With August just around the corner, it is finally time to say bye-bye to the rainy season and welcome sunshine (and humidity)! If you are lucky enough to visit Tokyo in August, you'll be able to get a taste of the true Japanese festival experience.
The 8th month of the year is the time for one of the most important matsuri (festivals) for locals. The Obon festival celebrates the spirits of their ancestors who have come back home to reunite with their families during the holiday. The tradition includes Obon dances and Tanabata (the “Star Festival,” which is often marked by lantern events). Japanese people love traditions and August is a month of entertainment and get-togethers; be ready for hanabi (fireworks watching), street dancing to the rhythm of the beating drums, and carnivals.
Sounds good? Even better, each festival comes with yatai (temporary food stalls) offering the best of Japan on a platter. Get tempted by yakitori, takoyaki, yakisoba, and karaage; or, if you have more of a sweet tooth, try the famous kakigori (shaved ice, often with strawberry, matcha, melon, or "blue Hawaii" syrup).
Ready? Face the heat, put on your yukata (a sort of kimono, but much lighter), and stroll through the streets of Tokyo, completely set for matsuri!
Tokyo Events in August 2019
- Asagaya Tanabata Festival
- Ajinomoto Stadium Flea Market
- Pikachu Outbreak
- Toro Nagashi
- Shimokitazawa Bon Odori
- Citta Summer Festival Night Market
- Koenji Awa Odori
- Azabu Juban Noryo Festival
- Golden Gai Noryousai
- Asakusa Samba Carnival
1. Asagaya Tanabata Festival
Celebrating the meeting of Orihime and Hikoboshi, two star-crossed lovers separated by the Milky Way, the Asagaya Tanabata Festival is one of the most popular matsuri to celebrate in Tokyo in August. The festival is renowned for its gigantic papier-mâché figures that often represent popular Disney, Studio Ghibli, or Hello Kitty characters. Hung from the roof and over numerous food stalls, the giant ornaments attract tourists, locals, and families. Launched in 1954 by merchants in the quest of more customers, the Asagaya Tanabata Festival is in constant increase year after year, a winning bet for the Pearl Center shop owners!
Dates: August 3-7, 2019
Time: 10 am – 10 pm
Location: Asagaya Pearl Centre
2. Ajinomoto Stadium Flea Market
Want to pop some tags at a cheap price? With more than 800 stalls, Ajinomoto Flea Market is one of the biggest flea markets in Japan. The market entry fees start at 300 yen (at 10:00 am) but, if you want to avoid the big crowd you can enter the area at 8:00 am for 1000 yen. Between food stalls, antique pieces, and second-hand clothes, you are sure to be soon the owner of a rare pearl. Come on, it’s time for a bargain!
Date: August 8, 2019
Time: 10 am – 4 pm
Price: 300 - 1000 yen
Location: Ajinomoto Stadium
3. Pikachu Outbreak
Unless you have been living in a cave, you haven’t escaped the Pokemon phenomenon! With more than 2,000 Pikachu, the Pikachu outbreak is coming back to Yokohama, in the Greater Tokyo Area, for a Pokemon party. On the agenda: Pikachu and Eevee parades, light performances, seas of Pikachu, and a Pikachu forest. It’s time to catch them all!
Dates: August 6-12, 2019
Time: All day
Location: Various locations in Minato Mirai, Yokohama
4. Toro Nagashi
For Japanese citizens, the Obon festival celebrates the homecoming of their ancestors’ spirits to celebrate with the family. For three days, dances and ceremonies are held all around the country to commemorate the dead. To help the spirits return to the spirit world, Japanese families guide them with lanterns during the Toro Nagashi Festival. Held in Asakusa, along the Sumida River from the Azuma-bashi Bridge to the Kototoi-bashi Bridge, more than 2,500 lanterns slide down the river to guide the souls of the deceased, resulting in an incredible scene: glowing lanterns that fade into the distance.
