Festivals and Events for August 2017 in Japan

Tanabata Star Festival

Festivals and Events for August 2017 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 all the fun that summer festivals have to offer. Many cities and towns across Japan hold their summer fireworks festivals in August. 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 2017

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 2017

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

8 July to 2 September 2017

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 8 to September 2 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

2-7 August 2017

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 2017

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 skillfully 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

5 August 2017

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 2017

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 2017

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 2017

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 2017

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 2017 in Japan

Festivals and Events for July 2017 in Japan

Tanabata Star Festival

Festivals and Events for July 2017 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 truly 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 2017

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 2017

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 2017

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 2017

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 2017

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

8 July to 2 September 2017

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 8 to September 2 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

9-23 July 2017

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 9. Filipino-Japanese Ozeki, Takayasu will take center stage after being promoted to sumo’s second highest rank after last month’s tournament in Tokyo. The 27 year-old finished the tournament with a 11-4 record, giving him 34 wins in the last 3 tournaments, exceeding the number considered necessary for ozeki promotion.

Sumo Japan’s Traditional Sport

14 July 2017

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

17 July 2017

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 17th. 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.

24-25 July 2017

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

28-30 July 2017

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 Gorillaz, Bjork, JET, Queens of the Stone Age, and Aphex Twin.

Official Website

29 July 2017

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

29 July 2017

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 2017 in Japan


Festivals and Events for June 2017 in Japan

Itadori Hydrangea Festival in Seki, Gifu Prefecture

Festivals and Events for June 2017 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, so it is a great time to be in Japan.

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

11 May to 15 October 2017

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 2017

Event: Takigi 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 2017

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

14 June 2017

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 2017

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 2017

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 2017 in Japan

Festivals and Events for May 2017 in Japan

Koinobori for Children's Day in Japan

WikiMedia Commons

Festivals and Events for May 2017 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 (April 29 – May 7), which is a collection of four national holidays in the space of seven 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 May festivals and events in Japan.

3 May 2017

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 2017

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 2017

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 2017

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-shaped streamers called koinobori outside their houses on flag poles around this holiday.

Golden Week in Japan 2016

11-17 May 2017

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

The Kanda Matsuri is one of the most famous festivals in Tokyo and one of the three largest festivals in Japan. The main attraction is a parade of over 300 people and 100 portable shrines through the streets of central Tokyo. The festival started in the early 17th century as a celebration of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s decisive victory at the greatest samurai battle in history at Sekigahara.

Official Website

11 May to 15 October 2017

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

14-28 May 2017

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 14. Japanese Yokozuna, Kisenosato who won the March Spring Tournament (haru basho) in a playoff with a 13-2 record will be gunning for his 3rd straight championship. Interest in this tournament will once again be upon Japanese sumo wrestler Takayasu, who will be looking to get around 11 wins to be promoted to the 2nd highest rank of Ozeki. .

Sumo Japan’s Traditional Sport

15 May 2017

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

19-21 May 2017

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

Festivals and Events for May 2017 in Japan

Festivals and Events for April 2017 in Japan

Dosan Festival Gifu City

Festivals and Events for April 2017 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.

1-2 April 2017

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 even a flea market.

Official Website

1-2 April 2017

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

8 April 2017

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

9-16 April 2017

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 16. It features the revival of the ancient samurai art of shooting arrows from horseback at a target.

Official Website

14–15 April 2017

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 historic streets of the old town of Takayama.

Official Website

16-17 April 2017

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

19-20 April 2017

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 2017

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 2017 in Japan

Japan Cherry Blossom Forecast 2017

Cherry Blossoms at Gifu Park in Gifu City

Japan Cherry Blossom Forecast for 2017

This year’s cherry blossom forecast is expected to open close to their average schedule in 2017. The cherry blossoms are predicted to start opening in late March and reach their peak in early April in Central Japan.The cherry blossom season has ended in many of Japan’s major cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. The season has currently moved to the northern Tohoku Region and southern Hokkaido. The cherry blossoms are now at their peak in Hirosaki, Kakunodate and Hakodate. They are expected to reach their peak in Sapporo from May 2 to 9 during the Golden Week period in Japan.

The Cherry Blossom season typically starts in January in Okinawa and sweeps up the mainland to Hokkaido in May.

The best time for viewing the cherry blossoms varies between a few days to a week from the first bloom, so don’t leave it too late to see the beautiful blossoms.

We have created a table below for the major places in Japan with the estimate start date and peak bloom of the cherry blossoms. This is only a predication and is based on long term forecasts for February and March. Please refer back to this page for regular updates and reports.

