Looking for free things to do in Tokyo this summer? The following are some of the top festivals and other events being held in the city in July, and all of these are free to attend. Just remember to bring a little money for festival snacks, beer, or goldfish scooping!
Iriya Morning Glory Festival
Japan loves its flowers and holds festivals to celebrate their blooms at every opportunity. Morning glories, known as asagao in Japanese (literally “morning faces”), are no exception. This matsuri (festival) is held at Shingenji Temple near Uguisudani station between the 6th and 8th of July each year. Google Map
Shitamachi Tanabata Festival
Tanabata, the Star Festival, is a major celebration in Japan, marking the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar. Some parts of Japan, such as Sendai, celebrate in August, but Tokyo holds this event in July. There will be a parade on Saturday the 8th, starting at , and dancing, taiko drumming and shamisen performances on Sunday.
Hozuki Chinese Lantern Fair
The hozuki plant, also known as Chinese lanterns, is a famous ornamental plant in Japan and there are fairs in many locations in Tokyo where farmers show off this beautiful plant with its lantern-like fruit coverings, and people come to buy one for their home. The biggest of these fairs is the Hozuki Ichi at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Google Map
Ueno Summer Festival
This summer matsuri features ice sculpture and an antiques market, plus a stage for music performances. There is a parade scheduled for July 22nd.
Location: Around Ueno Park and Shinobazu Pond
Adachi Fireworks Festival
Sat July 22, 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm
The Adachi Fireworks Festival has a long history of close to 100 years, and in 2017 there are 12,000 fireworks planned, ensuring that this show will be a good one! The fireworks will go off above the Arakawa River in northeastern Tokyo, between Nishiarai Bridge and the Chiyoda Line Metro Bridge, so the embankments on either side of the river will be the prime viewing locations. Last year an estimated 600,000 people came to watch the show, so arrive early and be prepared for sharing space with fellow revelers!
Location: Adachi-ku. Closest stations are Kitasenju station on the Joban Line, and Kosuge station on the Tobu Skytree line. The fireworks can also be enjoyed from farther away along the riverbank, near Nippori Toneri Liner stations Ogi-ohashi or Adachi-odai. Google Map
Hachioji Fireworks Festival
Sat July 22, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
If you happen to find yourself way out west in Hachioji, a Tokyo suburb, pay a visit the Daiwa House Stadium in Fujimori Park, where another fireworks show is planned.
Location: Fujimori Park is a 15 min walk from either Nishi-Hachioji station on the JR Chuo Line, or Yamada station on the Keio Takao Line. Google Map
Edogawa Goldfish Festival
Goldfish have a long history in Japan, having been introduced from China in the early 17th century, and at this festival in eastern Tokyo you can have fun checking out goldfish of all different varieties and colors. Kingyo-sukui, goldfish scooping, is a really popular game at festivals all around Japan. You can keep the goldfish you scoop and purchase all necessary equipment for raising your new pet. Goldfish scooping is free for children 15 and under. Additionally, classic Japanese summer festival items like wind chimes (fuurin) are on display and for sale.
Location: Gyosen Park, Edogawa-ku, Tokyo (3-2-1 Kitakasai) Google Map
Katsushika Fireworks Festival
, 7:20 pm - 8:20 pm
12,000 fireworks are planned for this popular hanabi taikai along the banks of the Edogawa River.
Location: Shibamata Baseball Park. Closest stations are Shibamata on the Keisei Line, Kanamachi on the JR Joban Line, and Shin-Shibamata on the Hokuso Line. Shin-Shibata station is expected to see slightly less crowds, so that could be a good option. Google Map
The highlight of this matsuri is probably the Awa Odori dancing held on the evenings of Friday July 28 and Saturday July 29. The main dancing happens from 7 to 9pm both nights, but there kids perform their Awa Odori dancing . Before that, on Wednesday and Thursday, there is a hozuki (Chinese lantern plant) market. There will be games for kids, such as the ubiquitous summer goldfish scooping, as well as fishing for high-bounce balls and yo-yos, starting from 5:30pm on Wed. and Thurs. nights. Kagurazaka is less visited by tourists than many Tokyo neighborhoods, but it has a lot of charm, especially during this festival.
Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival
Said to be the oldest fireworks festival in Japan, the tradition of this festival dates all the way back to the year 1733. These days it is also the biggest, with people coming from all over to watch the beautiful hanabi. For the ultimate summer festival feeling buy or rent a yukata (light summer kimono) to wear.
Shinjuku Eisa Festival
This traditional Okinawan dance festival has a different feel than what you'll find at most Japanese festivals. With dozens of teams scheduled to perform this year, expect lots of energy and positive vibes, all right in central Shinjuku.
Location: Several streets in Shinjuku, mostly stretching from the East Exit.