The 5 Best Tokyo Summer Festivals – Good Times to Be Had This Season

Japanese summers may bring on the heat and humidity, but they also signal Japan’s love of the festive. Japanese summer festivals are filled with exuberant taiko drumming, elegantly energetic traditional dances, explosively beautiful fireworks and belly satisfying street food stalls. Tokyo’s festivals cover the whole spectrum – from congenial goodwill ceremonies to fireworks extravaganzas, summertime in Tokyo is never a dull moment.

Shiba Daijingu Daradara Matsuri

Photo by KENPEI on WIkimedia Commons.

Daradara means to dawdle and this festival certainly takes its time. At eleven days, the Shiba Daijingu Daradara Festival in mid-September is Japan’s longest. Its shrine, Shiba Shrine, is famous for its infamy. In the late Edo period, it turns out that a brawl between the local firemen and some sumo wrestlers occurred there, hence the shrine’s fire alarm decorations. The main mikoshi portable shrine procession will occur midway through the festival with other shrines paraded throughout the other eleven days.

The festival is 1-minute walk from Daimon Station on the Toei Asakusa Line to Daimon Station or a 5-minute walk from Hamamatsucho Station on the JR Yamanote Line.

2019 – September 11~21

Asakusa Toro Nagashi Festival

Photo by Matt May on Flickr.

The Asakusa Toro Nagashi Festival in mid-August sees participants releasing of hundreds of paper lanterns from Shinsui Terrace near Azaumabashi Bridge in Sumida Park. Gliding gently along the Sumida River, the lanterns were originally released to mourn the deceased but has now become a ceremony for the realization of hopes and dreams. Much more laid back than most summer festivals, the Toro Nagashi Festival has a touch of the dignified to it, particularly if you send off your own lantern.

The festival is 3-minute walk from Asakusa Station on the Ginza Subway Line or Tobu Skytree Line.

2019 – August 10

Koto Fireworks Festival

Fireworks against the evening sky are always beautiful. Photo by Manish Prabhune on Flickr.

Launched from barges close to the shore, the 4,000 fireworks of the Koto Fireworks Festival attracts over 320,000 spectators to the banks of the Arakawa River. Held at the beginning of August, the closer than usual proximity of the launch sites creates an amazingly tactile experience – you can easily feel the explosive reverberations of the fireworks as they are released into the night sky.

The festival is a 15-minute walk from Minami-Sunamachi Station on the Tozai Subway Line.

2019 – August 1

Azabu-Juban Noryo Festival

Azabu Juban fills up over the two-day festival. Photo by Pocsywe on Wikimedia Commons.

With 300,000 people descending onto the shopping streets of Azabu Juban in late August, the Azabu-Juban Noryo Festival lives up to its billing as the main event of the local calendar. Famous for its global food culture, the two-day festival celebrates the cosmopolitan with hundreds of yatai street food stalls serving dishes from not only all over the world but also from the local community and regions from throughout Japan. Modern in focus, the festival’s evening dancers, performances and live music is a celebration of modern Japan.

The festival is outside of Azabu Juban Station on the Toei Oedo Line or the Namboku Subway Line.

2019 – August 24~25

Fukugawa Hachiman Festival

Water being thrown at the mikoshi. Photo by 東京特許許可局 on Wikimedia Commons.

Held in mid-August and one of Tokyo’s three largest festivals, the 5-day Fukagawa Hachiman Festival in Koto City is wildly famous for its water throwing chaos. With thousands of people throwing water at the mikoshi portable shrines, the energy reaches fever pitch every three years when the festival becomes the Hon Matsuri. Here, participants get the added bonus of targeting the Imperial shrine and its attendant 120 smaller mikoshi. For those hoping to stay dry, there are plenty of taiko drummers, traditional dances and street food stalls to keep you occupied.

The festival is close to Monzen-nakacho Station on the Oedo or Tozai Subway Lines.

2019 – August 11~15

Tokyo is blessed with scores of festivals running throughout the summer season. Totally free to enjoy, these five festivals are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to traditional summer fun in the city. Music and dance, food and fireworks, tradition and modernity, Tokyo’s summer festivals have it all.

Taiko drummers beating out summer rhythms. Photo by nobu3withfoxy on Flickr.

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