Information from the Japan Weather Association

Cherry Blossom Forecast Chart for 2017 in Japan

Updated 30th April 2017 Cherry Blossom Forecast Chart for 2017 in Japan

Festivals and Events for March 2017 in Japan

Plum Blossoms Bairin Park

Festivals and Events for March 2017 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 2017

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 2017

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

Hina Matsuri also known as the “Doll Festival” or “Girl’s Day” 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

3–12 March 2017

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

Hanatoro which means “path of lights and flowers” in Japanese is an illumination event that takes place in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto in March. The historic streets are illuminated by thousands of lanterns. Many temples and shrines in the area are also illuminated and have extended opening hours, including the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

Official Website

12-26 March 2017

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 12 to 26. The tournament will feature four Yokuzuna (grand champions) vying for the title, the first time this has happened in 17 years. All attention this year will be on Japanese Yokuzuna, Kisenosato, who won the first tournament of the year in Tokyo and is making his debut at sumo highest rank.

Read more about this ancient Japanese sport on Japan Australia

14 March 2017

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

20 March 2017

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 2017 in Japan

Festivals and Events for March 2017 in Japan

Festivals and Events for February 2017 in Japan

Festivals and Events for February 2016 in Japan
Image source

Festivals and Events for February 2017 in Japan

February in Japan is the end of winter and typically one of the coldest months. It is a good time to go skiing or snowboarding, or just relax in a hot onsen. The plum blossoms start to bloom in February and are a wonderful prelude to the cherry blossoms of spring. There are quite a few traditional cultural festivals and events happening around this time of the year in Japan.

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

3 February 2017

Event: Setsubun
Location: All over Japan

Setsubun is a festival held on February 3 or 4 to celebrate the end of winter and the start of spring. It is also celebrated in ways to drive away evil spirits and bad luck and bring in good luck. It is custom on Setsubun for people of all ages to throw beans and shout ‘oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi’, which means ‘out with the demons, in with good luck’. Events are held at shrines throughout Japan and feature local personalities and celebrities throwing beans and prizes to the crowd. It is a great opportunity to visit a local shrine and join in on the festivities and events and experience Japanese culture first hand.

Read more about Setsubun

3-12 February 2017

Event: Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
Location: Otaru City, Hokkaido Prefecture
Time: The sites are lit daily from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Otaru Snow Light Path Festival is a spectacular winter festival that is held for 10 days to coincide with the famous Sapporo Snow Festival. Held in the romantic port town of Otaru near Sapporo, the festival has two main areas; the Otaru Canal Site and the Temiya Railway Line Site. The picturesque Otaru Canal with its nostalgic old stone and brick warehouses and Victorian-style gas lamps is the main attraction of the festival. The area is illuminated by soft flickering candle lit lanterns and small snow statues, creating an amazing winter atmosphere.

Official Website

5 & 6 February 2017

Event: Shirakawa-go Winter Illumination
Location: Shirakawa-go Village, Gifu Prefecture
Time: 17:30 – 19:30
Price of Admission: FREE

Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its gassho zukuri farmhouses. This place has been famous for years due to its steeply slanting thatched roof farmhouses, which look just like two hands joined together in prayer. The beauty of the village is raised to an even higher level when the houses are lit up in the snow during winter. Spotlights illuminate the snow-covered thatched roofs and surrounding grounds, which makes the village look like a magical winter wonderland straight out of a fairy tale.

Official Website

6-12 February 2017

Event: Sapporo Snow Festival
Location: Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture
Time: The ice sculptures are lit daily until 10:00 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Sapporo Snow Festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido, is an annual snow festival which draws over 2 millions visitors every year. It is one of the largest winter events in Japan, and is also known as the “Sapporo Yuki Matsuri”. The festival is held each year in early February with dozens of large and elaborate ice and snow sculptures, as well as fun activities at its three venues. The event will be held from February 6-12 in 2017 with the amazing ice sculptures lit with an array of spotlights at night creating a winter wonderland.

Official Website

11 February 2017

Event: National Foundation Day (Kenkoku Kinen no Hi)
National Holiday

National Foundation Day or Kenkoku Kinen no Hi in Japanese, is a National Holiday celebrated annually on February 11. It celebrates the foundation of Japan and the accession of its first Emperor Jimmu. Customs on this day include raising the Japanese flag and reflecting on the meaning of Japanese citizenship.

14 February 2017

Event: Valentine’s Day
Location: All over Japan

Valentine’s Day in Japan is very different from anywhere else in the world. The date is the same, February 14th, but in Japan it is all about the chocolates. The tradition in Japan is for the girls to give chocolates to the boys. This tradition is said to have started back in the late 1950s, by a company called Mary Chocolate. They started an advertising campaign along the lines that Valentine’s Day is the only day of the year a woman can profess her love through presenting chocolate. The favour is returned to the girls on a special day called White Day, which is celebrated a month later on March 14th.

