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Tokyo's Top 10 Traditional Festivals in 2024: Highlights and Schedules

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From spring to autumn, there are various matsuri (traditional festivals) in Tokyo. Read on to learn about the most famous festivals in Tokyo in 2024, including their backstory, dates, and highlights.

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Enjoy Tokyo's Famous Festivals in 2024

Mitama Matsuri

Mitama Matsuri. Picture courtesy of PR Times

Traditional festivals known as matsuri are held from spring to autumn all around Japan. Many of these events are related to local shrines and have been regularly held for decades or centuries, becoming an essential feature of local communities.

This article introduces 10 famous traditional Japanese festivals held in Tokyo. From festivals with food stalls to lively festivals with portable shrines parading through the streets, there is something for everyone!

Tokyo's Famous Festivals

1. Kanda Matsuri (May)
2. Sanno Matsuri (June)
3. Sanja Matsuri (May)
4. Hachioji Matsuri (August)
5. Mitama Matsuri (July)
6. Kagurazaka Matsuri (July)
7. Azabu Juban Noryo Matsuri (August)
8. Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri (August)
9. Tori no Ichi (November)
10. Kurayami Matsuri (April and May)

1. Kanda Matsuri Festival

Kanda Matsuri

Photo by Pixta

Kanda Matsuri is a festival hosted by Kanda Myojin, a shrine located near Akihabara. It is also one of the three major festivals in Japan. During the Edo Period (1603-1868), it was one of the three major festivals in Edo (present-day Tokyo), protected by the Tokugawa shogunate. About 300,000 spectators gather at the current festivities, making it one of the largest events in Tokyo.

Two portable shrines called mikoshi and 45 floats parade the streets of Kanda district. Even the home appliance stores in Akihabara join in on the festivities. There will be stalls along the approach to the shrine, where visitors can enjoy Japanese delicacies, along with pop culture items from Akiba.

Since Kanda Matsuri and Sanno Matsuri are held alternately, the former will not be held in 2024. The next festival is scheduled for May 15, 2025.

2. Sanno Matsuri Festival

Sanno Matsuri is a festival hosted by Hie Shrine. It is the top event among the three major festivals in Edo and is held alternately with the Kanda Matsuri every other year.

Shinko Gyoretsu, a procession where a group of ujiko (*1) dressed in ancient aristocratic attire, starts from Hie Jinja and heads to Nihonbashi and Ginza, passing by the National Theater and the Sakashita Gate of the Imperial Palace. A Bon dance is also held at Tameike-Sanno Station, which draws a large number of participants.

While there are no food stalls at this festival, those following the procession can stop by eateries along the route.

*1: Residents who worship the guardian deity of the area and participate in the activities hosted by the shrine.

3. Sanja Matsuri Festival

Sanja Matsuri

© Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

Sanja Matsuri, hosted by Asakusa Shrine in Taito City, is a signature event in the early summer days. Also called Sanja, the event is very popular, with 100 portable shrines gathering in Asakusa on the festival's second day.

There are many food stalls at Sanja Matsuri, which are also popular among overseas visitors. While the main area is Nakamise-dori, with stalls cropping up nearby, Asakusa will be really bustling with visitors.

4. Hachioji Matsuri Festival

Hachioji Matsuri, known for its number of floats called dashi, is one of the major festivals in the Kanto region. The sight of 19 floats divided into two groups and parading in the area is truly impressive.

In recent years, floats with puppets, a popular style in the early days of the festival dating back to the Edo Period, have become trendy again.

Visitors should not miss "buttsuke," a duel of festival music set up close to each other by two floats. Food stalls will be set up along Koshu Kaido, adding to the festive mood.

5. Mitama Festival

Mitama Matsuri, hosted by Yasukuni Shrine, started in 1947. Since fallen soldiers of WWII are enshrined at Yasukuni, the event honors them with a large number of votive lanterns on the grounds.

During the four days of the festival, there will be kappore (a street performance that originated in the Edo Period), marching bands, the Awa dance, and the Nebuta float parade from Aomori. Also, nighttime visitors will be allowed to enter the courtyard, a normally restricted area.

