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Festivals in Tokyo

Post: Monday January 27, 2014

Even though it is one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the whole world, Tokyo still retains a number of unique festivals that are celebrated throughout the year. They range from traditional religious festivals to modern anime conventions and fireworks displays. Below, we have gathered a selection of some of the most well-known/popular festivals for you to take advantage of.





Historic Festivals




· O-zumo Hatsu Basho – This is more an event than a festival but the first grand Sumo tournament of the year is held in Tokyo at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Hall in Sumida ward from January 13th-27th. Sumo wrestling is the traditional sport of Japan and this is the first opportunity of the year to see the Sumo wrestlers in action.


· Kanda Matsuri – This festival is held on the Saturday and Sunday closest to May 15th in odd-numbered years and commemorates the victory of Tokugawa Ieyasu at the battle of Sekigahara in the early 17th century and the ongoing prosperity of the Tokugawa shogunate thereafter. It is held mainly at the Kanda Shrine and features a parade with over 200 mikoshi (portable shrines) in addition to other floats, dancers, and musicians.


· Sanno Matsuri – This festival is held from June 6th-17th on even-numbered years (opposite the Kanda Matsuri) and started as an opportunity for people to enter the grounds of Edo Castle in central Tokyo that started during the 17th century under the Tokugawa Shogunate. The main event of the festival is a line of approximately 300 people in ancient costumes called a jinkosai that parade through Tokyo, passing by Tokyo Station, Ginza, The Diet Building, starting and ending at the Hie Shrine.


· Fukugawa Hachiman Matsuri – This festival is held annually in mid-August at the Tomioka Hachiman Shrine in Koto Ward. This festival, like the Kanda and Sanno Matsuris started in the 17th century and together they are the three biggest Shinto festivals celebrated in Tokyo. This festival features a number of mikoshi carried through the streets of Koto Ward and the crowds throw water on the parade participants carrying the portable shrines, a quite delightful activity in the blazing heat of late summer in Tokyo.




Modern Cultural Festivals


Dezome-shiki – This festival is a New Year's festival put on by the Tokyo Fire Department. Be prepared to see acrobats dressed as firefighters from the 17th-19th century performing all sorts of stunts on ladders to encourage fire safety. You can also see fire engines, helicopters and even demonstrations of large-scale fire drills. It is held on January 6th at Tokyo Big Sight in Koto ward.


Asakusa Samba Festival – This festival was established in 1981 and is celebrated annually at the end of August in Asakusa. This event features a parade of samba dancers celebrating the Brazilian dance with dance teams from Brazil. The event attracts around a half-million visitors each year.


     Asakusa Samba 03


· Harajuku Ometasando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi – This is a big, two-day dance festival celebrated in Yoyogi Park near Harajuku at the end of August. It features the Yosakoi dance style, which is a fusion of the traditional Awa summer dance combined with modern music and large groups performing choreographed movements. Close to one hundred teams compete in festival with around 800,000 people gathering to watch and even partake in the dancing themselves!


     Yosakoi performers



Festival Calendar


There are numerous festivals in Tokyo and the ones listed above are just a sampling of popular ones. Below is a more comprehensive list of festivals in and around Tokyo. You should be able to find additional details on them by searching the Internet.










 Kokyo Ippan Sanga

This is a New Years' visit to the Imperial palace. The Imperial palace is accessible via the Nijubashi Bridge and the Imperial Family makes appearances to wave to the crowds.

 January 2

Imperial Palace, Chiyoda


Fireman's Parade

 January 6

Tokyo Big Sight in Ariake


The “bean throwing” festival to ward off demons is celebrated all over Japan.

 February 3rd


 Takigi Noh

Open-air torchlight Noh performance

 Spring (between March and May)

Minato (Zōjō-ji)

 Kurayami Matsuri

Black night festival featuring mikoshi being carried into the darkness and also a large number of gardeners showing off their talents.

 Spring (between March and May)

Fuchu (Okunitama Shrine)

 Osunafumi Taisai

Walking-on-sand ritual

 Spring (between March and May)

Setagaya (Tamagawa Daishi Temple)

 Yayoi Matsuri

Ceremony by the Edo Shobo Kinen-kai (Edo Civilian Fire Fighters' Association)

 Spring (between March and May)


 Bunkyo Tsutsuji Matsuri

Azalea festival

 April to May

Bunkyō (Nezu Shrine)

 Fuji Matsuri

Wisteria festival

 April to May

Kōtō (Kameido Tenjin Shrine)

 Meiji Shrine Spring Festival

A festival celebrating spring at Meiji Shriine and featuring various traditional Japanese performing arts.

 April 29 – May 3

Shibuya (Meiji Shrine)

 Kachiya Festival

This festival commemorates Fujiwara Hidesato's prayer for victory before suppressing Taira no Masakado's revolt. The festival dates to Hidesato's offering of his bow and arrow to the shrine after his victory in battle. During the modern festival, there is a dedication of akachiya (victory arrow) and a traditional warrior parade.

 May 5th

Kōtō (Katori Shrine)

 Hinode Matsuri

Sunrise festival

 May 8th

Ōme (Mitake Shrine)

 Sanja Matsuri

A festival honoring the three men that found a statue of Kannon which led to the founding of Sensō-ji in the Asakusa district. Its notable for its extravagant parade of mikoshi, musicians and dancers.

 Third weekend in May


 Torikoe Matsuri

A big shrine festival held in June where the supposedly heaviest mikoshi are on display.

 June 9th



The star festival where people write their wishes on paper attached to decorative bamboo.

 July 6-7


 Tokyo Bay Fireworks

The Tokyo Bay fireworks festival is the premier fireworks even of the Tokyo summer.


Anywhere close to Tokyo Bay

 Jingu Fireworks

The Jingu Gaien fireworks display is one of the biggest summer fireworks festivals in the Tokyo area.



 Tokyo Jazz Festival

Just what it sounds like, Jazz in Tokyo. Enjoy!




This is a Buddhist festival celebrating the death of the Buddhist saint Nichiren.

 October 11–13

Ikegami Honmonji

 Tokyo Jidai Matsuri

This festival celebrates the history of Tokyo and was first held in 1999.

 November 3rd



Perhaps the biggest anime and manga festival in all of Japan happens at Tokyo Big Sight. A popular place to do some otaku-watching.

 December 29-31

Tokyo Big Sight in Ariake



Other resources


If you need more details or additional suggestions, please check out Go Tokyo's searchable list of all events (including festivals) occurring in Tokyo.






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