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 of Japan and got her Master’s degree in March, 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.
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All around the world, Spring is a wonderful season when many beautiful flowers bloom after the cold winter. When you think about festivals in Japan, you probably think of the big festivals during summer and winter, but there are lots of great festivals held in spring as well. Cherry blossom festivals and other spring-related events are held all over Japan for locals and tourists to enjoy. In this article we will introduce 12 festivals all over Japan that you can enjoy during springtime.
- 1. Jindaiji Daruma Doll Fair
- 2. Otaue Rice Planting Festival
- 3. Beppu Hattou Onsen Matsuri
- 4. Ushibuka Haiya Festival
- 5. Aoi Matsuri
- 6. Nagahama Hikiyama Festival
- 7. Hakata Dontaku
- 8. Kanda Matsuri
- 9. Naha Hari Festival
- 10. Seihaku Festival
- 11. Sanja Matsuri
- 12. Nikko Toshogu Shrine Annual Grand Spring Festival
- Other articles you might be interested in
1. Jindaiji Daruma Doll Fair
Jindaiji Daruma Market is a festival held every year on March 3rd and 4th in Chofu, Tokyo, and is considered one of the “Three Great Daruma Markets in Japan”, along with Bishamonten Taisai Daruma Market in Shizuoka prefecture and Takasaki Daruma Market in Gunma prefecture. The festival has been going on since the Edo period and is said to have a history of over 300 years already. About 100,000 people flock to this Daruma Market at Jindaiji Temple every year! Inside the temple, there are about 300 stores selling daruma dolls of various sizes, and you can expect it to be crowded. If you like daruma, Jindaiji Daruma Market is a must visit for you!
Dates: March 3rd and 4th every year
Official Website: Jindaiji Daruma Doll Fair
2. Otaue Rice Planting Festival
Held every year on June 14th at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, the Otaue Rice Planting Festival is a special springtime tradition in Osaka. The word “Otaue (御田植え)” means rice planting, which is regarded as a very important event for Japan as a whole, with rice being the staple food. The Otaue Rice Planting Festival at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is famous for being bigger than other rice planting festivals held nationwide, with many people from all over joining every year. In addition to the actual planting of rice, there are many other events going on such as the dance of the eight shrine maidens that is also very popular among visitors.
Date: June 14th every year
Official Website: Otaue rice planting festival
3. Beppu Hattou Onsen Matsuri
Beppu Hattou Onsen Matsuri is a spring festival held every year on April 1st, as well as the first weekend of April. This festival takes place at Beppu Hot Springs in Beppu City, Oita Prefecture. The festival started as a way to celebrate the richness of Beppu’s famous hot springs. During the festival many of the city’s hot springs are open to the public for free, not to mention there are many other events such as portable shrines being carried in the shopping districts. This is a great hot spring festival for both locals and visitors alike!
Dates: April 1st – 3rd
Official Website: Beppu Hattou Onsen Matsuri
4. Ushibuka Haiya Festival
Ushibuka Haiya Festival in Amakusa City, Kumamoto prefecture, is a traditional Japanese festival held every year in mid April. It is said that the name “Haiya” comes from the south wind used to move sailing boats, which was once called “Hae no Kaze (ハエの風)” in Kyushu. Nowadays, the festival is big and impressive with wonderful parades going on throughout the city!
Dates: April 16th – 17th
*We will update the dates for 2023 when it’s officially announced
Official Website: Ushibuka Haiya Festival
5. Aoi Matsuri
If you’re looking for a taste of Japan’s Heian period, Kyoto‘s Aoi Matsuri is just what you are looking for! This festival is held every year in mid May at Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine. People dress up in Heian clothing and walk along an eight kilometer long road, as if they have slipped back in time to the Heian period. If you like the atmosphere of the Heian period or are just interested in Japanese history in general, you should definitely give this festival a visit!
Date: May 15th every year
Festival Information: Aoi Matsuri
6. Nagahama Hikiyama Festival
Nagahama Hikiyama Festival is a spring festival in Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture. One of the main attractions of the festival is “The Children’s Kabuki”, performed on floats by boys between the ages of 5 and 12. Their performances are said to be so amazing that even the adults are in awe!
