Festivals and Events for May 2017 in Japan

Koinobori for Children's Day in Japan

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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

John Asano (91 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/