Festivals in Japan are unique and different from what you would expect. There really is no comparison to festivals in Japan, either in scale or entertainment value. The next ten items on this list are all conveniently located in Tokyo and will certainly make your trip one to remember. Keep in mind that Tokyo has a population of nearly 13 million, so plan accordingly because each event is well-known and popular.
#1 Kanda Festival
Photo Credit: Marufish@flickr
The Kanda Festival is perhaps one of Tokyo’s most famous festivals. The festival itself has a long history dating back to the Edo Period (1603-1867). This festival lasts nearly a week, but most of the best stuff happens over the weekend that is usually around May 15th every year. There are parades and an all day long procession that weaves through central Tokyo and other neighborhoods. The festival pays homage to the three deities enshrined at the Kanda Myojin Shrine and over the years it has became associated as a celebration for wealth and good fortune. If you plan to see this festival, you should know that this festival only takes place in odd numbered years.
Address: 2-16-2 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
Access: 5 minute walk from Ochanomizu Station
Website: Kanda Festival (Japanese)
#2 Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival
Probably one of the most spectator friendly events, the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival is visually spectacular. This is an annual festival that is held on the last Saturday every July near the Sumidagawa River. The actual name is Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai and it involves rival pyrotechnic groups trying to outdo each other with their fireworks displays. The event brings nearly a million spectators and is a homage to firework events and celebrations held during the Edo Period.
Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival
Address: Higashikomagata, Sumida Ward, Tokyo
Website: Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival
#3 Hachioji Festival
Photo Credit: DickThomasJohnson@flickr
This is another great festival to experience while in Japan. Hachioji Festival is a traditional Japanese festival usually held in August. It takes place in Hachioji, a suburb of Tokyo. During the main procession, you can see the Mikoshi (portable shrines) and a number of different Japanese floats. With nearly 300 different food stand and gift shops, there will be no short supply of delicious treats and entertainment.
Address: Around Hachioji station north exit
Access: 5 minute walk from Hachioji Station
Website: Hachioji Festival (Japanese)
#4 Hana Matsuri Asakusa
Hana Matsuri in Asakusa is the celebration of Buddha’s birthday. It is also known as the Flower Festival. The main event takes place at Asakusa’s famous Sensoji Temple, however a number of other temples in Tokyo also celebrate this day. During the celebration, a painting shows the birth of Buddha, it can be seen in the main temple where a Buddhist service is held. If you make it there between 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM, you may be treated to some Hydrangea tea. Next year’s Hana Matsuri will be on April 4th, 2017.
Hana Matsuri Asakusa (Floral Festival)
Address: 2-3-3 Asakusa, Taito Ward, Tokyo
Access: 5 minute walk from Asakusa Station
#5 Tokyo Jazz Festival
Photo Credit: arban-mag.com
Moving away from the more traditional festivals, the Tokyo Jazz Festival is still worth visiting. Taking place every September, this is Japan’s largest jazz festival and it features some of the biggest names within jazz today. Performers from around the world are invited and of course Japanese musicians are showcased as well. You usually have to purchase tickets to see the main performance, however during this time there are a number of smaller venues sometimes offering free shows.
Tokyo Jazz Festival
Address: Venue varies depend on year
Website: Tokyo Jazz Festival
#6 Tokyo Yosakoi Festival
The Tokyo Yosakoi Festival is put on by four different shop associations located in Ikebukuro Station. This festival takes place every October and it has a history of nearly 50 years. Yosakoi is a song accompanied with a dance and each year, this festival brings over 100 teams who come to show off their Yosakoi dance.
Tokyo Yosakoi Festival
Address: Around Ikebukuro Station
Website: Tokyo Yosakoi Festival (Japanese)
#7 Tokyo Ramen Show
Photo Credit: GuilhemVellut@flickr
This event runs every year from the middle of October to the middle of November, it is one of the most delicious festivals on the list. This even manages to feature 40 different ramen vendors from around Japan and even a few international groups. The first part of the event runs for the first six days featuring 20 ramen vendors. The second part runs the remaining five days and features a different set of 20 ramen vendors. You can find this event at the Central Plaza at Komazawa Olympic Park.
Tokyo Ramen Show
Address: 1-1 Komazawa Koen, Setagaya Ward, Tokyo
Access: 15 minute walk from Setagaya Koen Station
Website: Tokyo Ramen Show (Japanese)
#8 Sumida Sakura Festival
Sumida Sakura Festival is a great opportunity to see and enjoy cherry blossoms in Japan. There are so many cherry blossoms along the Sumida River. This area is close from Asakusa and Tokyo sky tree, so you can see a lot of beautiful Japanese cherry blossoms when you visit there,
Sumida Sakura Festival
Address: Mukojima, Sumida Ward, Tokyo
Access: 10 minute walk from Asakusa Station
Website: Sumida Sakura Festival (Japanese)
#9 Mitama Festival
Photo Credit: ManishPrabhune@flickr
This festival is held during the middle of summer in mid-July at the ever controversial, Yasukuni Shrine. This festival honors the dead and features all the festivals must have like food and beer vendors. Walking on the path leading to the main shrine, you will be flanked by 30,000 lanterns strung from scaffolding creating an almost tunnel effect. This is a multi-day festival and runs from the middle of the week into the weekend. It is very easy to get here and is only a short walk from the Tokyo’s Kudanshita Station.
Address: 3-1-1 Kudankita, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
Access: 5 minute walk from Kudanshita Station
Website: Mitama Festival (Japanese)
#10 Edogawa-ku Fireworks Festival
Another fantastic Japanese fireworks show that is a must see is the Edogawa-ku Fireworks Festival. This festival and fireworks show is held on the first Sunday every August. Coordinated with music, this fireworks display will leave you breathless and if you get a good spot early, you can even feel the shockwaves of each blast. Make sure to come early because this event is very popular.
Edogawa-ku Fireworks Festival
Area: Edo River, Edogawa Ward, Tokyo
Access: 15 minute walk from Shinozaki Station
Website: Edogawa-ku Fireworks Festival (Japanese)