10 Events and Things to Do in Japan in May 2024

Writer's profile
Writer’s profile

Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture, and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.

This post may contain some affiliate links. When you click through and make a purchase we may receive some commission, at no extra cost to you.

Japan in May is a dreamy experience for foreign travelers, with colorful fresh greenery delighting the eyes. This is the season when Japan’s fascinating blend of tradition and innovation can be fully appreciated, and a number of fascinating events are on the horizon. Gorgeous festivals are held all over the country, an enthusiastic atmosphere that attracts visitors. In addition, during Golden Week, tourist attractions and event venues come alive and visitors can enjoy Japanese culture and scenery to their heart’s content. The beauty of nature is also spectacular, and through outdoor activities, visitors can enjoy the stunning scenery that only May can offer. In this article, we will introduce you to the top events and activities filled with the charms of Japan.

1. Celebrate Children’s Day

May 5 is a special day in Japan’s Golden Week. This is because it coincides with the Dragon Boat Festival and Children’s Day, a national holiday. It is an important day to pray for the healthy growth of children, and on this day, carp streamers flying in the sky and eating Kashiwa Mochi (rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves) can be seen in homes and public places all over Japan. On the day of Children’s Day, families, especially those with children, gather together and have a good time. Houses are filled with happy smiling faces as carp streamers, filled with wishes for the future of children, dance in the wind.

2. Hakata Dontaku Festival

フェレス, CC BY-SA 2.1, via Wikimedia Commons

For two days on May 3 and 4 every year, the streets of Hakata are filled with people of all ages, men and women, dressed in costumes of their own choosing, pounding shamoji and parading through the town in a grand parade festival, known as the Hakata Dontaku Festival. This festival is said to have its origins in a traditional musical performance that began in Hakata about 840 years ago. During the festival, the entire town is colored in Dontaku colors. More than 2 million people, including visitors from all over Japan, gather to enjoy this festival every year. The parade is a great opportunity to experience the history and culture of Hakata as men and women of all ages dance to the music and smiles abound.

Official Website: Hakata Dontaku Festival

3. Spring Rose Festival

Kyu Furukawa Gardens Spring Rose Festival

Located in Kita-ku, Tokyo, the Old Furukawa Garden is a famous landmark famous for its stately Western-style buildings and Western-style garden. Especially in spring, in May, the garden is decorated with 200 roses of about 100 varieties in full bloom. When the roses are in full bloom, their fragrance wafts throughout the garden, attracting visitors. This is the time of year when the charm of the Old Furukawa Garden is at its best, as many tourists visit to admire the beautiful roses. The Western-style buildings harmonize with the roses, and the magnificent scenery that enhances the beauty of the roses is an ideal place to take immaculate pictures. A photo with the beauty of roses in the background will be a memorable one for foreign visitors to Japan. Please come and enjoy the beauty of roses in bloom in this wonderful garden.

Official Website: Spring Rose Festival

4. Matsumae Cherry Blossom Festival

Matsumae Castle

If you have come to Japan but have missed the cherry blossom season, don’t worry! Matsumae Park in Hokkaido is one of the 100 most beautiful cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan, with 10,000 cherry trees of about 250 varieties, ranging from “early bloomers” to “late bloomers,” in full bloom over a period of about a month. This wonderful cherry blossom festival is also held during the Golden Week holiday period, so you can still enjoy the magnificent cherry blossoms even if you visit in May. In addition, the fantastic and romantic sight of cherry blossoms lit up at night attracts visitors to the area. For those who want to take the time to appreciate the beauty of the cherry blossoms, Matsumae Park is a place not to be missed.

Official Website: Matsumae Cherry Blossom Festival (Only in Japanese) 

5. See Beautiful Wisteria

kawachi wisteria garden fukuoka

If you visit Japan in May, be sure to enjoy the wisteria flowers that are in full bloom. Wisteria is a noble flower with beautiful purple and pink blossoms and a noble fragrance. Wisteria flower tunnels and other spectacular spots are scattered throughout Japan. For those who wish to witness the spectacular scenery, checking out wisteria flower spots throughout Japan is definitely recommended. Enjoy the beauty and fragrance of wisteria flowers and appreciate the charm of Japan’s natural beauty to your heart’s content.

6. Enshu Hammamatsu Flying Dragon Festival

The Enshu Hamamatsu Festival, held annually in May or June in Hamana-ku, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka, is a grand festival set along the majestically flowing Tenryu River. At the festival site, a 60-meter-long flying dragon is hoisted into the sky as a symbol associated with the dragon god, the god of water. The finale of the festival is the Niagara Fireworks display, which thrills the audience. In addition, the festival features fire dances, taiko drumming events, handheld fireworks, and other highlight events. Not only can visitors enjoy overwhelming performances and a powerful fireworks show, but they can also experience Japanese tradition and culture firsthand. The Enshu Hamamatsu Flying Dragon Festival is a must-see event for international visitors to Japan seeking a unique Japanese festival experience.

