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47 Japanese Festivals for Japan's 47 Prefectures

By Brianna Fox-Priest
Updated: June 3, 2024

Can you say you really experienced Japanese culture on your Japan trip if you didn’t go to a Japanese festival?

To know what kind of festivals are celebrated in Japan, we’ll need to take a look at each prefecture as all have their own special set of matsuri festivals! Cherry blossom and summer festivals in Japan, such as Tanabata, are the most notorious, but even autumn and winter have special festivals. 

Japan is made up of 47 distinct prefectures, each with its own robust culture, food traditions, and festivals. Save this list for endless Japan travel inspiration.

1. Festival in Aichi: Owari Tsushima Tenno Festival

Located in central Japan, Aichi hosts a spectacular 2-day summer matsuri at the end of July along the Tenno River. The approximately 600-year-old Owari Tsushima Tenno Festival features ornate black-and-gold boats carrying okimono dolls. 

Locals dress in yukata and enjoy watching the boats lit up at night, along with dazzling fireworks, the sounds of flutes and drums, and festival food.

Location: Tsushima Shrine

When: Late July 

2. Festival in Akita: Akita Kanto Festival 

The parade and floating lanterns of Akita Kanto Festival.

Many of Japan’s festivals are rooted in Shinto and Buddhist religious traditions. Akita’s main festival in August, the Akita Kanto Festival, is held to pray for a good harvest of the region's five famous grains.

Young people of the city wearing traditional clothes hoist up 12-meter-long bamboo poles decorated with paper lanterns. This festival is an enthusiastic one full of music and shouting.

Location: Akita City

When: Early August

3. Festival in Aomori: Aomori Nebuta Festival

Aomori’s most famous festival is the Nebuta Festival. The Nebuta are giant hand-crafted papier-mache floats resembling gods, kabuki actors, popular TV characters and local personalities. 

The show lasts about 2 hours in the streets of Aomori City. The parade is full of hundreds of dancers, and musicians, ending with a grand display of fireworks. Audience participation is welcome if you wear the traditional haneto dancing costumes.

Location: Aomori City

When: August 2-7

4. Festival in Chiba: Tanada Night Festival

Experience an enchanting light festival in Chiba, the prefecture to the right of Tokyo. The Tanada Night Festival is a picturesque night full of twinkling LED candles displayed across 375 terraced rice paddies in Oyama Senmaida. 

You’ll feel like you walked into a fairytale at this mountainside location. Enjoy the magic of the night with food stalls, live performances and fireworks.

Location: Oyama Senmaida Rice Terrace

When: October

5. Festival in Fukuoka: Hakata Dontaku Festival 

The colorful dancers of the Hakata Dontaku Festival in Fukuoka.

Dating back to 1179, this prime Golden Week festival attracts over 30,000 participants each year. Taking the cake for Japan’s largest festival, the Hakata Dontaku Festival fills the streets of Fukuoka with dancers in colorful costumes and flower busses, hana jidosha, that light up at night. 

In addition to the parade, 30 stages are set up throughout the city hosting performances with plenty of food, drinks and games nearby.

Location: Fukuoka City

When: May 3-4

6. Festival in Ehime: Uwajima Ushioni Festival 

Love Japanese folklore and monsters? Then you’ll want to head to these Ehime summer matsuri this July!

The Uwajima Ushioni Festival is a 3-day-long celebration centered around ushioni bull demons. The parade showcases 6-meter-tall ushioni puppets fighting in what is called bull sumo. Witness a dance festival on July 22, a kids’ parade and fireworks display on July 23, and the ushioni and shrine parade on July 24.

Location: Warei Shrine

When: July 22-July 24

7. Festival in Fukui: Mikuni Matsuri 

If you are a samurai enthusiast, the Mikuni Matsuri in Fukui prefecture has a procession of six samurai floats marching to local festival music. Every year new floats are made. Standing over 6 meters tall, these samurai dolls will make any Japanese culture fanatic excited.

Location: Mikunicho, Sakai District

When: May 9-21

8. Festival in Fukushima: Soma Nomaoi Wild Horse Chase Festival 

Samurai on horseback, as seen as behind. A view to be discovered at the Soma Nomaoi Wild Horse Chase Festival in Fukushima.

Experience an authentic samurai battle reenactment in Fukushima at the Soma Nomaoi Festival. Featuring more than 400 participants on horseback, a descendant of the Soma clan, leads the “battle” over three days.

