Japanese Festivals 🍡 ⛩ 🎏 🌸 🎆

There’s a ton of festivals in Japan. Both small scale stuff at the local shrine with food stalls etc. and big festivities drawing huge numbers of people from all around Japan to the proceedings.

This thread is about it all: music festivals, food fests, annual Japanese festivals, local shine matsuri, etc. anything when people get together in Japan to celebrate or have fun! ^>^

  • If you’ve been to any Japanese festivals: what did you think about them? (please post pics if you want to share!)

  • Even if you haven’t been to a Japanese festival, what kinds of events or activities do find you find interesting? (share stuff from the internet, pics, videos etc.)

Hyuga Hyottoko Festival

(This post is now a Wiki so anyone can add links to resources about festivals, events or activities in Japan).


I went to Japan in early May 2017 on a small group tour that hopped from Tokyo (Asakusa) to Matsumoto, Takayama, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Hakone/Ashinoko, and back to Tokyo (Shibuya).

Our stay in Takayama happened to coincide with the Spring Harvest Festival. There was a parade both during the day and in the evening. Before the day parade, the floats were concentrated within a square and the audience was standing shoulder to shoulder to watch a marionette show. It was pretty uncomfortable not being able to move for so long and being under the hot sun, but it was a unique experience.



Such lovely, lovely pictures. It’s like you can imagine yourself actually being there and taste those sweet candid apples! (I’m guessing that’s what they are?) :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: Thank you so much for sharing! ^>^

I guess, this is something one really has to give a try if the opportunity arise! <3


Candied strawberries!


Even better!!! :drooling_face:


I still haven’t been to Japan, so I can’t post images of stuff I’ve visited myself.

But, I do from time to time dream myself away to some of the more food oriented festivities in Japan shown on YT where Japanese people set up street food stalls. :yum:

(I guess, this is not like @Glias 's bigger festival, but more of a “small-scale” thing that the locals get to enjoy while it lasts. The market is located in Odori Park according to the video description, and allegedly there were “Hundreds of street food stands at this food festival” (so, not so small after all ^^ ).

Sapporo Autumn Fest


During my first visit way back in 2010, Nara’s Basara Matsuri was taking place the day that we happened to visit, so that was quite fortuitous. Blog post. (No photos, because I hadn’t learnt the trick of quickly inserting photos back then, and I haven’t gotten around to going back and putting them in. Think there might be a link to my digital scrapbook album in the blog somewhere, though.)

In April 2018, I was able to attend both the Shinko-sai at Fushimi Inari Taisha and the Omi Matsuri at Omi Jinja on the same day. Blog post.

When I went last October, I discovered by pure chance that the Chichibu Ryusei Matsuri (popularised by Anohana) would be ocurring the first weekend I was there, the Kawagoe Matsuri during the second weekend, and various Tokyo Halloween events during the third weekend. So I went to them all. I was even invited to pull a float at the Kawagoe Matsuri, which was real nice. Toshogu’s Autumn Festival was also taking place over the two days I visited Nikko (which, since I deliberately timed my visit to coincide with peak autumn leaf time, was probably not a coincidence), but I decided I’d rather stick with my plans to expore Oku-Nikko rather than stand in a crowd at the festival, though I did get to watch the mounted archery that took place on the first day of the festival. Blog posts: Chichibu, Nikko, Kawagoe, Halloween I (Ikebukuro and Shibuya), Halloween II (Kawasaki)

(There was some kind of dance festival somewhere in Saitama during the first weekend too, but I decided it’d be better to leave that for another trip.)

Even with all that, though… I still kinda want to visit some little neighbourhood shrine’s natsu matsuri sometime…


アース・セレブレーション on 佐渡島 さどしま / さどがしま will still be held this year, despite the 新型コロナウイルス. Dates: 8/21(金)、22(土)、23(日)For me it easily beats the 札幌雪まつり, 秋田竿燈まつり あきたかんとう, 渋谷ハロウィン, carrying a 神輿 みこし, being a なまはげ in 秋田 & many more small festivals I’ve participated in or watched. 3 nights of performances under the stars by the 太鼓たいこ group Kodo. Sado is a rugged, beautiful island worth visiting, especially during EC (アースセレブレーション). I’ve been to EC 3 times & bicycled around the island. So many great memories. On one Sunday night, Kodo gave 3 encores. By the 3rd, the whole audience was on their feet, dancing. A little boy was next to me; I put him on my shoulders to make sure he could see. That moment is still the highest high of my life.

