Festivals and Events in Tokyo

Information on religious and national holidays, festivals and sports events in Tokyo…

Tokyo hosts many festivals throughout the year. Each religious shrine also celebrates its own festival in the warmer months from June to September. Most local festivals involve a procession in which the shrine's deity is carried through the town in a parade..

  • For further information about festivals in Tokyo: Click here

Main Festivals in Tokyo

Spring

Cherry Blossom Viewing (Hanami) is a spring rite and many people visit the cherry blossom trees in the parks and gardens around Tokyo. Some of the most popular spots are Ueno Park, Sumida Park and The Imperial Palace. The cherry trees blossom at the end of March and early April.

The Meiji Shrine Spring Festival is held for a month starting at the beginning of April. It includes many traditional, cultural events - musical performances, dances and horseback archery (yabusame).

At the end of March or early April the Tokyo International Anime Fair is held at the Tokyo Big Sight. It is a huge event for fans of manga comics and animation. The first two days of the fair are reserved for registered members of the animation industry, but the final two days (usually a weekend) are open to the public.

The Great Japan Beer Festival generally takes place on the first weekend in June and features more than 100 different beers from around the world. It takes place at the Ebisu Garden Hall in Tokyo.

The Kanda Matsuri festival is one of Tokyo's most famous festivals and is one of the biggest in Japan. It is one of three Shinto festivals, along with Sanja Matsuri and Sanno Matsuri, and features floats, portable shrines (mikoshi) and Shinto priests on horseback. It takes place on the Saturday and Sunday closest to 15 May on odd numbered years.

  • For further information from the Japan National Tourism Organisation: Click here

Summer

The Narita Gion Festival is a local festival held in July in Narita city and around Narita-san temple to celebrate the arrival of summer. It is dedicated to Dainichi Buddha (Dainichi-Nyorai) and features parades, dance performances, food stalls, snacks and games.

  • For further information from the Narita City website: Click here

The Samba Carnival usually takes place on the last Saturday in August in Asakusa, and visitors travel from around the world to participate. The festival is a Japanese version of the Rio carnival and features dancing, performances from samba groups and a Grand Parade. Other highlights include folk singing and shamisen performances.

  • Samba Carnival
    Tel: 03 3847 0038
    email

The Obon Festival, also known as the Festival of the Dead marks the beginning of the national holiday known as Obon Week. It is an important time for family gatherings when, according to Buddhist belief, spirits returns to earth. Floating lanterns are set free on rivers to send off the spirits of ancestors. Obon dances are performed, offerings are made to butsudan (Buddhist altars) and ancestral graves are visited. In most regions of Japan, Obon is celebrated around the 15 August.

Autumn

The Tokyo Game Show, held mid-September is a four-day event dedicated to video games and attracts thousands of visitors on the final two days when it is open to the public. In additional to a general video game area, there is an area dedicated to children's and educational games.

The Tokyo International Film Festival is held in the last week of October and features screenings of new Japanese and Asian films, and hands out awards in a variety of categories.

Winter

The Emperor's birthday on 23 December marks one of the two days in the year when the Imperial Palace opens its doors to the public and the Emperor and Empress make an appearance. Ippan Sanga or New Year Greeting takes place on 2 January and is the only other day when the Imperial Palace is open to the public.

On New Year’s Eve many Japanese visit their temple and pray for good fortune in the coming year. At midnight in all the temples bells ring 108 times. This represent the 108 temptations on earth, which must be overcome in order to achieve nirvana.

New Year's Day (Oshogatsu) is Japan's most important religious festival and is a time for families to get together, and for praying at temples for the upcoming year.

The Coming of Age Festival (Seijin-no-hi) is a national holiday celebrating the passage of youth to adulthood. It is celebrated by those who are turning 20 years of age in the coming year, the age at which they are officially recognised as adults. The event takes place on the second Monday in January.

Sports Events

Some of the main sports events in Tokyo are the Grand Sumo Wrestling Tournaments, held three times a year in Tokyo. Each tournament lasts approximately two weeks. The tournaments are generally held in January, May and September.

  • Nihon Sumo Kyokai
    At
    : Ryogoku Kokugikan, 1-3-28 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0015
    Tel: 03 3623 5111

The Tokyo Marathon is an annual event attracting runners from around the globe. It usually takes place at the end of February.