This is a rare opportunity to see a carefully replicated samurai battle with armor, military regalia and flags on display — every history buff’s dream.

Location: Haramachiku

When: Late May to early June

9. Festival in Gifu: Takayama Festival

Beautiful yatai floats are a must-see while in Gifu prefecture. The Takayama Festival is held twice a year in a historical district, in the spring and fall. The October festival takes place around the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine.

Witness puppet performances, the famous Goshinku procession featuring portable shrines and participants wearing traditional clothing. Stay until the evening to see the yatai light up the night.

Location: Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine

When: October 9-10

10. Festival in Gunma: Hatsuichi Matsuri Daruma Festival

Time to make a wish! One of Gunma’s most lively festivals, the Hatsuichi Matsuri Daruma Festival, has taken place every January since the 1600s.

It’s a time when people come to give thanks and wish for good luck by placing their old Daruma dolls on a bonfire. Afterward, a new Daruma can be purchased for the year ahead. Don’t forget to grab some festival food and good luck charms before leaving.

Location: Hachiman Shrine

When: January

11. Festival in Hiroshima: Kangensai Festival 

A highly decorated boat at the Kangensai Festival in Hiroshima.

At the iconic “floating” torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine, when the tide is high enough, beautifully decorated boats carry a shrine to the Shinto gate during the summer Kangensai Festival

Ceremonial music is performed at the torii in the bay and then sails back to shore. The grand finale performance is watching the boats twirl three times in the sea.

Location: Itsukushima Shrine

When: June 17 of the lunar calendar

12. Festival in Hokkaido: Yosakoi Soran Festival

Due to its geolocation, Hokkaido is generally cooler throughout the year and receives heavy snowfall in the winter. The most famous festival is the Sapporo Snow Festival, but we are showcasing the Yosakoi Soran Festival, a local summer matsuri featuring dance competitions.

Getting its start in 1992, various teams show off routines based on traditional Awa Odori dance, but many incorporate a more modern flare and colorful costumes.

Location: Odori Park

When: Early June

13. Festival in Hyogo: Sasayama Dekansho Festival 

Held on the grounds of Sasayama Castle, the Sasayama Dekansho Festival is where you can enjoy the Dekansho Song, a song passed down since the Edo Period. Locals dance around a wooden watch tower in traditional clothes and yukata.

This festival is also popular for its street food and fair games. Try a chocolate-dipped banana to set the festival mood.

Location: Sasayama Castle

When: Mid-August

14. Festival in Ibaraki: Ishioka Matsuri

Considered one of the three great festivals of Kanto, spectators can watch 40 portable shrines, floats and more than 30 lion-head horojishi paraded through the city.

The Ishioka Festival is often overlooked by tourists, but is only an hour from Tokyo!

Location: Shoshagu Shrine

When: Three days in September (dates change each year)

15. Festival in Ishikawa: Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Festival 

The bright reds and yellows of the Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Festival in Ishikawa as men parade down the street with banners.

Starting near Kanazawa station, the Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Festival begins with a taiko drum performance at the towering Tsuzumimon gate and proceeds to Kanazawa Castle. 

This summer matsuri is lively and full of locals dancing, samurai warriors and princesses reenacting a piece of feudal history. You can also see Japanese tea ceremonies and children’s lantern drum parades throughout the city.

Location: Kanazawa Station

When: Early June

16. Festival in Iwate: Sansa Odori Festival  

Home to the world’s largest taiko drumming performance, the Sansa Odori Festival is a loud and proud parade. Dancing is encouraged during the final hour of each evening of the festival as long as you wear a yukata, tabi socks and zori (traditional split-socks and sandals). 

Location: Choudori

When: August 1-4

17. Festival in Kagawa: Sanuki Toyohama Chosa Festival 

Possibly Japan’s most glamorous festival is the Sanuki Toyohama Chosa Festival thanks to its 22 giant golden floats. Each spectacular float weighs over two tons and requires 70 disciplined carriers to move, shake and bounce each structure through the streets.

With melodic chanting and drumming, this Kagawa festival is sure to leave a lasting impression this fall.

Location: Kanonji City

When: Mid-October

18. Festival in Kagoshima: Shibushi Buddha Festival 

Celebrating the birth of Gautama Buddha, the Shibushi Buddha Festival in Kagoshima is one of the prefecture's most famous spring matsuri.

The city’s streets bloom with color as a procession of women dressed as brides on horseback make their way to Homanji Temple. All the while, energetic performers dance to the traditional Hanya-bushi song. Music from bands and taiko drummers fills the air. You’ll be in for a treat watching this parade.