Dates: April 9th – 17th
Festival Information: Nagahama Hikiyama Festival
7. Hakata Dontaku
Hakata Dontaku is a festival held annually on May 3rd and 4th in Hakata, Fukuoka prefecture. It is said to have a history of about 830 years. There is a ceremony held at the harbor as well as a dance performance that you can’t miss. Of course, there is also a huge parade that will keep you entertained for the greater part of two days! The parade and dance performances along with the vibrant costumes will surely be a memorable experience for you.
Dates: May 3rd and 4th every year
Official Website: Hakata Dontaku
8. Kanda Matsuri
Kanda Matsuri is a major festival held at Kanda Myojin, which can be reached on foot from Ochanomizu Station. It is one of the three major festivals of Edo (Tokyo), along with the Sanno Festival and the Fukagawa Festival. This festival is special in the way that the events of the festival change every year depending on whether it is held on an even or odd numbered year. When the festival is held on an odd-numbered year, it is called “Honmatsuri (本祭)” and is held in a very lavish manner. On the contrary, when the festival is held on an even-numbered year, it is called “Kage Matsuri (陰祭)”, which is shorter and less grand than the odd-numbered years. However there is still a lot going on like food stalls you can eat at and Noh plays you can enjoy watching. If you like big festivals, Kanda Myojin on an odd-numbered year is great. If you prefer a smaller scale festival, an even-numbered year might be the better option for you!
Dates: May 9th – 15th
Official Website: Kanda Matsuri
9. Naha Hari Festival
Okinawa, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan, also has a big festival celebrating spring, called the Naha Hari Festival. It is usually held for three days every year during the Golden Week holidays. The biggest event is the “Hon-Bari”. In this event, people from Naha, Kume, and Tomari dress up in traditional Okinawan clothing and get on a boat and race out on the sea. It is truly an amazing sight to see as the entire venue is packed with people fired up and cheering them on!
Dates: May 3rd – 5th
Official Website: Naha Hari
10. Seihaku Festival
The Seihaku Festival is a famous festival held at Ōtokonushi Shrine in Nanao City, Ishikawa prefecture. There are three massive floats that bring excitement to the local community. Of the three, there is one called “Dekayama (でか山)” which is a huge float that is 12 meters high, weighs 20 tons, and its wheels have a diameter of 2 meters, making it the largest float in all of Japan! This festival is a lot of fun for everyone if you ever have the chance to make it out to Ishikawa prefecture in the spring!
Dates: May 3rd – 5th
Official Website: Seihaku Festival
11. Sanja Matsuri
Asakusa’s Sanja Festival is a three-day festival held every year on the third Saturday of May, but starts on that Friday and ends on Sunday. This festival takes place in Asakusa, where the Edo atmosphere still remains strong. It attracts about 1,800,000 people every year! There are portable shrines carried throughout the Asakusa area, which eventually form a parade along Nakamise Street. You won’t want to miss out on this three day event. It is one of the most exciting times of the year to visit Asakusa!
Dates: May 20th – May 21st
Official Website: Sanja Matsuri
12. Nikko Toshogu Shrine Annual Grand Spring Festival
Nikko is one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Tochigi prefecture and Nikko Toshogu, the symbol of Nikko, holds a spring festival every year. The highlight of this festival is the “Yabusame Shinji” (流鏑馬神事), archery on horseback, and “Hyakumonozoroe Senninmusyagyōretu (百物揃千人武者行列), a parade of a thousand people, which is a reenactment of the parade of Tokugawa Ieyasu when he was reburied in Nikko from his original burial place at Kunouzan in Shizuoka prefecture. Hundreds of people dressed as samurai and aristocrats make their way to the shrine as a large group. This festival is loved by the locals as it holds a deep feeling and history of Japanese history.
Dates: May 17th and 18th every year
Official Website: Nikko Toshogu Shrine Annual Grand Spring Festival
With Spring festivals all over Japan from all the way up north to way down south, they are all unique in their own way and each make for a great experience. That being said, did you find one you want to visit? In recent years, a number of festivals have been canceled due to COVID-19, and others have been held on a much smaller scale, so be sure to check the official website before you visit them this year. Spring is an amazing time of year when the weather is perfect, not too hot and not too cold. Joining a festival this time of year is always fun and exciting for all, and who knows you may even see some cherry blossoms while you’re at it!