Information website: Enshu Hamamatsu Flying Dragon Festival

7. Aoi Matsuri

May in Kyoto is the eagerly awaited time of year when Shimogamo-jinja Shrine and Kamigamo-jinja Shrine are abuzz with excitement and the Aoi Matsuri Festival is held! Aoi Matsuri is one of the “three major festivals in Kyoto” and reaches the peak of its popularity along with Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri. During this festival, over 500 costumed participants form a procession adorned with hollyhock leaves, dressed in stately costumes that seem to transport them back in time to the Heian Period dynasty. The procession from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to Kamigamo Shrine via Shimogamo Shrine is nothing short of spectacular. The atmosphere of Aoi Matsuri cannot be described in a few words! On the day of the festival, Kyoto is transformed into a city full of history and tradition, and the excitement is as if you have wandered into a different world.

8. Fuji Shibazakura Festival

Fuji Shibazakura Festival, held at the foot of Mt. Fuji, Yamanashi, is the perfect showcase for a truly spectacular spectacle. One of the highlights of the festival is the contrast between the approximately 500,000 Shibazakura plants that adorn the grounds and the beautiful snow-covered Mt.Fuji. The carpet of turf cherry blossoms in shimmering shades of pink creates a fantastic beauty that makes you feel as if you have wandered into a dream. Fuji, this spectacle, along with the grandeur of Mt. Fuji, will be a memory that will stay with you forever. The Fuji Shibazakura Festival continues to attract visitors and is an event that best represents the beauty of nature and the season in Japan.

Official Website: Fuji Shibazakura Festival

9. Go to a Green Tea Plantation

In Japan, green tea reigns supreme as the ultimate beverage of choice, capturing the hearts and palates of millions with its refreshing taste and cultural significance. There are many famous tea plantations scattered throughout Japan, and the picking of new tea leaves begins in May, when the leaves are freshly green and beautiful. And some tea plantations offer visitors a tea-picking experience. This is a luxurious experience that will refresh your mind and body while enjoying the fresh aroma of tea leaves. During a tea picking experience at a tea plantation, visitors can deeply appreciate the charm of Japanese tea through the process of plucking fresh tea leaves by hand. If you come to Japan during this season, a tea-picking experience is a wonderful opportunity to experience Japan’s beautiful nature and traditional culture.

10. Go see a Sumo Tournament

The appeal of sumo, Japan’s national sport, is too immense for words! The power of the fierce clashes between the giant wrestlers (Rikishi) on the ring is truly jaw dropping. The passionate battles, in which victory or defeat is decided instantaneously, are like a battle of human life forces colliding with each other. In recent years, more and more tours allow visitors to watch live sumo matches, or even get close and watch them practice! This is the very essence of Japanese sports culture! By watching a live sumo match, you can feel the passion and pride of the Japanese people. The passionate fights between these powerful rikishi are sure to enchant you and set your heart aflame. If you are a visitor to Japan you are encouraged to experience the passion of Japanese sumo! By watching a live sumo match, you will experience a moment filled with Japanese tradition and energy. Come and share this passionate experience with us!

Official Website: Japan Sumo Association 

Related sumo tours are here

In this article, we have introduced some of the fascinating events and activities that color the gorgeous Japanese month of May, so what seems like the most fun to you? May in Japan is truly a season of colorful festivals and traditional events. In the midst of all this, you can spend luxurious time enjoying the atmosphere of tasteful festivals and the beauty of nature. We hope you have found something you would like to participate in, and we encourage you to visit Japan during this wonderful season for an exciting experience. We are sure that your May adventure in Japan will leave a deep impression on your heart.

Japan Wonder Travel Tours 

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help you organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are visiting, our knowledgeable and friendly English speaking guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need some help! 

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Drink Tour
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo and try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake with one of our friendly and knowledgeable English speaking guides! 

tsukiji tour

Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

Mt. Fuji Day Trip Bus Tour from Tokyo
Experience the breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji by visiting the highlights of the area on our guided sightseeing bus tour! Departing from Shinjuku in central Tokyo, you can travel comfortably to all of the best spots in the area by bus.

mount fuji chureito pagoda

Kyoto Private Full Day Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see the highlights of Kyoto in just one day and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and Japan as a whole.

Follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and TikTok for more travel inspiration. Or tag us to get featured!

Happy traveling!

Stay informed of the best travel tips to Japan, the most exciting things to do and see, and the top experiences to have with the Japan Wonder Travel Newsletter. Once every two weeks we will introduce you to our latest content.

Other Articles you Might be Interested in:


Sponsored links
Share this article on your social media
Copied title and URL