Japan festivals you should know before travelling

People travel on vacation majorly to have some fun time, enjoying the sights and unique tourist attractions in those countries, as well as experiencing the culture of the people. One of the countries with a strong culture and a lot of festivals is Japan. Hence, if you want to enjoy the best of culture when you travel to Japan, it is important to know their major festivals, where the festivals take place and when they do. Armed with this information, it will be easier to plan your vacation around festivals of interest to you so that you can be in the country when the festival is held and have the opportunity to participate in the festival.

There are several festivals in Japan, such that several festivals are carried out throughout the year. Some of the top festivals in Japan you might be interested in are discussed subsequently. For each of the festivals, it will be important to confirm the exact date for that year when you start planning your trip so that you can be sure that it is holding and that the date has not been drawn back or shifted forward.


Hinamatsuri is a festival whose history can be traced to more than 1,000 years ago around 794 – 1192, which was the Heian period. The purpose of the festival, which is also known as the Doll Festival, is for parents and other people to pray for the happiness and health of young girls. The festival is carried out on the 3rd of March of the year. During the festival, a carpet made from red material is used to display ornamental dolls that represent musicians, attendants, empress, and emperors. The day it is celebrated is often referred to as Girl’s Day or Doll’s day. Few airlines such as TravelPack have the resources to travel to Japan and it is important to be sure you are travelling with the right one.

Takayama Matsuri

The Takayama Festival is another Japanese festival that is worth seeing. The festival takes place in Japan Alps, a historic and lovely town, located in Takayama city. The festival is reputed to be among the 3 most beautiful Japanese festivals. The special nature of the festival results in its being celebrated twice annually. In both cases, a different shrine is used for the celebration, which is sort of unusual. It is celebrated at Hachiman Shrine during the autumn and at Hie Shrine during the spring. During the spring celebration around mid-April, prayers are made to achieve a good harvest. The autumn celebration is held in October. It ranks in the top 3 among the most beautiful Japanese festivals.

Awa Odori Festival

The festival is a vibrant and colourful dance festival that is held in Japan. There is an Obon celebration held throughout March in Japan where it is said those spirits of people who are no longer living visit the earth temporarily. There is also a Bon Odori dance celebration carried out in different temples. Awa Odori is a Bon Odori dance speciality that was started in Tokushima, which is located on Shikoku Island.

Tanabata Matsuri

The Tanabata, also known as the Star Festival, is held on 7th July of every year. The celebration signals the start of Summer in the country. The origin of the festival is a legend in Japan that began in China, which talked of two lovers that the milky way separated with each lover on a different side. They only get to see one another once yearly, which is on the 7th of July. There are, however, some other parts of Japan where the celebration is done on the 6th and 8th of August using the old Chinese calendar.

Nebuta Matsuri

The Nebuta Festival is a dynamic and spectacular Japanese festival. The giant floats that represent brave and ancient warriors are popular across the world. Most people remember this festival first any time they think of Japanese festivals. The giant floats, christened Nebuta, are accompanied by Haneto (hundreds of dancers) who follow the flutes and Taiko drums rhythm. The festival is held in early August.

Tenjin Matsuri

This festival is carried out in Osaka, a city popularly reputed as Japan’s second capital. The festival has a history of over a thousand years and is also one of the greatest festivals in Japan, ranking in the top 3. The festival is celebrated in the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, which is located in the middle of the city. The festival features dance, musical performance and land procession across the city. The people from the city have a reputation for being friendly and fun. The festival is held on the 24th and 25th of July. To see these festivities, you can read on How to book group excursions and see local Japan festivities.

Gion Matsuri

This is another festival in Japan that is among the most popular even outside of Japan. It is one of the oldest Japanese festivals as it started in the year 869. For more than 1,000 years, the festival was held in Yasaka shrine. The festival goes on all through July from the 1st to the 31st of the month, also making it to be among the longest Japanese festivals. A great procession of floats, known as Yamaboko Junko, is one of the most popular highlights of the festival. The floats procession occurs on the 17th and 25th of July on Shijo Kawaramachi and Pike streets.

Sanja Matsuri

The Sanja festivals are one of 3 great Shinto festivals that takes place in Tokyo. It is an annual festival that goes on for 3 days, usually the third weekend in May. The festival takes place in the Asakusa shrine with some people regarding it as being among the wildest and biggest Tokyo festivals. The festival is reputed to always record more than 2 million visitors. The festival is organized to honour Hajino Nakatomo, Hinokuma Takenari, and Hinokuma Hamanari, who were the 3 founders of the Senso-Ji temple. The Buddhist temple is in Asakusa and is reputed to be Tokyo’s oldest temple dating back to the year 645.

Kanda Matsuri

Kanda Maturi is another festival that is held in Tokyo. This is considering Tokyo has been Japan’s capital for many years and features some of Japan’s most important shrines and temples. Hence, it is only normal that many of the best festivals in Japan also hold in the city. The festival is one of the 3 biggest festivals in Tokyo and features 300 people parading and carrying 100 portable shrines known as Mikoshi. The festival features priests on horseback, dancers and musicians.

Yuki Matsuri

The Yuki Matsuri shrine is held in Hokkaido, an area that is in Japan’s northernmost part and that witnesses a lot of snow during the winter. The snows are used to build sculptures that started with six built by local students in the high school in 1950. Today, the festival has grown to become one of the biggest ice and snow festivals in the world. It also features an international contest of snow sculptures and attracts more than 2 million visitors annually. It is held in early February.

Nagasaki Lantern Festival

Reputed to be one of the biggest lantern festivals in Japan, the festival is held in the Nagasaki City yearly and features more than 15,000 colourful lights and lanterns that are used to adorn the whole city for 15 days. The festival takes place between the ending of January and early February and is also reputed to be one of Japan’s longest festivals.