Summer in Japan is steaming hot with fun and excitement. The summer months are filled with festivals (matsuri) and it’s not difficult to get caught up in the revelry. Cities and towns all across the country have some form of summer festival to look forward to. The streets come alive with extravagant floats, fireworks, food stalls, and music. There’s never a dull moment in a Japanese summer!
Jidai Matsuri. | KCP Flickr
Some of the highlights of the Japanese summer include:
Gion Matsuri, Kyoto
Gion Matsuri is the most popular summer festival. The festival is held at Yakasa-Jinja Shrine in Kyoto for most of the month of July. Festivities called Yoiyama are held in the evenings July 14–16, right before the main event on the 17th, when a spectacular procession of floats wind through the streets amid countless revelers.
Throughout the month-long celebration, around 30 events occur, including the Kencha Matsuri (tea ceremony festival) and the Hagasa Junko (flower umbrella procession), when umbrella floats and dancers parade in the streets. During the main festivities of Gion Matsuri, the streets are closed in the evenings and clusters of stalls appear to sell food, drinks, and various memorabilia.
Sendai Tanabata Matsuri, Tōhoku Region
Tanabata, or Evening of the Seventh, is also known as the Star Festival. It originated from the Chinese Qixi Festival. It is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year depending on either the solar or lunar calendar and the area in Japan.
Street food. | KCP Flickr
It commemorates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi who, according to legend, were lovers separated by the Milky Way and were allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar.
Awa Dance Festival , Tokushima
The Awa Dance Festival (or Awa Odori), the largest dance festival in Japan, is celebrated August 12–15 in Tokushima, Tokushima Prefecture. Awa is the old feudal administration name for Tokushima Prefecture, and odori means dance. The festival attracts over a million tourists every year with its carefully choreographed dancers and musicians known as ren.
Traditional masks. | KCP Flickr
Participants adorn bon odori costumes and dance through the streets along with traditional taiko drums, shamisen lute, kane bell, and shinobue flute.
With summer in Japan bringing in the heat and excitement, there are a number of places that visitors can go to when in Japan. Don’t miss out on some of the spots to enjoy in the Tokyo region to relax and cool off away from the crowds.
Japan Context, Japanese Culture