Annual Events Culture

Unveiling the Enchanting World of Festival (Matsuri part2)

Hi  how are you?   Today’s topic is “Matsuri(festival)” part 2 that I’d like to tell you more following Part 1.

How many festivals are held throughout the year in Japan?

It’s hard to say for sure how many festivals are held in Japan each year, but some estimates vary from 100,000 to 300,0001. That’s a lot of festivals!

Many festivals have their roots in traditional Chinese festivals, but have undergone extensive changes over time to have little resemblance to their original form.

Amabiki Sanrakuho ji (雨引山楽法寺) or in short, Amabiki Kannon (雨引観音) in Ibaraki-ken

Some are based around temples or shrines, others fireworks, and still others around contests where the participants sport loin cloths.

Festivals are often based around one event, with food stalls, entertainment, and carnival games to keep people entertained.

I’m not sure how Japan compares to other countries in the world in terms of the number of festivals, but I think Japan has a very rich and diverse festival culture that reflects its history and culture.

There are many possible reasons for why there are so many festivals throughout the year in Japan. According to some sources, Japanese festivals are held to:

★ Thank nature and God
★ Celebrate life
★ Foster a community
★ Explore their energy and let loose
★ Have a deeper understanding of Japan

Amabiki Sanrakuho ji (雨引山楽法寺)

Most festivals are held annually and celebrate the shrine’s deity or a seasonal or historical event.

During the festival, Japanese people believe that the spirits of their ancestors return to Earth to visit their relatives.

To welcome the spirits, many Japanese will return to their ancestral homes, clean graves, and leave food offerings at altars and temples.

Some festivals also have specific purposes, such as protecting the harvest, pacifying spirits and preventing or curing disease.

For example, the Nagoshi Taisai (grand festival) that you mentioned is held to purify oneself from misdeeds and misfortunes of the first half of the year.

People pass through a large hoop made of straw to cleanse themselves.

Festivals are an essential part of Japanese people’s lives. They create extraordinary memories and strengthen the bonds between people and nature.

Amabiki Sanrakuho ji (雨引山楽法寺)

Now, let’s list popular festivals in the order of winter, spring, summer, and autumn

Here are some examples of popular festivals in Japan according to the seasons:


Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival

Mid-January Nozawa Onsen, Nagano
Sapporo Snow Festival
Early part of February Sapporo, Hokkaido
Nagasaki Lantern Festival
Mid-February Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki-ken
Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival
Mid-March Omihachiman, Shiga-ken

Kanamara Matsuri

Beginning of April Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa-ken
Takayama Spring Festival

Mid-April Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture
Hakata Dontaku
Beginning of May Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka-ken
Sanja Matsuri
Mid-May Asakusa, Tokyo
Sanno Festival
Beginning of June Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Gion Matsuri

July Kyoto City, Kyoto
Fukuoka Hakata Gion Yamakasa

First half of July Fukuoka-shi Fukuoka-ken
Tenjin Matsuri

End of July Osaka
Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival
End of July Tokyo
Nebuta Matsuri
Beginning of August Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture
Kyoto Gozan no Okuribi
Mid-August Kyoto
Koenji Awa Odori
End of August Koenji, Tokyo
Awa Odori
Mid-Augsut Tokushima-shi, Tokushima-ken
Okinawa island-wide Eisa Festival
End of August Okinawa
Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri
Mid-September Kishiwada-shi, Osaka

Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival
Beginning of October Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture
Sawara Grand Festival
Early part of October Katori, Chiba-ken
Jidai Matsuri
on October 22 (rescheduled in case of rain) Kyoto
Tori no Ichi
November Yokohama, Kanagawa-ken
Karatsu Kunchi

Early part of November Karatsu city, Saga prefecture
Chichibu Night Festival

Early part of December Chichibu-shi, Saitama-ken

Please note that these are just a few examples, and there are countless other festivals celebrated throughout Japan during each season.

Finally, here’s a video of “Kyoto Festival: Jidai Matsuri”, have a fun with it.

About the author

古林 茂樹(Shigeki Furubayashi )