The Most Popular Festivals Held in Japan
May 24, 2017

Each year, over 300,000 traditional festivals are held in Japan. They differ greatly depending on where they are being held, and although they are usually organized by local people, they are always blessed by a local temple or shrine. Because there are so many festivals in Japan, it would be pretty much impossible to discuss all of them in this article. So, instead we are going to look at some of the most popular ones, which draw visitors from all around the world.

Gion Matsuri

Considered by many to be the most famous festival in Japan, Gion Masturi is held in July in Kyoto. Throughout the month, the streets are lined with traditional food stalls selling numerous culinary delights, and the locals walk the streets in traditional dress. Some houses in the merchant district also open their doors so that the public can enter and view their family heirlooms. The festival was originally performed as a way to appease the gods, and it has grown over the years to become the big event it is today.

Awa Odori

Held from the 12th-15th August, Awa Odori is the largest traditional dance festival in Japan. It is hosted in Tokushimo and is as popular with tourists as it is the locals. During the festival, you can expect to see many people wearing traditional Japanese dress, dancing to the rhythmic music. Choreographed dancers perform in the streets, and watchers are encouraged to join in. During the day time, the dances are quite relaxed, however as dusk approaches they become much more frenzied. It is definitely worth experiencing both if you can.

Kanda Matsuri

Kanda Matsuri takes place on odd numbered years during mid May in Tokyo. The festival consists of numerous different elements, including a procession, costume parades, festival music, and origami dragon design. The majority of the attractions happen during the weekend, however the run up events can be just as fun. Kanda Matsuri is one of Tokyo’s three great Shinto festivals, and really should not be missed if you are visiting the country at the time.

Yuki Matsuri

Now, this is one festival you probably weren’t expecting. Yuki Matsuri is the snow festival, and is held in Sapporo every February. It is one of the largest winter events in the whole of Japan, and is visited by over two million people every year. This is one of the newer festivals in Japan, and originated 50 years ago when a group of high school students decided to create some sculptures in Odori Park. Nowadays, around 400 ice statues are on display, each more impressive than the last. Ice slides, a snow maze, and music performances can also be enjoyed during Yuki Matsuri.

If you are planning a visit to Japan in the near future, it is well worth trying to visit while one of the above festivals is taking place. None will be like anything you have ever seen before, but you are sure to enjoy every moment.