Niigata's Murakami City: Enjoy Fun Events, Sightseeing, and Local Cuisine!

Japanese Summer Festivals and Events: From June to August

This service includes sponsored advertisements.
article thumbnail image

There are many traditional summer events and festivals in Japan. This article features festivities held from June to August. If you have the chance, we recommend experiencing these seasonal customs in Japanese culture firsthand!

Latest update :

While summers in Japan seem to be getting hotter each year, there are many reasons to look forward to this season. For example, July 1 is the day of "yamabiraki," a Shinto ritual announcing the start of the climbing season on various mountains, including Mt. Fuji.

Be sure to look for other festivals and events scheduled from June to August.

Book the JR Pass for Whole Japan (7, 14, or 21 Days)

Events in June

Tsuyu-iri (Start of the Rainy Season)

Japanese Summer Festivities and Events: From June to August

Tsuyu-iri, the start of the rainy season, is usually around June 10 in the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo. This time is defined by a lot of rain and the ripening of plum trees. Marking the start of tsuyu (rainy season), this is the rainiest season of the year and lasts about a month.

This period may not be ideal for sightseeing. However, there are some days when the weather clears up (tsuyu-bare). This includes kara-tsuyu, or days where there is not a lot of rainfall.

Don't forget to check the daily weather report since temperatures sometimes drop, which is called tsuyu-zamu.

Events and Festivals in July

Tanabata, the Summer Star Festival

Tanabata is a unique Japanese event that first originated from Chinese folklore and later became an Imperial court ceremony. It is based on the romantic legend of Hikoboshi and Orihime (*1), star-crossed lovers separated by the Milky Way (*2). The two were allowed to see each other only once a year on July 7, when a bridge forms across the stars.

Japanese Summer Festivities and Events: From June to August

In Japanese households, family members write their wishes on tanzaku (rectangular piece of paper), hang it on bamboo branches, and look up to the stars.


Around August 7, which is July 7 on the lunar calendar, various Tanabata Festivals are held nationwide. This includes the Sendai Tanabata Festival, famous for its gorgeous decorations, and Tanabata Edoro Festival in Akita, which displays over a hundred drawings illuminated by lanterns.

*1: Hikoboshi is said to be Altair in the Aquila constellation, and Orihime is Vega in the Lyra constellation. The two stars, along with Deneb in the Cygnus constellation, make up the Summer Triangle.
*2: A broad band of stars that are visible during the summer and autumn in Japan.

Gion Festival

Gion Matsuri is a traditional festival held at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto, which dates back to the 9th century. This prominent Japanese festival starts on July 1 and lasts for a month.

Japanese Summer Festivities and Events: From June to August

The main attraction is the parade of yamaboko floats, which are registered on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The parades are divided into the Saki Matsuri (July 17) with 23 floats and Ato Matsuri (July 24) with 10 floats.

The yamaboko also appears in various shrine rituals. The floats used in the Gion Festival display riches owned by local families and companies. These assets have a long history, so the floats are regarded as museums on wheels.

Sumida River Fireworks Festival

Sumida River Fireworks Festival

While there are many fireworks festivals from July to August, the Sumida River Fireworks Festival is one of the largest in Japan. It is usually held on the banks of the Sumida River, near Asakusa and Mukojima, on the last Saturday of July. You can expect a huge turnout of excited spectators.

The festival starts around 19:00 and ends at about 20:30. Approximately 20,000 fireworks are launched from the first site between Sakura Bridge and Kototoi Bridge. The second site is located between Komagata Bridge and Umaya Bridge. A creative fireworks competition is also held at the first site, so spectators can view unique works.

In 2023, the Sumida River Fireworks Festival will be held on July 29.

Doyo no Ushi no Hi (Day of the Ox)

Japanese Summer Festivities and Events: From June to August

This Japanese custom involves eating unagi (eel), which is rich in protein and vitamins, on Doyo no Ushi no Hi (Day of the Ox). This holiday originates from the ancient Chinese calendar where it was established as a measure to cope with the summer heat, apparently.

The eel is grilled with a sweet and salty sauce using a recipe called kabayaki. Then the eel is placed on top of piping-hot rice.

The date for Doyo no Ushi no Hi is determined based on the lunar calendar, so it changes yearly on the solar calendar. It falls on two dates in 2022. The first (Ichi no Ushi) is on July 30, and the second (Ni no Ushi) is on August 4. All the eel restaurants will be in full swing on those days.

Events and Festivals in August

Awa Odori Dance Festival

Awa Odori is a traditional dance originating from Tokushima. It has a history spanning around 400 years. While dance festivals are held across Japan in the summer, the Awa Odori in Tokushima City is the largest of its kind.

Awa Odori

The festival is held annually for four days from August 12 to the 15th. During this period, 1.3 million spectators gather in the central area of Tokushima City. They are treated to a view of a hundred thousand dancers before their eyes.

There are many dance groups called ren, performing their own dances in original uniforms. Additionally, the number of visitors from abroad joining the dances is on the rise.

Kyoto Gozan Okuribi

Kyoto Gozan Okuribi

The Kyoto Gozan Okuribi is a Buddhist event held annually on the night of August 16. Five bonfires are lit on mountains surrounding Kyoto City to send off the spirits of ancestors.

The fires are lit from 20:00 in the order of Daimonji, Myoho, Funagata, Hidari Daimonji, and Toriigata. The flames then illuminate the night sky for 30 minutes.

This is an updated version of an article originally published in December 2018.
Main image by Pixta

Written by

The MATCHA editorial department. Our articles feature useful travel information for visitors to Japan, from how-to guides to recommended places to visit.

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting. Some of our articles contain affiliate links. We kindly ask our readers to exercise careful judgement when making a purchase or booking a service online.

Top Articles

There are no articles in this section.