Location: Homanji Temple

When: April 29

19. Festival in Kanagawa: Hakone Daimyo Gyoretsu Festival

A parade crossing a bridge in Kanagawa as part of the Hakone Daimyo Gyoretsu Festival. In the background, scenic mountains.

Kanagawa prefecture has plenty of fun festivals throughout the year, including this quirky Penis Festival that’s popular on social media, but it also has its fair share of historically important parades.

Originating during the Edo Period when feudal lords traveled to Edo, now known as Tokyo, every other year, the Hakone Daimyo Gyoretsu Festival includes a 400-person procession of locals dressed as samurai and princesses. Each participant wears a role-fitting costume and carries different weapons to play up the accuracy.  

Location: Yumato

When: November 3

20. Festival in Kochi: Yosakoi Festival

Revel in the excitement of watching 10,000 dancers at Kochi’s annual Yosakoi Festival compete over three days. Each dance team brings its best moves and is joined by drum players, flag twirlers and colorful trucks who chant into speakers to keep the energy going.

Both traditional and vivid outfits are on full display to help get everyone in the celebrating spirit.

Location: Kochi City Hall Square

When: August 9-12

21. Festival in Kumamoto: Kumamoto Castle Festival

One of Japan’s most well-known castles is in Kumamoto Prefecture. Despite being under restoration due to a 2016 earthquake, Kumamoto Castle hosts the Kumamoto Castle Festival on the castle grounds every spring and autumn. 

Every year differs in the events that are held, but the most notable is the taiko performances during sunset. Watching the drummers play in front of the serene castle is one of the best sights to see in Japan.

Location: Kumamoto Castle

When: Spring and Fall

22. Festival in Kyoto: Gion Matsuri  

The famous Gion Matsuri in Kyoto, with an eye-catching shrine being carried along in a parade.

Japan’s biggest summer matsuri takes place in central Kyoto during the whole month of July. Often requiring accommodation in advance if you book a stay in Kyoto, the Gion Matsuri is notorious for its intricately detailed floats. 

The height of the festivities take place on July 17 and July 24 where the most floats are present and pulled through the city. During the evenings, locals and visitors wear yukata and enjoy street food.

Location: Yasaka Shrine

When: July

23. Festival in Mie: Kumano Fireworks Festival 

Nothing says summer in Japan like hanabi (fireworks). As a part of the Obon holiday, Mie Prefecture hosts the 300-year-old Kumano Fireworks Festival on Shichiri Mihama Beach. 

Experience a two-hour jaw-dropping fireworks show that displays Japan's finest pyrotechnology. Keep in mind traffic is heightened during this festival and it may take several hours to travel from large cities like Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.

Location: Shichiri Mihama Beach

When: August 17

24. Festival in Miyagi: Sendai Tanabata Festival 

Looking up at the decorations of the Sendai Tanabata Festival in Miyagi, set against a clear, blue sky.

Tanabata is another famous festival celebrated throughout Japan, celebrating the legend of star-crossed lovers

The Sendai Tanabata Festival is a special display that takes over most of the city. Shopping arcades are full of bright and colorful streamers hanging from the ceiling. Visit the night before August 6 to watch a fitting fireworks display.

Location: Sendai City

When: August 6-8

25. Festival in Miyazaki: Hyuga Hyottoko Summer Festival  

Every year the Hyuga Hyottoko Summer Festival attracts 70,000 visitors in Miyazaki. A comedic Hyottoko dance takes place where dancers dress in uniform of a head towel, red kimono and traditional loincloth.

The traditional folk dance is fun and dynamic, making it a great way to experience traditional Japanese culture. Don’t leave without buying good omen charms.

Location: Hyuga City

When: Early August

26. Festival in Nagano: Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival 

Japan has plenty of fire festivals, but the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival allows villagers to torch a temporary shrine until it burns completely. 

The winter festival is a traditional day for families to pray for good health for their firstborn child and a good harvest.

Location: Dosojinba Square 

When: January 15

27. Festival in Nagasaki: Nagasaki Kunchi Festival

A Chinese-inspired dragon float at the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival in Nagasaki.

Nagasaki Kunchi shows off the pride of Nagasaki locals. It’s a fun 400-year-old celebration that represents the area's diversity. 

Watch the Chinese-influenced Jaodori, dragon dance, eat fusion street food and watch dancers represent their city district on the main stages.

