Famous Festivals in Japan

Numerous well-known festivals that have been celebrated all over Japan since ancient times have been passed down through the generations.

Therefore, this time I’ve listed the top 12 well-known festivals in Japan in order of popularity (from top 1 to top 12).

Top 12 Famous Festivals in Japan

Aomori Nebuta Festival (Aomori Prefecture)

Date: August 2nd to 7th

Organizer: Aomori Nebuta Festival Executive

Number of visitors: 2.7 million

Every August 2 to August 7, Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture, hosts the Aomori Nebuta Festival (Aomori Nebuta Matsuri). In Japan, it is the most well-liked summer event, drawing more than 2 million visitors each year. It was recognized as an important intangible folk cultural property at the national level in 1980.

Gion Festival (Kyoto Prefecture)

Date: July 1st to 31st

Difference in number of visitors: Approximately 2 million

The Gion Matsuri is a Yasaka Shrine celebration that dates back to the 11th year of Jogan in the early Heian era (869). People at the period believed that the Gozu Tenno curse was to blame for an illness that was sweeping across Kyoto and other nations. In order to fend off the disease god’s curse, a celebration was performed with 66 spears, the same number of nations, and a portable shrine was sent to Shinsenen.

The Gion Festival is claimed to have started at this time (Gion Goryoe). Along with the Tenjin Festival in Osaka and the Kanda Festival in Tokyo, the Gion Festival has been celebrated in Japan for more than 1,000 years and is included as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Sapporo Snow Festival (Hokkaido)

Date: February 5th to 11th

Sponsors: Sapporo City, Sapporo Tourism Association, Sapporo City Board of Education, Sapporo Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Number of visitors: Approximately 2 million

The Sapporo Snow Festival is hosted each year in early February in a number of locations, including Odori Park in Uchino, in Chuo Ward, Sapporo City, Hokkaido. Large and tiny snow sculptures make up the majority of the show, although ice sculptures are also on display, mostly in the Susukino site.

Along with the Quebec Winter Carnival (Canada) and the Harbin Ice Festival, it is one of the biggest events in Hokkaido, drawing close to 2 million visitors from Hokkaido as well as from all across Japan and abroad (China). It is regarded as one of the three biggest snow events in the world.

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Awa Odori (Tokushima Prefecture)

Date: August 12th to 15th

Venue: Urban area on the south side of Tokushima Station

Organizer: Awa Odori Future Executive Committee

Number of visitors: Approximately 1.2 million

Tokushima City Awa Odori is a traditional Japanese performance art that has been practiced there since the Edo period and is celebrated every year in Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture.

More than 1.2 million visitors from all across Japan visit Tokushima City each year, which has a population of roughly 250,000. Many of these excursions are sponsored by travel companies.

Yosakoi Festival (Kochi Prefecture)

Date: August 9th to 11th

Venue: Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture

Number of visitors: About 1 million

Every year on the evenings of August 9, August 10, and August 11, Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture hosts the Yosakoi Festival (Yosakoi Festival). The primary festival will take place on August 11, followed by the national competition and after party on August 12. A total of 4,000 pyrotechnics will be let off on September 9 at the Kochi City Noryo Fireworks Festival.

One of the three largest festivals in Shikoku, with attendance of around 1 million people over the course of four days, is estimated to have an economic impact of 10 billion yen.

Sendai Tanabata Festival (Miyagi Prefecture)

Date: August 6th to 8th

Venue: All areas of Sendai City, centering on the arcade streets of Chuo-dori and Ichiban-cho

Number of visitors: 2 million

It is an annual holiday celebrated in honor of Tanabata. Locals also refer to it as “Tanabata-san,” and the Sendai Tanabata Festival, which is hosted in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is especially well-known.

Large-scale decorations are constructed for arcade streets such Ichiban-cho and Chuo-dori as well as the area around Sendai Station, but there are also decorations for each retail district organization as well as unique decorations for businesses and residences in other parts of the city.

The streets are covered in a total of 3,000 decorations, ranging in size from tiny to enormous, and the city is illuminated in Tanabata-inspired hues. Over 2 million people attend each year, making it one of the three main festivals in the Tohoku area.

Kishiwada Danjiri Festival (Osaka Prefecture)

Date: September

Venue: Northwestern part of Kishiwada City, Kishiwada Castle Town and its surroundings

Number of visitors: About 400,000

In 1745, Kitamachi Chaya Shinemon learned about the Osaka festival and asked the lord of the domain for permission to raise a lantern for the festival at Gozu Tenno Shrine (now Kishiki Shrine), which was granted.