Fortunately this year they’ll be airing some content for free - concerts, workshops & more - https://earthcelebration.jp/en/event_info/
If you can’t visit EC or Japan this summer, definitely check out the above link.

on the 北西 side of Sado.

The drummer is one of the founders of Kodo. 60 ~ 70 years old, yet still very fit, played the taiko with power. I was standing very close, drinking a beer brewed on the island, admiring their skills, absorbing the moment.

On Monday morning there is a ferry from Sado island back to the mainland. Passengers are given a roll of paper / streamers. Musicians are on the dock, seeing the ship off. Like a movie scene. Another magical moment on Sado.


Big children’s day fishies in the inaka. Hopefully there will be real festivals again sometime where I can take photos on my camera.


There are some pretty unique Japanese children’s festivals that I’ve read about. I thought I’d post about them here, but this is where I’ve got it from, mostly. :slight_smile:

Source: 5 Uniquely Japanese Events In A Child’s First Year - Savvy Tokyo

Two are a bit more public and you might have heard about them already. Hinamatsuri and Kodomo no Hi.

Hinamatsuri is a celebration of young girls and it’s a special occasion the first Hinamatsuri one’s daughter gets to celebrate. Then it’s known as Hatsuzekku (first festival) and the daughter is presented with a hina-doll symbolizing the parents desire for her to grow up healthy and happy. The hina dolls are arranged on a type of staircase, or in magnificent public displays like this one.

こどもの日 or Children’s day is celebrated on May 5 and finishes off Golden Week, when people watch the cherry blossoms and eat and celebrate outdoors. People put up kites in the shape of koi or carp. It’s a day to celebrate your kids and wish for their happiness.

More private in scope is Okuizome (お食い初め) or First Meal, which is celebrated as your kid reaches 3 months of age.

A feast is prepare and while the kid is prompted to give real food a try, parents get to enjoy the spoils and hope for their child to grow up healthy. Use of umeboshi (pickled plum) in the dishes, is used to symbolize growing up to an old, wrinkly, age.

Erabitori or Choose & Take takes place on your child’s first birthday. Parents put a variety of object for the baby to choose from and depending of the choice, it would give an indication of what life has in store for the child.

There are also special cards one can buy, that the child can also choose from for the prediction.

Another first birthday tradition is Isshou Mochi (一升餅) or First Birthday Rice Cake. This huge mochi is put on the back of the child for them to carry.

Again, this is about symbolism, and about the parents hopes for their child to go through life in good health, having food to eat and acquire peace and harmony in their life.

Now that’s a BIG mochi! :eyes:

I think these are all neat festivals. Not everything is big and flashy, but celebrating one’s children in various ways is lovely I think. Not everything has to be about birthday presents and cake - as nice as those things also are. ^>^


Please do! ^>^ I’d love to see more of your life in Japan! :blush:


Which one would it need to choose to show that it’s the Avatar?


I guess, you can always load the picture deck beforehand! :wink:


Looks like you might really enjoy this one @ekg


I just found this website that lists a lot of festivals although it doesn’t always have a lot of info. It seems like a good starting point for more research :slight_smile:


You know me so well! :wink: Well, as long as I don’t have to be half-naked as well. :joy:

I do find it interesting that you can both have this culture of propriety in Japan, but there’s also stuff like the 裸祭り or for that matter the Kanamara Matsuri :rofl: where they celebrate male virility and and carry shrines with giant ds on them. ^^;


Thank you Japan as always for the good laughs! :joy:


Thanks for this link. I think I’ll try to rewrite that intro post to make it into a wiki like we talked about. So we could get more stuff like this on that first page! ^>^

@CDR-Strawberry So the #1 post is a wiki now…but, what to do about the title. It feels a bit narrow in scope? :thinking: Should I change it…but to what??


We had originally planned our Kyoto trip earlier this year to include the last weeks of January and the first week of February. Partly so that we could go to 節分 (せつぶん) in Kyoto and throw the magic beans at demons to scare winter away …


Dang! :eyes: Those nipples though! :joy: That’s realism for you: demons also have nipples and don’t you forget it! :rofl:

Setsubun also makes me think of Shirokuma Cafe when they debate about who’s gonna be the demon, with some funny results. ^^


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You may or may not enjoy the movie Wood Job. It features a festival based off of this one, although it’s just one event in the movie.