Upcoming Events in Japan

Japan's calendar is replete with events that celebrate its rich tapestry of culture, nature, and innovation. From the pink blossoms of spring to the vivid colours of autumn, each season unfolds with its own festivities. Here’s a curated list of ten must-experience events happening from March to December 2024 in Japan, offering visitors a deep dive into the country’s diverse cultural landscape.

March: Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing)

  • Location: Nationwide, especially in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka
  • Description: The bloom of cherry blossoms across Japan marks the beginning of spring. Hanami parties under the sakura trees are a quintessential Japanese experience, symbolising the beauty and transience of life.

April: Takayama Spring Festival

  • Location: Takayama, Gifu Prefecture
  • Description: Held in the picturesque town of Takayama, this festival is celebrated with stunningly decorated floats paraded through the streets, traditional performances, and lantern displays, showcasing Japan’s craftsmanship and cultural heritage.

May: Sanja Matsuri

  • Location: Asakusa, Tokyo
  • Description: One of Tokyo's most vibrant and lively festivals, Sanja Matsuri features processions, traditional music, and dance, centred around the Senso-ji Temple. It’s a celebration of community spirit and devotion.

July: Gion Matsuri

  • Location: Kyoto
  • Description: Spanning the entire month, Gion Matsuri is famous for its grand parade of floats, traditional costumes, and the lively atmosphere that takes over Kyoto, offering a glimpse into the city's ancient customs.

August: Aomori Nebuta Festival

  • Location: Aomori, Aomori Prefecture
  • Description: A vibrant summer festival known for its massive nebuta (illuminated float) parades depicting Japanese gods, historical figures, and mythical creatures, accompanied by dancers and musicians.

September: Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

  • Location: Kishiwada, Osaka Prefecture
  • Description: This thrilling festival is famous for its danjiri (wooden floats) races through the streets, showcasing the skill and bravery of the teams as they navigate tight corners at high speeds.

October: Jidai Matsuri

  • Location: Kyoto
  • Description: Known as the Festival of the Ages, Jidai Matsuri features a procession of over 2,000 people dressed in accurate historical costumes from various periods of Japanese history, celebrating Kyoto’s rich past.

November: Tori-no-Ichi

  • Location: Asakusa, Tokyo, and other locations
  • Description: Held at Otori Shrines and Washi Shrines, this festival is known for the sale of lucky rakes (kumade) that bring prosperity and happiness, accompanied by lively markets and food stalls.

December: Chichibu Night Festival

  • Location: Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture
  • Description: Recognised as one of Japan’s top three festivals for floats, the Chichibu Night Festival dazzles with its float parades, traditional music, and a spectacular fireworks display.

December: Osaka Great Santa Run

  • Location: Osaka
  • Description: A fun and festive event where thousands dress as Santa Claus and participate in a charity run through the city, spreading holiday cheer and supporting good causes.

Year-Round: Sumo Tournaments

  • Location: Held in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka
  • Description: Experience the traditional sport of sumo by attending one of the grand tournaments (basho) held throughout the year, a unique opportunity to witness Japan’s national sport up close.

From the serene beauty of cherry blossoms to the adrenaline-pumping excitement of festivals, Japan's calendar is packed with events that offer insights into its soul. Whether you're drawn by the allure of traditional ceremonies or the vibrant energy of contemporary celebrations, Japan in 2024 promises a journey filled with rich experiences and unforgettable memories.