Festivals in Tokyo, Japan

  • Sanja Matsuri Tokyo’s Biggest and Wildest Festival

    • 15 May 2014

    Sanja Matsuri is one of Tokyo’s biggest summer festivals. It also has a reputation for being a little on the wild side. The festival runs three days and attracts 2 million visitors. The festival is in honor of the three men who founded Senso-ji (Tokyo’s oldest and most visited temple). As the story goes ... two fisherman (brothers) caught a Buddha statue in the river. It inspired them to create the temple. A third man was also inspired by the Buddha. Luckily he was rich enough to fund the project.

    The temple was first constructed in 628. It was largely destroyed by the fire bombing of Tokyo in WWII. It’s reconstruction was a symbol of national recovery. According to the Asahi Shinbun Newspaper, some of the mikoshi in the festival are controlled by yakuza groups. These mikoshi weigh approximately one ton and costs around $500,000 US dollars (40 million yen). There are around 100 mikoshi in the festival parade. Several highly rated Geisha performances are scheduled throughout the festival. Tickets are required. Geisha can often be seen participating in the festivities (Geisha are a rare sight in Tokyo).

    Address 2-3-1 Asakusa Taito-ku, Asakusa Jinja Shrine

    Contact information

    Website:http://www.asakusajinja.jp/english/

    Schedule: Mid-May 2014

  • Hotaru Festival: A Light Spectacular in Tokyo

    • 24 May 2014–31 May 2014

    For the spring 2012 addition of the festival, Panasonic offered to spice things up by adding 100,000 lights to the Sumida River in Tokyo. The lights represent the fireflies that were once found along the river. The festival has its roots in Edo-era traditions of catching fireflies by the Sumida in spring. The lights are powered by solar and were collected in a large net before reaching the sea. They were specially designed by Panasonic for the festival.

    Address Taito-ku Sumidagawa Terrace between Sakura-bashi and Azuma-bashi bridges

    Contact information

    Name:Tokyo Hotaru Guidance Office, 10:00–18:00 (closed weekends and holidays)

    Telephone number:03-6825-7913

    Website:http://tokyo-hotaru.jp/

    Schedule: Late May 2014

    Access By train:Approximately 1-minute walk from the Main Exit of Asakusa Station on the Tobu Isesaki Line

    Approximately 1-minute walk from the #5 Exit of Asakusa Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line

    Approximately 3-minute walk from Exit A5 of Asakusa Station on the Toei Asakusa Line

    Approximately 5-minute walk from Exit A3 of Honjo-azumabashi Station Station on the Toei Asakusa Line

    Approximately 15-minute walk from Oshiage Station on the Keisei Oshiage Line, Tobu Isesaki Line, Toei Asakusa Line, or Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line

  • Sanno Festival

    • 1 Jun 2014–15 Jun 2014

    The Sanno Festival is held annually around June 15th (check the Japan event schedule). The large scale version of the festival (that includes the parade) only happens in even years. The Sanno Festival is a quiet, dignified affair with loads of history behind it. Many of Tokyo’s other big spring festivals can be a little on the wild side. The Sanno Festival is recommended for children and those who prefer a relaxed atmosphere. If you attend the festival it’s recommended to do so at Hie Shrine at the start or end of the parade (7:30 am and 5 pm). The Imperial Palace is another good spot to see the parade (sometime between 11:30 and 12:30 according to the schedule).

    Hie Shrine schedules a number of small events the week of the festival. Food vendors sell festival foods on the grounds of the shrine. There’s dancing and a ceremonial ring that you can walk through (a purification ritual). Sanno Festival is ranked #5 of 10 best spring festivals in Tokyo. Sanno Festival is ranked #28 of 100 best festivals in Japan

    Address: 2-10-5 Nagata-cho Chiyoda-ku

    Postal code:100-0014

    Schedule: Early June 2014 - Mid-June 2014

    Access By train:5-minute walk from Exit 5 of Kokkai-gijido-mae Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, 3-minute walk from Exit 7 of Tameike-Sanno Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line or Namboku Line

  • Fukagawa Hachiman: Tokyo’s Massive Summer Water Fight Festival

    • 11 Aug 2014–15 Aug 2014

    Each year, 54 mikoshi teams together with dancers and musicians parade the streets of Koto-ku. In total, 30,000 people participate in the parade. A crowd of 500,000 cheers them on (and throws water at them). It’s thought that the gods (in the mikoshi) enjoy a good summer soaking.

