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

John Asano (94 Posts)

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/