Festivals and Events for December 2017 in Japan

Festivals and Events for December 2014 in Japan

Festivals and Events for December 2017 in Japan

December in Japan is the start of winter and the colder months. It is a great time to enjoy the spectacular winter illuminations which can be seen across Japan. The weather is cool to cold with the ski/snowboard season officially opening at ski resorts across the country. Snow has already starting falling in Hokkaido, Tohoku and The Japan Alps. There are also quite a few traditional cultural festivals and events happening around this time of the year.

Here are a few of the most popular December festivals and events in Japan for 2017.

2-3 December 2017

Event: Chichibu Yomatsuri
Location: Chichibu Shrine, Saitama
Time: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Chichibu Yomatsuri is one of Japan’s ‘Three Greatest Float Festivals’ and is held at Chichibu Shrine in Saitama near Tokyo. The festival is held at night and is one of the most spectacular winter festivals in Japan. It features gorgeous large festival floats and mikoshi portable shrines against a backdrop of mountains and fireworks. The impressive fireworks display lasts for close to two and a half hours and is a rare chance in Japan to see fireworks in winter.

Official Website

14 December 2017

Event: Gishi-sai Festival
Location: Sengakuji Temple, Tokyo
Time: 7:00 am to 9:00 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Gishi-sai festival held at the Sengakuji Temple in Tokyo commemorates and honours the famous 47 ronin, who in 1703 avenged their master’s death by killing his adversary. The story is one of Japan’s best loved tales and it is here at Sengakuji Temple that you will find the graves of the 47 loyal servants and their master, Lord Asano. The festival features traditional dances, a memorial service and the highlight, a warrior procession (Gishi Gyoretsu) of volunteers dressed as the 47 ronin, who parade through the streets.

Official Website

15-18 December 2017

Event: Kasuga Wakamiya On-Matsuri
Location: Wakamiya Jinja Shrine, Nara
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The On-Matsuri is held at Wakamiya Jinja Shrine in the precincts of the Kasuga Taisha Grand Shrine in Nara. It was first held in the 12th century to pray for the end of epidemic plague and for a rich harvest. The festival goes for 4 days with the 17th the main day with the Jidai Gyoretsu (Procession of the Eras). It features costumes from the Heian Period to the Edo Period (9th Century to 19th Century).

Official Website

23 December 2017

Event: The Emperor’s Birthday (Tenno no Tanjobi)
National Holiday

The Emperor’s Birthday is celebrated on December 23 which is a National Holiday in Japan. The date is determined by the reigning Emperor’s birth date. The current Emperor, Akihito was born on this day in 1933. A public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, where the gates of the palace are opened for the public. It is a rare chance to see Japan’s beloved emperor out in public.

31 December 2017

Event: Oga no Namahage Festival
Location: Oga Peninsula, Akita
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

Held on New Year’s Eve around Oga City in Akita Prefecture. The festival features Namahage, a strange deity resembling a demon, known as oni in Japanese. It is an ancient folk tradition where young men dress as the Namahage and visit the homes of children to warn them not to be lazy or bad in the coming new year. The event has been passed down from generation to generation since ancient times.

Official Website

Festivals and Events for December 2017 in Japan

John Asano (101 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/

  • Makoto Taguchi

    Could you add an event which is held on December 22nd, the winter solstice day on the Nagara-gawa River in Gifu City?
    It is called “Koyomi no Yobune” , you can see the procession made by boats with large paper lanterns showing calender and chinese zodiacs.

    Thank you for your photo at Gifu-koen Park.

    gifu-guide makoto

    • http://japantraveladvice.com/ Japan Travel Advice

      Thank you for the great idea. I have seen Koyomi no Yobune many times when I lived in Nagara. I will have to remember to add it next time. I am always trying my best to promote my home of Gifu.