    The water soaking also has a practical purpose. Mikoshi weight thousands of kilograms and Tokyo summers are often incredibly hot and humid. The mikoshi teams are refreshed by the constant onslaught of cool water. The Fukagawa Hachiman Festival is held the 3rd weekend in August at Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine in Fukagawa. Every third year the festival is supersized (including 2014, 2017, 2020 …). The supersized version of the festival (Hon-matsuri) is 5 days long. The festival runs rain or shine.

    Address :1-20-3 Tomioka Koto-ku At and around Tomioka Hachiman-gu Shrine

    Contact information

    Telephone number:03-3642-1315

    Website:http://www.tomiokahachimangu.or.jp/

    Schedule: 2014.8.11 - 2014.8.15

    Access By train:3 minutes by foot from Monzen-nakacho Station on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line

  • Asakusa Samba Carnival

    • 24 Aug 2014–31 Aug 2014

    The Asakusa Samba Carnival is one of Tokyo’s more lively and popular summer festivals. It attracts 500,000 visitors each year. The festival has been held each year at the end of August since 1981. The one exception being 2011 when the festival was canceled due to the impact of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. The largest samba carnival in Japan is a perfect finale to summer in Asakusa. The event attracts authentic samba dance teams from across Japan.

    The highlight of the carnival is the colorful, gorgeous costumes—along with the beautiful dancers who wear them. Each team has a unique theme, which is expressed through the design of the dancers’ costumes and the team’s float. These teams compete in the content of their dance. The lead dancer is called the Rainha de Bateria (Queen of the Drums) and can be identified by her sash. And the pair of dancers bearing the team flag always wear even more elaborate costumes than the rest. Be sure to arrive early and reserve a spot, so you can enjoy the dynamic dance up close.

    Address : Asakusa, Taito-ku, Umamichi-dori Street and Kaminarimon-dori Street

    Contact information

    Name :Asakusa Samba Carnival Executive Committee

    Telephone number :03-3847-0038

    Website:http://www.asakusa-samba.org/( External link )

    Schedule: Late August 2014

    Start/end time:13:00–18:00

    Access By train:Short walk from Tokyo Metro Tawaramachi Station / Asakusa Station, Toei Asakusa Line Asakusa Station, Tobu Line Asakusa Station

  • Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi

    • 24 Aug 2014–31 Aug 2014

    It would be tough to think of a better name for a summer festival — the Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi is Tokyo’s largest yosakoi dance festival. Japan has a fun loving culture — if you need any proof go to a yosakoi festival. The Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi (end of August*) is a two day festival. It takes place at the peak of Tokyo’s hot and humid summer at multiple locations in Harajuku and Omotesando. Often temperatures are over 30o celsius (86o ferinheight) the days of the matsuri. Despite the heat, celebrants are genki and full of smiles. The Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi is ranked #3 of 10 best summer festivals in Tokyo. The Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi is ranked #13 of 100 best festivals in Japan

    Address: Around Harajuku Omotesando and Yoyogi Shibuya-ku

    Contact information

    Name :Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi Office

    Telephone number 03-5766-1320

    Fax number:03-3406-7220

    Website:http://www.yosakoi-harajuku.com/

    Schedule : Late August 2014

    Access By train:1-min. walk from JR Yamanote Line Harajuku Station Omotesando Exit 1-min. walk from Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line / Fukutoshin Line Meiji-jingumae ‘Harajuku’ Station

  • Koenji Awa Odori: Tokyo’s Biggest Traditional Dance Festival

    • 24 Aug 2014–31 Aug 2014

    Koenji is a trendy Tokyo neighborhood known as the birthplace of Japanese punk music. It’s an old residential area known for its hipsters, small concert halls, pleasant cafes and restaurants. Every summer Koenji is home to Tokyo’s largest Awa traditional dance festival (late August). The festival features 200 dance teams and 12,000 dancers. Around 1.2 million people attend (over the two days of the event). The festival ends with a grand finale in which all the dance teams dance together. The audience is encouraged to join in The Koenji Awa Odori is ranked #6 of 10 best summer festivals in TokyoThe Koenji Awa Odori is ranked #11 of 100 best festivals in Japan

    Address : Koenjiminami 2-, 3-, and 4-chome, and Koenjikita 2- and 3-chome Suginami-ku Along the shopping streets north and south of JR Koenji Station

    Contact information

    Schedule: Late August 2014

    Start/end time:5:00–8:00 p.m.

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