Location: Suwa Shrine 

When: October 7-9 

28. Festival in Niigata: Nagaoka Fireworks Festival 

Nagaoka Fireworks Festival is another one of Japan’s famous hanabi displays. Upwards of a million people watch it on the Shinano River banks.

Major displays include portable shrines, parades, folk dancing and paper lanterns being released down the river. It’s a beautifully moving festival at the height of summer. 

Location: Shinano River

When: August 2-3

29. Festival in Nara: Wakakusa

The iconic burning fields and fireworks of the Wakakusa festival in Nara.

Head to Nara to witness a carefully executed mountainside set ablaze on Wakakusa Mountain

Known as Yamayaki, the surrounding town is a good vantage spot to watch the mountain burn. Traditional music and dancers travel to participate in the ceremony, while torch carriers hike the mountain. After dark, fireworks are set off to close the night.

Location: Kasuga Taisha Shrine

When: End of January 

30. Festival in Oita: Usuki Takeyoi Festival

The Usuki Takeyoi Festival celebrates Oita’s famous bamboo in style. This string of festivals simultaneously occurs in three cities around Oita and is guaranteed to take your breath away. 

Usuki City lights up bamboo lanterns and art made by local schools and businesses in honor of Princess Hannyahime. Taketa City displays over 20,000 hand-carved bamboo lanterns and during the Hita City festival, around 30,000 bamboo lanterns are lit around the Kagetsu River.

Location: Usuki City, Taketa City, Hita City

When: Early November

31. Festival in Okayama: Yakage Samurai Parade

Every November, elaborate costumed processions take place in southwest Okayama prefecture known as the Samurai Parade.

Once a prominent location for regional lords traversing to Edo from western Japan, the locals of Yakage hold an annual reenactment of centuries past. The roles of regional lord, princess and around 80 others head the procession.

Location: Yakage

When: Mid-November

32. Festival in Okinawa: 10,000 Eisa Dancers Parade

10,000 Eisa dancers lining the streets of Okinawa, dancing and banging drums.

Okinawa, once known as the Ryukyu Kingdom, has a diverse island culture distinct from mainland Japan.

In celebration of the traditional Okinawan Eisa dance, the 10,000 Eisa Dancers Parade is a famous summer matsuri in Naha City. Dance groups of all ages put on their best show by drumming and dancing in sync. A must-see while in Okinawa!

Location: Naha City

When: August

33. Festival in Osaka: Tenjin Festival

This 1,000-year-old festival is during the peak summer matsuri season. The streets and skies of Osaka light up at the Tenjin Festival in July. 

Boisterous music, music and rituals occur over the two-day festival, including a thrilling procession of portable shrines on boats and fireworks to end the weekend. Put on your best yukata and enjoy the traditional summer activities. 

Location: Osaka Tenmangu Shrine

When: July 24-25

34. Festival in Saga: Karatsu Kunchi Festival

If you love Japan’s giant float culture, the fall Karatsu Kunchi Matsuri is the perfect event to visit.

Impressive samurai helmets, folklore sea creatures and dragons tower above the crowd in Karatsu. A sight to behold, the floats were designated UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status.

Location: Karatsu

When: Late October - Early November

35. Festival in Saitama: Kawagoe Festival 

The dramatic parade and two-story floats of the Kawagoe Festival in Saitama.

Less than an hour from Tokyo, Kawagoe, Little Edo, is a historical city in Saitama Prefecture. 

The city’s most popular festival is held in the Kurazukuri district, giving eventgoers a glimpse into the past. Watch large two-story floats carrying dolls of ancient legends roam the streets and indulge in street fare.

Location: Kawagoe

When: Mid-October

36. Festival in Shiga: Otsu Matsuri 

The Otsu Matsuri in Shiga prefecture is a colorful parade of floats carrying mechanized dolls and tanuki dolls, known as Japanese raccoon dogs.

This unique festival occurs around Sports Day and is a fun celebration of Otsu’s prosperity. 

Location: Otsu City 

When: October 7

37. Festival in Shimane: Kawahira Hanataue Festival

Enthusiasts of local fanfare and matsuri will be delighted to witness the Kawahira Hanataue Festival in May. The small agricultural village dresses up in colorful traditional garb, leading young maidens through the rice paddy to plant seedlings. 

It’s a rare and small festival, but visitors are encouraged to visit.

