Festivals in Tokyo

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Tokyo festivals are often traditional and religious in nature, though there are plenty that are a bit more modern or secular. If you'd like to experience a bit of ceremony and celebration in Japan, why not plan your trip to Tokyo during one of the following festivals.


New Year's Day - The first of January is the time for celebrating the New Year, as it is in the western world. You'll find Tokyo's temples filled to the brim with kimono-dressed locals all praying for good luck and buying fortunes. You can purchase a small parchment containing a fortune for the year and if you're unhappy with it, just tie it to a tree before you leave and say a quick prayer that the fortune won't come true. If the fortune sounds good, take it with you.

Bean Throwing Festival - On February 3 you can witness the bean throwing ceremony that takes place in both homes and temples. Cleansing your home and life of evil for the year is a tradition that was originally associated with the Lunar New Year when people roasted soy beans and tossed them out the window.

Tokyo Folklore Festival - February 11 is a great day to head out to the Tokyo Metropolitan Tama Social Education Center to witness incredible displays of folk dances, drum rituals and more.


Flower Festivals - When spring hits and the buds begin to bloom you can witness the many flower festivals in Tokyo. The actual days will depend on the flowers themselves, but the Apricot Festival, Azalea Festival and Wisteria Festival are all beautiful, fragrant and fun.

Kanda Matsuri - This festival takes place on whichever weekend falls closest to the May 15, but only on odd numbered years. Head to Kanda to celebrate victory and prosperity and see parades, music, dancing and more.

Sanja Matsuri - On the third weekend of May you can head to the Asakusa Shrine for a Shinto celebration that includes traditional music and dancing as well as a parade. One of the highlights of this festival is the Geisha show, known to be one of the best in Tokyo. It's a rare opportunity to see the Geishas all dressed up and performing traditional dances.


Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival - Near Asakusa on the last Saturday of July is the best fireworks show of the year. Rival companies spend the night trying to outdo each other, resulting in some fantastic displays. There are plenty of other fireworks festivals throughout the season, but this is the one you won't want to miss.

Obon Festival - This is a religious and family-oriented festival when everyone returns to their homes to reunite with the spirits of ancestors. Tokyo celebrates this day on July 15 and August 15, so you may want to avoid travel on these days. However, you should definitely try to get to the nearest river once nightfall hits, as locals send lit paper lanterns down the river to send off their ancestors for the year.


Maple Leaf Festival - Throughout October and especially on the weekends you can enjoy street performers and plenty of fantastic foods to welcome in the autumn.

International Film Festival - Head to Shibuya to witness the film festival every November. It's mostly Asian films being screened, but occasionally there's a foreign flick thrown in for good measure.

February 19, 2010 change by schitti

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