Matsuri festivals are those which are celebrated on the local level. There are days during which they are held throughout Japan and are sponsored at various shrines or temples located throughout the city. Similar to a block party, these festivals are celebrated by the people surrounding the location and have many different activities to enjoy from karaoke, sumo, to games, there is something for everyone and every age. Enjoying at least one is highly recommended during your stay.

Japanese Festivals

  • Hanami
  • Matsuri
  • Hanabi
  • Sanja Matsuri

    Description Also known as the three shrine festival, the Sanja Matsuri is just one in a series of three festivals that celebrate shinto. Held to honor Hinokuma Hamanari and Hajino Nakatomo who were two of three who founded Senso-ji. It is always celebrated the third weekend of May and is considered the largest of the three festivals. Festivities are at the Asakusa Shrine, beginning with a parade and adorned with three portable shrines for decor.

    Kanda Matsuri

    Description One of three Shinto festivals that are held in Tokyo the other three being the Sanno Matsuri and the Fukagawa Matsuri, it has been celebrated since as far back as the 17th century. Held on the Saturday and Sunday which is closest to the date of May 15th, it is only held odd numbered years. The reason for the festival name is because it is held at the Kanda Shrine located in Kanda. Parades and festivities abound, there are dancers, musicians and floats.

    Sanno Matsuri

    Description Sanno Matsuri is one of three shinto festivals that are held in Tokyo. Held in June, but only on even numbered years, it is accompanied by the three other shinto festivals Fukagawa Matsuri and Kanda Matsuri. It is a celebration that lasts over the course of a week, with a parade that lasts an entire day. I big deal is made about the festivals and they are beloved by the Japanese people and highly celebrated.

    Kyoto Gion Matsuri

    Description The Gion festival is an annual celebration that takes place in Kyoto. Deeply seeded in tradition, it is one of the most popular festivals located in Japan. There is a parade that not only lines the street, but stops traffic from passing. Held on July 15th every year, it is a time where people crowd to watch the parade, take part in the festivities and eat the many treats which are abound. Food is a huge part of the festival, and so is the custom of locals opening up their homes to the public.

    Koenji Awa Odori

    Description The Awa dance festival is held as part of the Odon festival located in Tokushima. On August 12 to the 15th of the year, it is a week long celebration, it claims to have over 1.3 million tourists in attendance every year. It is the largest dance festival in Japan. The festival is solely dedicated to dance where groups of different dancers and musicians parade through the street with singing and a show for everyone to enjoy. The beginnings of the festival date back centuries and is a tradition across Japan.

    Yosakoi (Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi)

    Description In 1954 a dance craze was initiated in Japan that still exists today. A specific type of dance it is performed exclusively at the Awa Dori summer dance festival that is held yearly between the dates of August 12-15. It is a choreographed dance that involves many groups and individuals who perform as teams. It is a popular dance, and considered a sport in the Japanese culture. The teams are usually comprised of both men and women of all ages.

    Tourou Nagashi

    Description The Tourou Nagashi is a ceremony that is rooted in the Japanese culture. It involves paper lanterns which are set afloat into the river to float downstream. Toro literally means lantern and nagashi is “flow” hence the nbame of the ceremony. Held during the evening, it is a tradition during the Bon Festival and is one which symbolizes the people who have left the earth to move onto another world beyond ours. Primarily a ceremony to honor those who lost their lives during Hiroshima, it also has celebration for all those who are no longer here.

    Akita Kanto Matsuri

    Description From August third to the sixth the Akita Kanto festival is held. Celebrated to hope for good harvests around Japans rural countryside, there are over 200 bamboo poles erected, each having lanterns which are paraded through the streets by the many participants in attendance. Began in 1789, it is a deeply rooted tradition in Japan and one which has become a great tourist attraction. The celebration involves dancers, musicians and attractions for the duration of the three days.

    Aomori Nebuta Matsuri

    Description The Aomori Nebuta Matsuri is a festival that is held during the summer in Aomori Perfecture Japan. It is one of the largest tourists attractions held around Japan. The festival is among three that are held in the Took region. A fold culturally based festival there are floats, parades and other entertainment abound. Unique characters dance and parade up and down the streets to entertain the crowds who stand in attendance, cheering and chanting.

    Owara Kaze-no-Bon

    Description Held every year from September first to the third, the Owara Kaze-no-Bon festival literally means the “Bon Dance of the Wind”. It is one of the largest tourist attraction, dating back over 300 years. A festival that was originally held to make a bountiful harvest of rice and to ward off typhoons, it has quickly turned into more of an event to entertain those who come to watch. Dancers line the streets and participate in music and festivities for the crowds who watch.

    Tori no Ichi

    Description A festival that is held at the Ootori Shrine located in Kanto, it is a place where individuals are able to buy amulets that are supposed ti bring them good luck for the year. The day of celebration is different every year, and is rotated around the day of Tori of Eto animal. A celebration that is meant to bring on good luck for its participants it is a happy day filled with hope and good wishes. Many tourists flock to it and enjoy the festivities.

    Sapporo Yuki Matsuri

    Description The Yuki Matsuri festival is one of the largest festivals held in Hokkaido Perfecture Japan. It was first begun in the year 1950 when there were statutes erected in Odori Park. Held in February, high school students began the tradition which has since turned into a major event. The celebration is marked by some of the most amazing artists renditions of snow and ice sculptures. A really cool event, it is an amazement to see all the many talents of those who participate yearly.

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