Read more about Valentines’s Day in Japan

15-16 February 2017

Event: Yokote Kamakura Festival
Location: Yokote City, Akita Prefecture
Time: The ice sculptures are lit daily until 10:00 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The annual Yokote Kamakura Festival held in Yokote City in southeastern Akita has a history of over 400 years, and features spectacular igloo-like snow houses called kamakura in Japanese. The snow houses are built at various locations throughout the city, illuminating the streets and surrounding areas in spectacular fashion. The festival also features hundreds of mini kamakura illuminated by candles along the Yokote River creating a beautiful sea of lights.

Official Website

18 February 2017

Event: Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri
Location: Saidai-ji Temple, Okayama Prefecture
Time: Times vary according to the event (Main Event from 22:00)
Price of Admission: FREE

The most famous Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Festival) in Japan is the Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri in Okayama. Every year thousands of men participate in the festival in hope of gaining good luck and being blessed with a year of happiness. The participants compete to get hold of two wooden sticks in which a deity is said to reside. The origins of the festival date back over 500 years and it is truly a unique cultural event.

Official Website

Festivals and Events for February 2017 in Japan

Japan Rail Pass Guide

Japan Rail Pass Guide

The Japan Rail Pass, also known as a JR Pass is a cost effective rail pass that is available to overseas visitors to Japan. The pass entitles the holder to unlimited travel on the extensive JR rail network for one, two or three weeks, which includes the famous shinkansen (bullet trains) and selected JR buses and ferries.

Purchasing a Japan Rail Pass is well worth it and will save you money if you plan on making multiple trips within Japan. It offers the most affordable way to travel around, especially if you plan on seeing the must see destinations in Japan, such as the ‘Golden Route’ of TokyoKyotoNaraOsakaHiroshimaTokyo.

Types of Japan Rail Passes

The pass comes in two different types, one for each class of service, Standard, also known as economy and Green Car, also known as executive-class or first-class. The Green Car offers more spacious seats, more foot space and enhanced service than economy.

How the Japan Rail Pass Works

The Japan Rail Pass is only available to short term foreign tourists to Japan, and must be purchased outside of Japan. It is only available to people who enter Japan under the visa status of ‘temporary visitor’. To order the pass, you must first purchase an ‘exchange order’ via the internet, which can be validated once you are in the country. You receive a voucher that is exchanged to the actual pass once you are inside Japan and within three months of purchase.

The pass is time limited with three time periods available: 7 day, 14 day and 21 day. You can select an activation date, when transforming your ‘exchange order’, which can be up to 30 days from the time of transformation, so you don’t need to activate it right away.

Here is how the Japan Rail Pass works in six easy steps:

1. Buy your Japan Rail Pass – you can choose between 7, 14 or 21 days and select Economy or Green Car (executive class).

2. Receive your exchange order – you will be shipped your Exchange Order, this is required in order to receive your actual pass in Japan.

3. Go to Japan with your Exchange Order.

4. Get your ‘Temporary Visa’ stamp –if you’re Australian you will automatically receive a temporary visa stamp in your passport on arrival.

5. Transform your Exchange Order into a Japan Rail Pass – locate the nearest JR Travel Service Center to change your exchange order into your Japan Rail Pass.

6. Discover Japan using your Japan Rail Pass – now is the fun part you can start using your Japan Rail Pass to discover all that Japan has to offer.

Is the Japan Rail Pass worth it?

Is the Japan Rail Pass worth the cost? It really depends on your itinerary and how much long distance travel you plan on doing. If you just plan on travelling within Tokyo then it is not worth it. If you plan on visiting some popular destinations like Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kanazawa, Takayama, Hiroshima and Miyajima, then it is definitely worth it and the most affordable way to travel around. To give you a general idea, a return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto will cost you around the same price as a 7-day Japan Rail Pass. If you plan on traveling more than that, definitely get it.

A good tool to help plan your trips in Japan and work out how much train travel costs in Japan is the Hyperdia website. Use this site to see how much it will cost to visit the places you want to see and compare it to the cost of one of the rail passes.

You can get your hands on a great-value-for-money Japan Rail Pass by visiting the Japan Rail Pass Now website.

Japan Rail Pass

Festivals and Events for January 2017 in Japan

oshogatsu New Year's in Japan

Festivals and Events for January 2017 in Japan

January in Japan is the middle of winter with cold temperatures throughout the country. It is typically one of the coldest months, but it is still a good time to travel with clear crisp days and blue skies. Most of the country shuts down for New Year’s but re-opens again around January 4th. There are quite a few traditional cultural festivals and events happening around this time of the year in Japan to enjoy.

