Japan is a land of contrasts: towering mountains and tranquil seas, neon-lit cities and traditional villages. And each season brings its own unique charms.
Spring is a time for new beginnings, when Japan’s famous cherry blossoms explode into bloom. In summer, the heat is offset by cooling breezes and evening fireworks displays. Autumn ushers in festival season, with locals and visitors alike celebrating the harvest with food, drink, and dance. And in winter, Japan turns into a wonderland of snow-covered landscapes and cozy onsen (hot springs).
No matter when you visit, you’re sure to find something special happening in Japan. With so many festivals to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to Japan’s top festivals. Whether you’re looking for a traditional event or something more modern, we’ve got you covered.
Cherry Blossom Season
Spring in Japan is all about one thing: Cherry Blossoms Season. This is the time of year when the country comes alive with pink and white blossoms, as people flock to parks and gardens to admire the beauty. Hanami (cherry blossoms viewing) parties are a popular tradition, where friends and family gather under the trees to enjoy food and drinks while they take in the view.
If you’re planning on visiting Japan during Cherry Blossoms Season, be sure to check out our guide to the best places to see them. You won’t want to miss out on this beautiful sight!
If you’re in Japan during Golden Week, you’re in for a treat. This is a series of holidays that fall in a row, and during this time, the whole country basically shuts down for a week-long celebration.
There are all sorts of festivities to enjoy, ranging from traditional events to modern concerts and festivals. You can catch a glimpse of Japan’s history and culture by attending one of the many samurai processions or watching a graceful tea ceremony. Or you could join the locals in enjoying some modern entertainment, like the lively Awa Odori dancers or the mesmerizing Yosakoi parade.
No matter what you choose to do, Golden Week is definitely an experience you won’t want to miss.
One of the most important holidays in Japan is Obon, which is celebrated in the summer. This is a time when families come together to remember their ancestors and pay their respects. There are traditional dances and food, and it’s a really special time to connect with your loved ones.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Japan during Obon, be sure to check out one of the local festivals. They’re a lot of fun and a great way to experience Japanese culture. My favorite is the Awa Odori dance festival in Tokushima Prefecture. It’s such a vibrant and energetic celebration!
Autumn Leaves Season
If you’re visiting Japan in autumn, you’ll be able to catch the tail end of the country’s busiest festival season. But even if you miss out on the big ones, there’s still plenty to enjoy.
One of the best things about autumn in Japan is the changing leaves. The country comes alive with color, and there are plenty of scenic spots where you can enjoy the view. Some of the most popular spots include Mount Takao, Rikugien Garden, and Fukuoka Castle.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Tokyo during autumn, don’t miss out on the chance to see the city’s famous autumn leaves. The best spot for this is probably Sumida Park, which is located right next to Tokyo Skytree. The park is beautiful at any time of year, but it’s especially stunning in autumn when the leaves are at their peak.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
No trip to Japan would be complete without celebrating the New Year, and there are a few different ways to do it. For starters, you can join in the fun at Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, which is where people dress up in all sorts of costumes and party hard until the early hours of the morning.
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, then head to temples across the country where they ring bells 108 times at midnight. This is said to cleanse away 108 human desires, which sounds like a pretty good way to start the year!
Of course, no matter how you choose to celebrate, you’ll want to make sure you try out some of the delicious Japanese New Year’s food. One of the most popular dishes is soba noodles, which are eaten to promote a long life, while kagami mochi is a type of rice cake that’s often given as a gift. Learn more about Japan holidays and festivals here.
With so many amazing festivals to choose from, it can be hard to decide which ones to attend on your trip to Japan. This guide covers some of the most popular festivals, from cherry blossom season in the spring to the autumn leaves in the fall. No matter what time of year you visit, you’re sure to find a festival that’s perfect for you.