While there are no food stalls in 2024, a few food trucks will be at the event.

6. Kagurazaka Festival

Kagurazaka Matsuri

Photo by Pixta

Kagurazaka Matsuri is held annually in the Kagurazaka district in Shinjuku.

This district, which has a long history as an amusement area, will be the stage for the Awa dance and hozuki market (*2). A moxibustion treatment called houroku-kyu will be offered at Bishamonten Zenkoku-ji, a temple in the middle area of Kagurazaka.

Kagurazaka eateries will be opening stalls along the streets so visitors can casually enjoy their dishes.

*2: The market handles pots of hozuki (husk tomato), a plant used as medicine, and hosts children's games as well.

7. Azabu Juban Noryo Matsuri Festival

Azabu Juban Noryo Matsuri is a lively festival held in the Azabu Juban district in Minato City. The local stores are the organizers, and eateries will set up food stalls.

While the district is usually quiet, with many stores handling luxury brands, it becomes lively during the event. Embassies located in nearby areas will also set up stalls, creating an international atmosphere.

8. Fukagawa Hachiman Festival

Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri

Photo by Pixta

Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri, an event hosted by Tomioka Hachiman Shrine, was one of the three major festivals in Edo, along with Kanda Matsuri and Sanno Matsuri. It started in the Edo Period to pray for the healthy growth of Tokugawa Ietsuna, who was destined to be a shogun.

This event is also called the mizu-kake matsuri (water throwing festival) with water splashing on the mikoshi, which parades near Kiba Park and Kiyosumi Garden.

Over 20,000 people participate in the festival, which draws about 500,000 spectators. Food stalls will be set up not only on the shrine grounds but also in the surrounding areas. This is an ideal opportunity to enjoy festival cuisine.

9. Tori no Ichi Festival

Tori no Ichi

Photo by Pixta

Tori no Ichi, held annually across Japan in November, is a festival to pray for good business.

In Tokyo, Ohtori Jinja in Asakusa is well known for this event, with a long history dating back to the Edo Period. Tori no Ichi will also be held at Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku City, Ohtori Shrine in Adachi City, and Ohkunitama Shrine in Fuchu City.


Kumade (ornamental rakes). Photo by Pixta

Kumade, which can be purchased at Tori no Ichi, is a talisman to pray for prosperity in business and happiness in the coming year. It is said that people should buy a kumade that is larger than the one bought last year.

Tori no Ichi will be held two or three times every year in November. It depends on the number of tori (rooster) days, according to Chinese zodiac calendar, which changes annually. There will be three tori days in 2024.

10. Kurayami Matsuri

Kurayami Matsuri

Photo by Pixta

Ohkunitama Shrine, located in Fuchu, hosts the Kurayami Matsuri in addition to the Tori no Ichi.

The shrine used to be the so-chinju (*3) of Musashi Province (*4). Kokufu (provincial office) was located where Fuchu now stands, and the kokushi (governor) was ordered to present swift horses to the Imperial Court.

Kurayami Matsuri started as a race to select such a horse. It has a history of over 1,000 years, and the night race is the highlight of the event.

*3: A shrine designated as a guardian deity of the area.
*4: An area that stretches from Saitama through Tokyo to Kawasaki and Yokohama.

Enjoy a Festival in Tokyo

Various festivals are held in Tokyo. They are rich in history and tradition, as some started over 1,000 years ago and are related to the Tokugawa shogunate.

Well-known events draw a vast number of domestic and international spectators, adding a lively atmosphere to the area.

Enjoy these festivities along with their food stalls!

Main image courtesy of PR Times

Written by

Lives in Tokyo. He writes scenarios for social games, audio dramas, and original works for manga. After breaking her wrist, she wears a kimono half the week. I enjoy casually pairing it with a hoodie or dress.
In August and December, it is an annual event to participate in Comiket and release doujinshi. I used to cosplay as anime characters! I have been engaged in creative and expressive activities for over 20 years.
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