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

1-3 January 2017

Event: New Year’s (oshogatsu)
Location: All over Japan

New Year’s or oshogatsu in Japanese is one of the most important holidays on the calendar. It is a time to look back to the past and follow the traditional customs of the festive season. Most people will return home to spend the time together with their family, kind of like Christmas in the West. It is a popular tradition to visit a temple or shrine at midnight on December 31st. The most important ritual is hatsumode, which is the first visit to the local shrine to pray for health, happiness and prosperity.

Read more about New Year’s traditions and customs in Japan

6 January 2017

Event: Dezomi-shiki (New Year’s Parade of Firemen)
Location: Tokyo
Time: All Day
Price of Admission: FREE

The Dezomi-shiki or New Year’s Parade of Firemen is a fun way to celebrate New Year’s in Tokyo with thrilling acrobatic performances and a spectacular historical reconstitution of Edo period fire-fighters in action. The event features a parade of over 100 vehicles and helicopters from the Tokyo Metropolitan Fire Department, large-scale fire-fighting and emergency drills and various spectacular performances including a display of death-defying ladder stunts, which pay homage to the tradition of Edo period firemen.

Official Website

8-22 January 2017

Event: Sumo Hatsu Basho (Opening Tournament)
Location: Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo

The first sumo tournament of the New Year starts in Tokyo and is always keenly anticipated. All eyes will be on Japanese rikishi, Shodai after he received his first promotion to sumo’s third highest rank of Sekiwake for this tournament. The young wrestler from Kumamoto is a rising star and has quickly climbed the ranks of sumo’s elite.

9 January 2017

Event: Seijin no Hi (Coming of Age Day)
National Holiday

Coming of Age Day or Seijin no Hi is a special ceremony held on the second Monday of January for boys and girls who will reach the age of 20. It marks the rite of passage into adulthood for 20-year-olds in Japan. Twenty is considered the beginning of adulthood in Japan, and is the age when you can legally vote, drink and smoke. Girls in kimono and boys in suits or hakama will visit large shrines to celebrate. Special ‘Coming of Age’ ceremonies are also held at local city offices across the country to congratulate and encourage the new young adults.

15 January 2017

Event: Nozawa Fire Festival
Location: Nozawa Onsen Village, Nagano Prefecture
Time: 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Nozawa Fire Festival is a powerful and energetic winter festival held at the traditional Japanese onsen village of Nozawa Onsen in the Japan Alps of Nagano Prefecture. The festival features fire, snow and sake, as well as several parades and ceremonies in the village square. The highlight of the festival is the “fire-setting” battle, which features a large wooden shrine constructed specially for the occasion. The festival climaxes with a massive bonfire as the wooden shrine succumbs to the flames of the victors and is offered to the gods.

Official Website

15 January 2017

Event: Santera Mairi Festival
Location: Hida Furukawa
Time: Held during the evening
Price of Admission: FREE

The Santera Mairi Festival (three temple pilgrimage) is held in the beautiful small town of Hida Furukawa, which is just north of Hida Takayama in Gifu Prefecture. During the festival, 1000 candles line the Seto-gawa River creating a stunning landscape in combination with the snow. The candles called warosoku (Japanese candles) are a specialty of Hida Furukawa. There are also 40-50 ice sculpture candles made of snow which can be seen in the main streets of the old town.

Official Website

22, 23, 29, 30 January 2017

Event: Shirakawa-go Winter Illumination
Location: Shirakawa-go Village, Gifu Prefecture
Time: 17:30 – 19:30
Price of Admission: FREE

Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its gassho zukuri farmhouses. This place has been famous for years due to its steeply slanting thatched roof farmhouses, which look just like two hands joined together in prayer. The beauty of the village is raised to an even higher level when the houses are lit up in the snow during winter. Spotlights illuminate the snow-covered thatched roofs and surrounding grounds, which makes the village look like a magical winter wonderland straight out of a fairy tale.

Official Website

25 January 2017

Event: Wakakusa Yamayaki Festival
Location: Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

Originating in the 18th century, the burning of Mount Wakakusa is one of Japan’s most spectacular festivals. It is held on the fourth Saturday of January, with the mountain being set alight by fire, while simultaneously fireworks light up the sky. It is believed to have started over a boundary dispute between Kofuku-ji Temple and Todai-ji Temple in Nara. The festival starts with a torch being lit with sacred fire at Kasuga Taisha Shrine. The fire is carried by Buddhist monks to a small shrine at the foot of the mountain. Then, the mountain is set alight by members of Kofuku-ji, Todai-ji and Kasuga Taisha.

Festivals and Events for January 2017 in Japan