Miyoshi Inari Shrine Giant Lantern Festival 2019-Enjoy Lantern Night in Aichi!
Tokyo, Yokohama and Kanto
Tokyo is a miracle and always there. And Tokyo summer events and festivals are relevant indeed. Tokyo is the megacity that connects you to its special creativity and the whole Japanese culture. I have read a book by a Harvard economist, who said that one of humanity’s greatest inventions is cities.
If you agree with it, Tokyo is probably the greatest example. More than 35 million residents in Greater Tokyo make the city the world’s most populous metropolitan area and support the economic and social base in various fields. So, Tokyo can serve as one of the most creative urban centers in the world. Tokyo is proud of its dynamic power to rebuild because it has been destroyed twice just in the past 100 years: By the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and by air raids during World War II. I don’t mean to start this article with something like a preface in a sociology textbook, but the repetition of devastation and reconstruction Tokyo experienced ever in its history might be behind the city’s real strength and creativity.
-Beerfess Tokyo 2019 at Ebisu Garden Place, Shibuya
-Torigoe Festival at Torigoe Shrine, Taito
-“Hotaru” Fireflies Festival, Fussa
-Shonan-Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa
-“Asagao” Morning Glory Market at Iriya-kishimojin Shrine, Taito
-Uchiwa Festival, Kumagaya, Saitama
-Shimbashi Koichi Festival
-Geinoh Yamashirogumi Kecak Festival, Shinjuku
-Asakusa Samba Carnival, Taito
-Koenji Awa-odori Dance Festival
-Azabu-juban Noryo Festival
Summer in Tokyo is very hot and humid. So, it is probably one of the periods of time tourists would like to avoid visiting Japan, especially megacities like Tokyo, Osaka, or Nagoya. The residents of these cities are well aware of the “heat island effect”. It occurs when daytime heat is trapped by asphalt roads and concrete buildings in the cities. That triggers sudden violent downpours – “guerrilla storms” and causes the sultry nights for days. But to feel the essence of Tokyo, on the other hand, it is actually summer that is one of the best times to the “hottest center” in the Land of the Rising Sun. Anyway, just beware of heat strokes and enjoy your trip to this attractive city. Here are some tips to protect from Tokyo’s killer heat.
• Keep hydrated and avoid the sun in the middle of the day. Plan activities for early mornings and late afternoons.
• Take a light jacket, cardigan or shawl with you for air-conditioned trains and buses.
• Pick up an “uchiwa” fan to keep cool. Sometimes, people give it for free near stations and commercial facilities.
Image courtesy of Tastuo Yamashita
Dates: June 1st and 2nd
Place: Ebisu Garden Place, Shibuya/Meguro
Nothing says summer like cold beers, doesn’t it? BeerFes, the official name is the Great Japan Beer Festival, is a beer tasting event that started first in Tokyo in 1998. Then in Osaka from 2003. After that, this event also started to take place in Yokohama, Nagoya, and Okinawa, becoming the largest beer festival in Japan. You can enjoy a wide variety of beers and compare the differences in flavor and aroma. You will taste some award-winning brand beers at this event. Pay ¥5,200 per person (including admission and tax), and you can try as many brands as possible. Please note that the ticket is valid only on the day you buy it and for hours printed on your ticket. For more details, check their official website: http://www.beerfes.jp/index_beerfes_tyo_e.html.
Image courtesy of Zengame
Dates: Early to middle June
Places: Asukayama Park, Kita / Hakusan Shrine, Bunkyo
Japanese often associate blooming “Ajisai (アジサイ)” hydrangeas with early summer rainy season in June. (The flower is popular for its beauty of pale colors, not so much as flowers like “ume” Japanese apricots or “sakura” cherry blossoms in spring, though.) There are several spots in Tokyo featuring the flowers as “hydrangea festival”.
Asukayama Park (https://www.city.kita.tokyo.jp/d-douro/bunka/koenichiran/asukayama.html.) in Kita, the northern part of the metropolis and Hakusan Shrine (https://www.city.bunkyo.lg.jp/ajisai.html.) in Bunkyo are two of the recommendations. Especially, the latter is famous for “Bunkyo Ajisai Festival” among the locals. If you don’t mind one-hour train trip from Tokyo to Kamakura, Kanagawa, Meigetsu-in Temple, which is famous for its unique variety of ancient Japanese hydrangeas – “Hime-Ajisai,” is waiting for you. The admission is ¥500.
Dates: June 7th to 9th
Place: Torikoe Shrine at Torigoe, Taito
“Torikoe (鳥越)” Shrine stands in the “Tori-goe (鳥越)” district of Kuramaebashi, Taito. (Reading Kanji characters is pretty confusing.) The Shrine was established over 1,300 years ago, enshrining Yamato Takeru, the most well-known prince in Japanese legends. The highlight of the festival is a magnificent parade on Sunday. There, you can see a heavy mikoshi called “Senkan (千貫)-mikoshi”, which weighs about four tons/ The senkan, a traditional unit of weight in Japan, is equal to about 3,750kg. Bearers of the mikoshi often develop calluses on their shoulders. They are proud of their shoulder bumps what they call “mikoshi-dako (mikoshi callus)” as reverence for the deity worshiped in the shrine. For more details, please check on the following website: http://www.city.taito.lg.jp/index/event/kanko/torikoematsuri.html.
