festivals & events
A lively festival that is held on 3rd January at Hakozakigu Shrine. As you can imagine its pretty cold at the time, but it does not stop the participants! Half-Naked competitors are divided into 2 teams and fight to catch an incredibly heavy ball. Needless to say, they are doused with cold water at the time!
Toka Ebisu Festival
Is an incredible event held all over Japan, but in Fukuoka it takes place at Toka Ebisu Shrine… It is a 4-day long event which has over 1 million visitors every year. The culmination of the festival is the parade of Geisha who come to visit the shrine.
Begone evil winter! This festival is held the last day before Spring in Japan. One of the more interesting traditions is called 豆まき (bean throwing). It is supposed to drive the evil spirits away for the year. by throwing beans at them!
Kyokusui no En
A festival of poetry! The participants are dressed in traditional costumes and sit along a small canal. The game is to compose a poem (tanka) and drink a cup of sake before another sake cup floating on the canal reaches them.
Hakata Dontaku Port Festival
Held during the Golden Week in Japan on the 3rd and 4th of May. A two-day festival filled with dances, floating displays and lots of colour (and fun of course). Each year more than two million people come to see the festivities and it is well worth it!
Hakata Gion Yamakasa
Yamakasa! Is world famous! This 2-week party sees a number of teams representing parts of Hakata creating awesome floats to be raced on the streets of Hakata on the last day of the festival. The competitors are judged on how fast, strong and cool they are!
Taking place in Hakozaki Shrine in the Hakata area every year between September 12th and 18th, more than a million people visit the shrine during its celebration, making it a must go in Fukuoka's Autumn. You will be able to see different Shinto rituals and over 500 stalls lining both sides of the Shrine accessing road where you can buy multiple souvenirs as "Chanpon" (glass instruments intricately hand painted by "miko" (shrine maidens)) or eat plenty of traditional Japanese food as yakitori, takoyaki, among others.
Taking place at Fureai Hiroba (near Fukuoka city hall) during mid-September consist in various events with the theme of “Asia” and “Creativity” . You can see performances by popular as well as up-and-coming Japanese and other Asian countries artists under a spectacular sound and visual effects display, watch all kind of Asian movies like in the cinema for free or try your creativity skills in the different hands-on booths on the spot.
Taking place near Nakasu-Kawabata station, the main event is t the "Kunihiro Onna Mikoshi " that consist in a parade of portable shrines being carried by women (more than 500 women in total). There are also multiple events being hold on special stages set up uniquely for the festival and different food stands with traditional Japanese food to enjoy.
The Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament
Taking place on the 2nd Sunday of November at the Kyūshū Basho, it is one of the six main Sumo tournaments held each year since 1958. You will be able to have the unique experience of seeing Sumo matches between the best Sumo players in the world so if you like this traditional Japanese sport it is really a must go if you are in Fukuoka by then.
This annual event attracts anime lovers and otaku from all over the world. You can see exhibitions by most of the biggest anime and manga companies in Japan, and attend live talks and shows by voice actors, bands and much more!
Taking place at Tokyo Big Sight every year on January 6th, it is also called New Year’s Parade of Firemen and members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Fire Department display a risky demonstration to remind and warn citizens of the dangers of fire while praying for a safe New Year. This traditional festival started during the Edo period when many big first struck Edo (previous name for Tokyo) and forced the creation of the special jobikeshi fire brigade to protect the city strategic sites.
Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi
Try to say it in one breath… and go! And it has Genki in the name! It is a fun and massively popular dance festival and contest held on the last weekend of August in Tokyo. Thousands of dancers and performers gather to show off their skills, parade in front of awe stuck spectators and dance their hearts out.
Hozuki-ichi at Senso-ji Temple
This event takes place on the 10th of July, or "shimanrokusen" day, which is believed to be the best day to visit at a temple. According to the legends it counts the same as 46,000 such visits on any other day. 120 flower stalls (Hozuki-ichi - flower that resembles a red paper lantern and which is believed to have healing properties) are placed all over the Sensoji temple grounds to make it colorful and welcoming.
This festival is held in honour of Tokugawa Ieyasu and his victory at the battle of Sekigahara which marked the unofficial beginning of Tokugawa Shogunate. It is one of the three main festivals held in Tokyo and it has been running since the early 1600s. A great number of events are held over one week, with the whole thing culminating around 15th May. Expect parades, portable shrines and tons of fun!
One of the biggest summer festivals celebrating Japanese culture and dance! As the name suggests, dancers are performing the so-called Awa dance the history of which can be traced back 4 centuries. The festival is not quite as old, but with over 60 years under its belt it is likely to continue for quite some time!
Meiji Spring festival
Can you guess where it is? That’s right – Meiji Jingu! Like many festivals around the world, it celebrates the change of season. This event is steeped in tradition with dances, ceremonies, traditional arts being performed in front of the gods of Shinto religion.
Next Generation World Hobby Fair
Taking place in Chiba at the end of January or the end of June, depending on the year, this fair is the best place to be able to check all currently available video and board games including latest launches that are not yet at the regular shops or unique editions only available at the event. Also some manga artists involved in the game industry might be offering autographs at one of the multiple stands to make it even more fun!
