Festivals and holiday calendar in Japan

festivals in japan


Ganjitsu (or Gantan) Jan 1.

All over the country, people attend important shrines to honor gods on the first visit to the shrine during the season (a tradition referred to as Hatsumode). Public holiday.

Seijin-no-hi (Adults’ Day) Second Mon in Jan.

Twenty-year-olds commemorate their entry into adulthood by attending the local temple. A lot of women dress in luxurious Kimono. Public holiday.

Yama-yaki Fourth Sat of Jan.

The Wakakusayama slopes, Nara, are set in flames during a fire-burning ceremony for grass.


Setsubun Feb 3 or 4.

On the day that marks the end of winter, according to the calendar of the lunar year, individuals sprinkle lucky beans all over their homes and in temples or shrines to drive out the evil spirits and welcome the year’s prosperity. In Nara, this event is celebrated by a large lantern festival on February 3.

Yuki Matsuri Early to mid-Feb.

The world-famous snow festival of Sapporo is a spectacle of enormous snow sculptures.


Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) March 3.

Families with children display gorgeous dolls (Hina Ningyo) representing the emperor, the empress, and courtiers in traditional dress. Hotels, department stores, and museums frequently display unique displays at this time of year.

Cherry-blossom festivals Late March to early May.

As spring arrives in the latter part of March, there is a pink tide that cherry blossoms flows north from Kyushu, travels to Honshu in April, and ends in Hokkaido in early May. There are festivals celebrating the cherry blossoms, and sake is served at bloom-viewing (hanami) events.


Hana Matsuri April 8.

The Buddha’s birthday celebrations are held in every temple with parades or more peaceful celebrations. A tiny Buddha statue is sprinkled with sweet tea.

Takayama Matsuri April 14–15.

Parade of elaborate floating floats (yatai) with some with mechanical marionettes.

Kamakura Matsuri Mid-April.

Kamakura’s long-running festival features traditional dances, costume parades , and archery on horseback.


Kodomo-no-hi (Children’s Day) May 5.

The first Boys’ Day today is inclusive of all children as families display carp banners, which symbolize the strength and endurance, outside their home.  public holiday.

Aoi Matsuri (Hollyhock Festival) May 15.

Costume parades through Kyoto’s streets and includes ceremonies to prevent earthquakes and storms.

Kanda Matsuri Mid-May.

The top three Tokyo matsuri, which takes place during odd-numbered year in Kanda Myojin, during which people dressed in Heian period costumes escort eighty mikoshi in gilded silver streets.

Tōshō-gū Grand Matsuri May 18.

Nikko’s largest festival, which includes a parade of over a thousand costumed spectators and horseback archery to commemorate Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu’s funeral ceremony in 1617, It will be a smaller version on the 17th of October.

Sanja Matsuri Third weekend in May.

Tokyo’s biggest and most boisterous festival is held in Asakusa. More than a hundred mikoshi have paraded through the streets with lion dancers accompanying them Geisha, musicians, and geisha.


Sannō Matsuri Mid-June.

In even-numbered years the last of Tokyo’s big three matsuri (after Kanda and Sanja) takes place, focusing on colourful processions of mikoshi through Akasaka.


Gion Yamagasa July 1–15.

Fukuoka’s main festival is capped off with five-kilometer race with participants pulling or carrying massive mikoshi while spectators splash them in water.

Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival) July 7.

Legend has it that it is the only day of the year when soul lovers of the astral world, Vega and Altair, are able to meet over the Milky Way. Poems and prayers are placed on bamboo poles in front of homes.

Gion Matsuri July 17.

Kyoto’s month-long festival which runs for a month, is focused on a parade of massive floating floats that are adorned with silks and lanterns made of paper.

Hanabi Taikai Last Sat in July.

The most impressive of Japan’s summer firework display is held in Tokyo in the Sumida River near Asakusa. Some cities also host shows in the early part of August.


Nebuta and Neputa Matsuri Aug 1–7.

Aomori and Hirosaki have summer festivals that are competing which feature parades of lighted paper-covered characters.

Tanabata Matsuri Aug 6–8.

The famous Star Festival is held a month before the other festivals which means that the fans get another chance.

Obon (Festival of Souls) Aug 13–15, or July 13–15 in some areas.

Families gather around ancestral graves to welcome spirits of the deceased and pay tribute to their memory with specially crafted Bon-Odori celebrations at the end of the night.

Awa Odori Aug 12–15.

The most well-known Bonodori occurs in Tokushima where up to 80.000 dancers dance on the streets.


Yabusame Sept 16.

This festival, with stunning performances of archery on horseback (yabusame) by horses dressed in armor samurai, is held at the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura.


Kunchi Matsuri Oct 7–9.

Shinto rituals mix with Chinese European-inspired events to create Nagasaki’s most prestigious celebrationthat includes dragon dances, floats and dragons in the form that resemble Chinese as well as Dutch ships.

Kawagoe Grand Matsuri Third Sat & Sun in Oct.

One of the biggest and most exciting events in the Tokyo region, with 25 elaborate floats and hundreds of revelers dressed in costumes.

Jidai Matsuri Oct 22.

Kyoto’s famous, if rather sedate, costume parade vies with the more exciting Kurama-no-Himatsuri, a night-time fire festival which takes place in a village near Kyoto.


Shichi-go-san Nov 15.

Children between the ages of 3 and 7 wear traditional attire to visit the local shrine.


Ōmisoka Dec 31.

Just before midnight on the final day of the year temple bells ring the number 108 (the number of human weaknesses in accordance with Buddhist thought).

JC. Princen

“Success is best when it's shared.”

Recommended Articles