takayama.

Official Website

19-20 April 2016

Event: Hida Furukawa Festival
Location: Hida Furukawa
Time: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (Times vary according to the event)
Price of Admission: FREE

The Hida Furukawa Spring Festival is held annually on April 19th and 20th just after the famous Hida Takayama Spring Festival. The festival has a history of over 400 years, and features beautifully decorated festival floats, mikoshi portable shrines and spectacular okoshi taiko drum performances by half-clad men. The festival is considered one of Japan’s “Three Great Naked Festivals”.

Official Website

29 April 2016

Event: Showa Day
National Holiday

Showa Day or “Showa no Hi” in Japanese is an annual Japanese National Holiday held on April 29. It honors the birthday of the former Showa Emperor, who reigned from 1926 to 1989. The purpose of the holiday is to encourage the Japanese people to reflect on this turbulent period of Japanese history. It is the first holiday of the “Golden Week” period in Japan.

Festivals and Events for April 2016 in Japan

Festivals and Events for March 2016 in Japan

Plum Blossoms Bairin Park

Festivals and Events for March 2016 in Japan

March in Japan is the start of spring and the promise of warmer days ahead. The weather starts to warm up and you can experience both the plum blossoms in early March, as well as the cherry blossoms towards the end of March in Central Japan. Check out our cherry blossom forecast for the latest news and updates on the opening and peak of the cherry blossoms in Japan. March is a good time to travel in Japan with mild weather and longer days. There are quite a few traditional cultural festivals and events happening around this time of the year.

Here are a few of the most popular March festivals and events in Japan.

1-14 March 2016

Event: Omizutori
Location: Nara
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

Omizutori or “The sacred water-drawing festival” is a Japanese Buddhist festival that is held at the Nigatsu-do of Todaiji Temple in Nara. The festival is the final rite of the two-week long Shuni-e ceremony to cleanse the people of their sins as well as to usher in the spring. The main night of the festival is held on March 12, where the priests parade huge flaming torches that rain down embers to purify the spectators. The festival has been held for over 1250 years, making it one of the oldest Buddhist events in Japan.

3 March 2016

Event: Hina Matsuri (Girl’s Festival)
Location: All over Japan

Hina Matsuri also known as the “Doll’s Festival” or “Girl’s Festival” is a special day held on March 3. Families with girls display a set of ornamental dolls called Hina Ningyo that represent the Emperor, Empress, attendants and musicians in traditional dress of the Heian Period court. The dolls are displayed in hope of bringing the girls a successful and happy life.

Read more about Hina Matsuri

Hina Matsuri

13-27 March 2016

Event: Osaka Spring Sumo Tournament
Location: Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium

The Osaka Sumo Tournament also known as the Spring Basho is always one of the most popular tournaments of the sumo calendar. This year the competition runs from March 13 to 27. The attention this year will be on Japanese Ozeki, Kotoshogiku, who won the first tournament of the year in Tokyo and with another strong performance here will push for the ultimate rank of Yokozuna (Grand Champion).

Read more about this ancient Japanese sport on Japan Australia

14 March 2016

Event: White Day
Location: All over Japan

White Day is held exactly one month after Valentine’s Day. It is a special day in Japan for the boys to return the favour of gifts received from girls on Valentine’s Day. It is called White Day as white is the colour of sugar, the main ingredient in candy which is traditionally given as a gift on White Day.

Read more about White Day

12–21 March 2016

Event: Hanatoro
Location: Kyoto
Time: Illumination Hours 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

Hanatoro which means “Flower and Light Road” in Japanese is an illumination event that takes place in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto in March. The streets are illuminated by thousands of lanterns. Many temples and shrines in the area are also illuminated and are opened extended hours during this time. This includes the famous Kiyomizu-dera.

Official Website

20 March 2016

Event: Spring Equinox Day
National Holiday

Spring Equinox Day called Shunbun no Hi in Japanese is a national holiday in Japan. It first became a national holiday in 1948, and marks a day when night and day are equal in length. It is a day in Japan to enjoy nature and the warmer weather that comes with spring and the cherry blossoms.

Cherry Blossom Forecast for 2016 in Japan

Festivals and Events for March 2016 in Japan