Taking place in mid June in even numbered years, alternating with the Kanda Matsuri which takes place in odd numbered years. It is one of the three most famous festivals in Tokyo, lasting 11 days and offering multiple events at Hie Shrine (near Shimbashi station), where the deity of Tokyo is said to be enshrined. The most famous event is Its parade which begins and ends at Hie Shrine over a route of more than 9 hours through Central Tokyo.
Tokyo Game show
This is an annual convention which takes place in September in Tokyo and it has been going on for over two decades. It is an amazing gathering of for professionals and enthusiasts alike. Anyone who is interested in the video game industry should go.
Taking place in early June each year at the Torigoe Shrine (800 meters from Shin-Okachimachi Station). Watch the procession of the "omikoshi" (portable shrine) which has a weight of approximately 4 tons!!! It is the biggest "omikoshi" in Tokyo making this festival a clear image of Japanese continuous cultural endeavor.
Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatoro
It is a festival of light. Held for 10 days in early March, it sees the whole of Higashiyama district of Kyoto light up and a magnificent display of light. A number of temples and shrines invite the visitors to enjoy the specially arranged lights in the inner gardens. Dancing, music, ikebana arrangements and countless little streets and lanes lit up during this wonderful festival.
The Geisha Odori
When you think about Japan and her tradition one of the images that appear in most people`s minds is the beautiful Geisha. Kyoto sees five major Odori or dances throughout the year and if you in Kyoto these are not to be missed.
It is a performance which usually takes the form of a 3 part performance: a play, dance and the final part called Kamishichiken Serenade. The event is held from late March to early April.
Held by the Miyagawa – Cho Geisha area. It is the second of the Odori events held in early to mid-April.
This mid-April event is held by the Gion district and it is the biggest of the Odori of Kyoto.
This dance is held by the Geishas of the Pontocho district. This event takes place in May concluding the 4 Odori events taking place during Spring.
The last of the five Geisha Odori events and it takes Place in November. If you have a chance to see at least one of these events, please do yourself a favour and book a ticket! The beauty and elegance of these dances will, no doubt, make you see the world in a different light!
See these horseriders shooting arrows while galloping through the grounds of the famous Shimogamo Shrine. This adrenaline filled festival only lasts for 1 day, but the energy and the excitement of the day will stay with you for the rest of your life!
Is one of the biggest festivals in Kyoto and together with the Gion and Jidai Festivals they make up the trinity of the most important and famous festivals in Kyoto and that is something! 15th of May is the day and it sees a parade of hundreds of people dressed in traditional Japanese clothing from the Heian period. Aoi means hollyhock and the festival is named after this beautiful flower.
As the name suggests this festival takes place in Gion district of Kyoto and it is considered to be the most famous festival in Japan. It takes place in July and runs for almost all of the month! Though not a race, it is quite similar to Yamakasa festival of Fukuoka, where on 17th and 24th of July, Kyoto locals and visitors alike flood the streets enjoying the spectacle of traditional floats being carried through Gion! Needless to say, there is so much more to do during this festival and if you ever wondered what the street vendor festival food tastes like, this is as good of a time as ever to check it out!
Remember the date – 22nd October. Jidai or 時代 in Japanese meaning "Age" and so the festival lives up to the name. Some 2000 participant parade through the streets of Kyoto all the way from the Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine dressed in traditional clothing representing different eras of Japanese history. Octobers are not too hot or cold in Kyoto, so if you have a chance to come and visit us in October, then this event is not to be missed!
Yagoto-san Koshoji Temple's Joya no Kane
A New Year Celebration Ceremony which takes place on the night 31st December. Yogotosan Koshoji Temple monks ring a massive bell 108 times to purify all attendees before the beginning of another year! If you want, you can participate in the ringing as well!
Nagoya Castle Autumn Festival
It takes place from mid-October to mid-November. Really a collective name for several events taking place in and around Nagoya Castle. Don't miss it!
Osu Street Performers Festival
This festival originated from the Oiran procession of Edo Jidai. Nowadays it is more of a street-theatre festival where you may see dancers, comedians and street magicians. You can still spot some oiran walking about, portrayed by volunteers from the local community.
If you want to see Oda Nobunaga, Tokugawa Iyeasu and other famous historical figures of Japan walking the streets of Nagoya, this festival is for you! Other events are held throughout the city.
Hanami Flower Viewing
Probably one of the most well-known times of the year of Japan. You can enjoy this beautiful season almost anywhere in Japan and Nagoya is no exception! Go to Nagoya Castle, or Nagoya Agricultural Centre to enjoy this wonder of nature.
Osu Summer Festival & Fireworks
Live concerts, cosplay events, even a samba dance parade. Does it sound like one of the biggest events in Nagoya? Yes, it does. If you want to know the meaning of the word "Festival", you can learn it here.
The festival is held in Inuyama Town, north of central Nagoya at the beginning of April which coincides beautifully with the cherry blossom season. You will see thirteen amazing floats accompanied by music, dancing and general fun! At night lanterns are lit, which presents a beautiful sight for anyone to see.
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