Image courtesy of Tsuneaki Hiramastu
Dates: June 15th
Place: Hotaru Park and an area along the Tamagawa Aqueduct, Fussa
Located along the Tama River running in the western part of Tokyo, Fussa is home to many parks and sports facilities. Fussa Firefly Festival has been a popular event in such nature-rich district for over 50 years. On the event day, about 500 fireflies raised by the local people are released in Hotaru Park and a nearby area along the Tamagawa Aqueduct. The scenes of the fireflies dancing elegantly in the air makes a fantasy-like world around you. Performances take place on a special stage and many food stalls serve refreshments. This adds to the fun and excitement to the atmosphere of the event. The festival attracts about 30,000 visitors every year. For more details, please check on the following website: https://www.city.fussa.tokyo.jp/sightseeing/osusumeevent/hotaru/1006386.html.
Image courtesy of Cassiopeia sweet
Dates: July 5th to 7th
Place: Downtown Hiratsuka
There are a lot of “Tanabata (七夕)” Star Festivals across the country in early to mid-July. Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival is definitely one of the most popular Tanabata events in Kanto Region, attracting about 1.5 million people in the three-day period. As many as 500 gloriously decorated bamboo poles are placed along the main streets in downtown Hiratsuka. Seeing the whole event area wrapped in colorful decorations makes you feel the festive enthusiasm circulating around you.
Its overwhelming atmosphere makes the festival one of Japan’s three great Tanabata festivals along with Sendai Tanabata festival in Miyagi and Ichinomiya Tanabata festival in Aichi. Hiratsuka stands along the popular Shonan coastline in Kanagawa close to Tokyo Metropolis. About 80-minute train ride (on the Tokaido Line JR) from Tokyo takes you to Hiratsuka. It’s easily accessible. Here is the official website (Japanese only): http://www.tanabata-hiratsuka.com/.
Dates: July 6th to 8th
Place: The Kototoi Street around Shingen-ji Temple at Shitaya, Taito
Morning glories are a great summer feature in Japan, and many morning glory markets take place around the country. The largest of its kind is the Iriya Morning Glory Market. About 120,000 pots of morning glories are sold at 60 booths lining the street. During the Edo period of the 17th to 19th centuries, growing potted morning glories started to catch on among the commoners as the population in Edo (current Tokyo Metropolis) and other cities increased. The Iriya Morning Glory Market had already gained popularity before the Meiji era starting in 1868. Because of a local summer festival that takes place along with the Asagao market, the street is usually crowded with about 400,000 people visiting this Shita-machi area in the northern part of Asakusa. Please read my article for more details about the market:
Image courtesy of Carbonium
Dates: July 20th to 22nd
Place: Downtown Kumagaya
In Fly Me to the Saitama, the Japanese comedy known as “Tonde Saitama” with its theme of affectionately “dissing” Saitama Prefecture adjacent to Tokyo, it has the image of being a land of bedroom towns with no cultural attractions. But Uchiwa Festival in Kumagaya, Saitama, is a cultural treasure that makes Saitama-ites proud of the land they live on. Twelve “dashi” festive floats, children’s and adults’, march through the streets in downtown Kumagaya, which is said to be one of the hottest cities in Japan. Musical accompaniments take place with a special gong that makes a big and deep sound.
Since the deity enshrined at Yasaka Shrine Kyoto was allowed to be transferred to Atago Shrine (current Yasaka Shrine Kumagaya) in 1592, the festival has been well-known as a great “Gion Festival” in Kanto Region. More than 750,000 people participate in the festival every year. Here is the official website: http://uchiwamatsuri.com/english/.
Dates: July 25th and 26th
Place: Shimbashi SL Plaza / Sakurada Park, Minato
Many festivals have religious origins and of cultural significance in traditional activities. But Shinbashi Koichi Festival has nothing to do with such cultural and religious aspects. The festival mainly attracts the after-work crowds and lure them out of their offices because Shimbashi is well-known as a heavily business-centric area adjacent to the Ginza area or newly-developed Shinagawa district. I would say that the festival has taken good advantage of its proximity to those “fashionable” places to gather thirsty adults dying for cold beers in the heat of summer. The festival consists of standard events: the steady beat of taiko drums, bon-odori dances, chochin lanterns, and yukata beauties. People of all ages as well as “sarariman” office workers can have a great time at this festival. For more details, please check on the official website: http://www.shinbashi.net/top/koichi/2019/.