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This festival is known as the Kishiwada Danjiri Festival and is held in Kishiwada City, Osaka Prefecture. is. The true excitement comes during the yari-mawashi, when the Danjiri quickly changes direction while throngs of fans pack the tow course’s bends.

Another attraction is the intricate carvings on the danjiri, and if you inquire during breaks or other pauses, you might be permitted to see them.

It started out as a regional festival for the Kansai area, but when the Showa era drew to an end, it started to be covered widely in the media and all of a sudden expanded to become a national event.

Hakata Dontaku Port Festival (Fukuoka Prefecture)

Date: May 3rd and 4th

Venue: Various parts of Fukuoka City

Organizer: Fukuoka Citizens’ Festival Promotion

Number of visitors: 2 million

On May 3 and 4, Hakata Dontaku, along with Hakata Gion Yamakasa and Hakozakigu Hojokai, is one of the festivals that is renowned to symbolize Fukuoka Hakata. It is hosted in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture each year.

The Fukujin-ryu, Ebisu-ryu, Daikoku-ryu, Chigo-to-ryu, and Chigo-sei-ryu have united to form the Hakata Matsubayashi Promotion Association, which promotes Hakata Matsubayashi, a Selected Intangible Folk Cultural Property that may be considered the foundation and heart of Hakata Dontaku.

YOSAKOI Soran Festival (Hokkaido)

Date: Early June

Venue: Odori Park Nishi 8-chome venue, Odori North-South Parade venue, etc.

Organizers: YOSAKOI Soran Festival Organizing Committee, Sapporo City, Sapporo Tourism Association, Sapporo Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Number of visitors: Approximately 2.1 million

The Yosakoi Soran Festival is an annual occasion that is put on by the Yosakoi Soran Festival Organizing Committee in Sapporo, Hokkaido, in early June. The Yosakoi Festival in Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture, is where it all started.

The Sapporo Snow Festival is one of the few significant events and tourist destinations in early June that draw visitors from beyond Hokkaido.

By conducting the Yosakoi Soran Festival in the first part of June, we are able to draw in more visitors and provide positive economic consequences like rising tourism revenue.

Hakata Gion Yamakasa (Fukuoka Prefecture)

Period: July 1st to 15th

Venue: Hakata area in Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City (area between Naka River and Mikasa River (Ishido River))

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Number of visitors: Approximately 3.5 million

The general shrine of Hakata is known as Hakata Gion Yamakasa, and every year from July 1 to July 15, it is conducted in Kushida Shrine in Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City. This dedication rite has a history dating back more than 700 years. Along with Hakata Dontaku, it is one of the Gion festivals honoring Susanowo no Mikoto, a tradition that has been passed down from one area to another.

The Yamakasa phrase “Osshoi” was chosen as one of Japan’s top 100 soundscapes in 1996 and designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property. 

In addition, 33 festivals around Japan, including the Hakata Gion Yamakasa, which draws approximately 3.5 million visitors annually, were added to the list of “Yama, Hoko, Yatai Events” on December 1, 2016, making them part of the country’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Spirit sinking (Nagasaki prefecture)

Date: August 15th

Venue: Nagasaki City and other parts of Nagasaki Prefecture

During the Obon Festival, Shoro Nagashi, a ceremony to lament and send the spirits of the deceased, is conducted in various locations around Nagasaki Prefecture, sections of Kumamoto Prefecture, and Saga City. Every year, it begins on the evening of August 15th amid the commotion of gongs, yells, and the explosion of firecrackers. The beautiful spirit boats, which resemble dashi floats, draw attention from onlookers.

Sanja Festival (Tokyo)

Date: Friday to Sunday of the 3rd week of May

Venue: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Organizer: Asakusa Shrine Hosankai

Number of visitors: Approximately 2 million

Sanja Matsuri is an annual event held in Asakusa Shrine in Asakusa, Taito Ward, Tokyo. It is also known as Sansha Daigongensha or Sansha Myojin Shrine, where three individuals—Hinomae Hamanari, the Takenari brothers, and Haji Manakatomo—are revered. The full name is “Asakusa Shrine Reitaisai” due of this name.

The traditional design of the devoted dengaku “Binzasara Mai” is well-known. The entire city, focused on the well-known tourist attractions Asakusa Shrine and Sensoji Temple, is paraded with over 100 mikoshi (portable shrines). It appears that many international visitors are drawn in by the festival’s intense atmosphere and return frequently.

Which is the Best Festival in Japan

So far, 12 well-known festivals! How did it go when I provided the popularity ranking? The Nebuta Festival in Aomori Prefecture came in first. Why not check out the festivals we’ve mentioned here?