Location: Kawahira Village

When: End of May

38. Festival in Tochigi: Nikko Toshogu Shuki Taisai Grand Autumn Festival

Proud samurai in red cloaks ride horses through the Nikko Toshogu Shuki Taisai Grand Autumn Festival in Tochigi.

Honoring a legendary leader, this festival occurs annually in Nikko, a UNESCO Heritage site.

Enjoy archery demonstrations and a 1,000-person samurai march to honor and escort the spirit of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Location: Toshogu Shrine

When: October

39. Festival in Shizuoka: Shimizu Tanabata Festival

If you can’t make it to Sendai, Shimizu in Shizuoka Prefecture hosts the largest Tanabata event in Shizuoka. Bright-colored streamers and decorations line the streets and storefronts.

Location: Shimizu

When: July

40. Festival in Tokushima: Awa Odori Festival  

This famous traditional dance takes place during summer matsuri across the country. Originating in the area over 400 years ago, Tokushima’s Awa Odori Festival garners national attention, attracting over a million people every August.

Ren group dancers perform well into the evening and wear traditional happi and yukata. 

Location: Tokushima City

When: August 12-15

41. Festival in Tokyo: Sanno Matsuri

The elegant shrine of Sanno Matsuri in Tokyo, being carried by men in white as onlookers take pictures.

The week-long Sanno Matsuri marks the start of Tokyo’s summer matsuri season.

As one of the three most famous festivals of Edo, portable shrines are carried through central Tokyo for 9 hours. On-lookers will be able to see two imperial carriages alongside the shrines.

Location: Hie Jinja

When: June 7-17

42. Festival in Tottori: Shanshan Festival 

A unique celebration during the Obon holidays, the Shanshan Festival in Tottori City fills the streets with around 4,000 umbrella dancers. The dance is known as kasa-odori. Groups of dancers shake colorful paper umbrellas adorned with bells to honor their ancestors.

Location: Tottori City

When: Mid-August

43. Festival in Toyama: Owara Kaze no Bon Festival 

The Owara Kaze no Bon Festival originated over 300 years ago when villagers prayed to protect families and crops from natural disasters. 

11 towns join together to dance in colorful uniforms and straw hats well into the night during this September festival. The synchronized movements of the dancers are hypnotic.

Location: Yatsuo

When: Early September

44. Festival in Wakayama: Shirahama Summer Fireworks Festival 

Fireworks light up the sky at the Shirahama Summer Fireworks Festival in Wakayama.

White sandy beaches and dazzling fireworks mark the peak of summer in Shirahama of Wakayama prefecture.

Load up on Japanese yatai stall food and take a seat on the beach to watch the hour-long fireworks show. The best part of the show is the 1,000-meter-long cascade of fireworks known as Niagara Falls.

Location: Shirara Beach

When: August 10

45. Festival in Yamagata: Shinjo Festival

Inspired by kabuki theater, the Shinjo Festival happens over three days, parading large colorful floats through the streets of Shinjo.

Taiko drumming and flutes fill the air as half a million visitors watch the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage floats and dancers. This summer matsuri also has an impressive amount of food stalls — more than 300!

Location: Shinjo

When: August 24-26

46. Festival in Yamaguchi: Yamaguchi Tanabata Lantern Festival 

Experience Tanabata festivities unlike any other at the Yamaguchi Tanabata Lantern Festival.

For almost 600 years, citizens of Yamaguchi have lit candles and lanterns during Obon. Now, the festival includes tens of thousands of illuminated red lanterns covering the shopping streets of the city.

Location: Yamaguchi City

When: Early August

47. Festival in Yamanashi: Yoshida Fire Festival

A crowd carrying large paper lanterns and preparing to set fire to a central tower at the Yoshida Fire Festival in Yamanashi.

Closing out the climbing season on Mt. Fuji, the Yoshida Fire Festival celebrates by parading mikoshi portable shrines through town. 

Taking various routes, each shrine is followed by crowds until returned to a sacred resting place. Giant torches are lit throughout town to celebrate.

Location: Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine

When: August 26-27

There are tons of festivals and summer matsuri to check out on your Japan trip! If you need more recommendations, check out our guide to Japan’s most famous festivals, the best Tokyo matsuri for every season, and try our favorite things to do during summer in Japan.

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Brianna Fox-Priest
Your local cafe hopping expert. Brianna is a Japan writer and coffee shop enthusiast. Her days as a Japanese language student in Tokyo led to the discovery of the city's many hidden gems. When she's not writing, you can find her on the lookout for shrines or ice cream (and sometimes both).
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