Image courtesy of selmel
Dates: July 31st to August 4th
Place: 55 Hiroba at Shinjuku Mitsui Building, Shinjuku
Kecak is a Balinese traditional dance performance created around the 1930s. The Kecak dance is unique in style. It has no musical accompaniment besides the chanting of male dancers in a polyrhythmic choir. The Geinoh Yamashirogumi is a large music group that can perform Kecak, consisting of hundreds of people with various occupations. Their music style is based on the fusion of various traditional musical styles with modern instruments and synthesizers. Otomo Katsuhiro, a great Japanese anime producer, commissioned this exotic group to create the soundtrack of his 1988 animated film: Akira, And you can enjoy their fantastic stage performances in the cluster of Shinjuku’s skyscrapers in midsummer.
In addition to their main performances, there are workshops, photo opportunities and merchandising booths dealing in various goods. Please check the event website to keep updated (Japanese only): http://www.yamashirogumi.jp/event/cakfestival/.
Image courtesy of MGA73bot2
Dates: August 24th
Place: Streets around Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Taito
Nothing says samba like Rio in Brazil. But you don’t have to fly to the other side of the world to enjoy the world’s largest carnival attended by two million people from across the world. Asakusa Samba Carnival is not less gorgeous. Top teams gather from all over Japan and take part in a samba dance contest to compete for the top scores. The Asakusa Samba is said to be the largest in the northern hemisphere, attracting about 500,000 spectators every year. The parade contest consists of S1 teams and S2 teams, 20 groups in total. Some teams have 150-300 participants. Each team shows its own theme involving the costumes, performance, dancing and vibrancy. I believe this event is a perfect finale to summer in Japan. If you are interested, please check on the following website (Japanese only): http://www.asakusa-samba.org/.
Dates: August 24th and 25th
Place: Downtown Koenji (on the south side of Koenji Starion JR), Suginami
The 400-year-old Awa-odori Dance Festival takes place in the mid-August every year as a part of Obon Festival in Tokushima on Shikoku Island. Koenji, which is about 15-minute train ride on Chuo Line JR from Shinjuku, was the first area to adopt Tokushima’s traditional dance festival to revitalize the local economy, as was the case with Asakusa Samba Carnival. This dance festival started in 1956 and has become one of the major summer events in Tokyo.
Now it is the second largest Awa-odori Dance Festival in Japan. Averagely it features around 180 groups consisting of 12,000 people and attracts 1.2 million visitors. Dancers chant, “踊る阿呆に 見る阿呆 同じ阿呆なら 踊らにゃ損損 (Odoru-ahoni Miru-aho Onaji-aho-nara Odoranya-son-son)”, which translates to “The dancers are a fool. The viewers are a fool. If we are the same fools, why not join the dancing?” Feel the festive enthusiasm circulating around the streets. For more details, please check the following article: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/koenji-awa-odori-festival-cross-tokyo-dancing-hot-summer.
Image courtesy of kobakou
Dates: August 24th and 25th
Place: Azabu-juban Shopping District, Minato
Azabu-juban is an interesting area. Nestled between fashionable Roppongi and Tokyo Tower, it is a laid-back neighborhood with small traditional shops and restaurants, which retain an atmosphere of “shitamachi” downtown of the good old days. Azabu-juban “Noryo” Festival, which literally translates to the “Festival to enjoy a cool summer evening”, is a lively event that is far from “cool summer”. It is organized by shop owners in the local Azabu-juban Shopping District and famous for its abundance of food booths. There will be over 300 stalls in the district, attracting about 400,000 visitors. Note that you have to battle some serious crowds. Here is the official site to check on (Japanese only): http://www.azabujuban.or.jp/event/.
There has been an old summer custom called “uchimizu (打水), which is the Japanese term that describes “scattered water hitting the ground”. Splashing water on the road helps the air to cool down. Japan has been infamous for its brutal heat in summer for several years. To lower the heat, some areas in midtown Tokyo, Roppongi, Tokyo Midtown, and Hibiya, hold uchimizu events altogether in mid-summer. If you are interested, you can check on the website: http://uchimizu.jp/. If you would like a local guide to spend a day with you or take you to a festival and tell you even more about the events, please check the banner below.
Most of the travelers who come to Japan enter the country through Tokyo. Even if it is not the main place of your destination, it would be a great idea to stay in the capital city for a few days. The biggest conglomerate in the world has much to offer to any kind of traveler. Whether you want to go sightseeing, shopping, eating out, or trying something special that you can experience only in Japan, Tokyo has it all. In the following article, you will find 100 things and many ideas on how to spend your time in Tokyo! Please, have a look, URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/7726/
If you look at Tokyo from another angle, you will figure out that this is a city of festivals. Each part of the town has a local community with its traditions. And for Japanese people, it is essential to keep a sense of their community. Thus, you can see plenty of festivals almost every week in different parts of Tokyo. The following article will provide you with the best Tokyo festivals each month of the year!
A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!