Date: August 10, 2019
Time: 6:45 pm – 8 pm
Price: Free (lantern: 1,500 yen)
Location: Sumida River: Azuma-Bashi Bridge
5. Shimokitazawa Bon Odori
A typical festival of the Obon period, Shimokitazawa Bon Odori is an intimate event held in the neighborhood of Shimokitazawa. To welcome home their ancestors visiting from “the other side,” teams of dancers in traditional garments gather in front of a square stage in the neighborhood’s streets and dance. The routine is simple: step back and forth while clapping with raised arms and turning counterclockwise. The festival also offers typical matsuri food stalls such as okonomiyaki, takoyaki, yakisoba, korokke (potato croquettes) or taiyaki (sea bream-shaped cake with sweet bean paste filling), and refreshments like shaved ice and draft beer, along with live music.
Dates: August 10-11, 2019
Time: 1 pm – 8 pm
Location: Shimokitazawa Azuma Dori shopping street
6. Citta Summer Festival Night Market
Inspired by the success of night markets in other Asian countries and around the world, the traditional Citta Summer Festival is evolving this year by adding a night market. While watching live performances, enjoy a cold beer and/or local sake and taste traditional dishes from Japan, such as grilled corn on the cob, yakitori, ikayaki (grilled squid) and yakisoba. Many dishes from overseas will also be available, like pizza, pasta, and kebab to name a few. Enjoy the sound of Japanese shamisen and drums with kakigori (shaved ice with syrup) to cool you down. The festival also includes incredible bamboo light installations. 2019 marks the premiere edition of La Citta Night Market and trust us, you won't want to miss it!
Dates: August 10-12, 2019
Time: 1 pm – 8 pm
Location: La Cittadella in Kawasaki
7. Koenji Awa Odori
Ready to party Japanese style? Don’t miss the Koenji Awa Odori: Tokyo’s summer festival.
Awaodori (a dance festival) comes from the Tokushima area and has history extending back over 400 years. Held every year at the end of August, the Koenji Awa Odori was first introduced in 1957 as a way to boost the shopping area throughout the town. Over the years, the festival has gained popularity and over 1 million spectators are expected each year. To satisfy the crowd, more than 10,000 dancers and musicians stream down the streets of Koenji. The procession takes place in the center of town, from Koenji Station up to Shin-Koenji Station. Since the festivities start at 5 pm, it is recommended to arrive earlier to pick the right viewing spot.
Dates: August 24-25, 2019
Time: 5 pm – 8 pm
Location: Koenji Station
8. Azabu Juban Noryo Festival
Mostly focused around Patio-dori Street and Zoshiki-dori Street, the neighborhood of Azabu Juban welcomes the Azabu Juban Noryo festival each year. For more than 40 years, the Azabu Juban Noryo festival has been a summer tradition that keeps on going, attracting more and more visitors each year. “Noryo” literally means “cool in the evening,” although this festival is all about food and that’s just how we like it! On the menu: typical matsuri food stalls with the traditional yakitori, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and other Japanese delicacies, but also typical food from other Japanese regions such as Hokkaido or Okinawa.
Dates: August 24-25, 2019
Time: 3 pm – 9 pm
Location: Azabu Juban Shopping Street
9. Golden Gai Noryousai
Each year, to celebrate the end of summer, the Shinjuku Golden Street Commercial Association organizes the Golden Gai Noryousai, translating to “Chill Out Festival.” The small bars of the narrow streets of Golden Gai open their doors and expand onto the pavement, to the great pleasure of tourists and locals! If you're in Tokyo in August, pick up a map and stroll down the alleys in search of the perfect drink!
Date: Late August 2019
Time: 3 pm – 10pm
Location: Golden Gai
10. Asakusa Samba Carnival
What is the best way to end the summer? With music! And the Asakusa neighborhood knows how to put on a show. Every year during the last weekend of August, Asakusa celebrates the end of summer with a Samba Carnival. The parade is held around Sensoji Temple and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors. Backed by the rhythm of the drums, 16 teams of dancers roam the streets with their float to compete in the samba dance competition. As the biggest samba carnival in Asia, Asakusa Samba Carnival follows in the footsteps of its carnival predecessor in Rio!
Date: August 31, 2019
Time: 2 pm – 6pm