What’s Happening in Tokyo this July? *Festival Edition*

What’s Happening in Tokyo this July? *Festival Edition*

Check out our handpicked list of Tokyo festivals happening this month

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July, and with that, the end of rainy season is coming. Let’s start enjoying some of the best things summer has to offer: a good festival, food stalls and fireworks. Take a kakigori or a bottle of Pocari Sweat, and lean back as we present the hottest Tokyo events for this month, featuring an exciting amount of Japanese festivals.

But before you go out make sure to prepare accordingly to avoid a heatstroke, you can read more about it in this article: Temperatures This Summer Will Again Be Super Hot

La Bachata Tokyo Festival

July 5 – July 7

la bachata festival flyer

We start off with a Latin summer vibe at La Bachata Tokyo Festival. No matter if you’re a beginner or pro, here you can find your share of like-minded people and dance the night away. This Tokyo offers various classes, show dances and party time for you to learn some new moves or show off and lose yourself in the music. If you still haven’t had enough dance time during the day and evening programs, you can join the afterparty and get the most out of your weekend.

Tickets from ¥8,000
The Zest Roppongi, Vort Motoazabu 3F
3-1-35 Motoazabu

Narita Gion Matsuri

July 5 – July 7

Most famously known for the international airport, Narita is a town that is said to be in festival mood all year round. Due to said airport, it’s easily accessible, allowing you to come by to join the festivities. Narita Gion Matsuri started as people joined Naritasan Shinsho-ji temple for the Narita Gion-e event. Today it’s a popular festival attracting more than 400.000 visitors a year and turning the historical townscape area around the temple into festival colors. Come and see as elementary school students in fancy costumes with ringing bells lead festival floats through the narrow streets around the temple. The powerful so odori (so dance) invigorated by the festival chants will make you want to move to the bouncy rhythms and engage in the ecstatic atmosphere. Make sure to stick until the evening to see the floats getting together and lighting up at the temple.

Friday: 1:30 pm – 9 pm 
Saturday: 9 am – 9 pm
Sunday: 1 pm – 10 pm
Free Admission
Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple
1 Narita, Narita-shi, Chiba

Tanabata Festival (Star Festival)

The Tanabata Festival originates from the Chinese Qixi Festival that came to Japan during the 8th century and is also celebrated in South Korea as Chilseok. The festival celebrates the meeting of two deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair), since according to legend they’re being separated by the Milky Way and only allowed to meet once a year during the time of the festival. Since this festival takes place at several locations, we present a selection so you can decide which one fits best for you.

Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival

July 5 – July 7

the colorful decoration and lively crowds of shonan hiratsuka tanabata festival

Visited by over 1.7 million people each year, the Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival is the biggest one in Kanto. Located in what is usually a peaceful beach resort in Kanagawa, it turns into a lively festivity with street vendors, colorful decorations and stunning performances. The official event takes place around the central shopping street near the station, so you can reach it in about 90-100 minutes by train from Tokyo. The trip is worth it since the event spans the whole day, giving you plenty of time to take a detour to the beach to cool off a little.

10 am – 8 pm (until 7 pm on July 7)
Free Admission
Hiratsuka Station
1 Takaracho, Hiratsuka-shi, Kanagawa-ken
tanabata-hiratsuka.com (JP)
pref.kanagawa.jp (ENG)

Shitamachi Tanabata Festival

July 4 – July 8

colorful decorations in kappabashi street facing tokyo skytree at shitamachi tanabata festival

Shitamachi is a kind of historical downtown between Asakusa and Ueno. The festival will take place around Asakusa’s Kappabashi Street and allow you to have festival food in a colorful light ambiance with Tokyo Skytree in the background. The main events happen on the weekend and include a parade on Saturday and street performances on Sunday. The area also houses many independent shops and small production factories, so it’s a good place to pick up traditional Japanese handicrafts if you need a little break from the festival.

10 am – 7 pm
Free Admission
Kappabashi Street
Asakusa Station Area
asakusa.gr.jp (ENG)
shitamachi-tanabata.com (JP)

Mobara Tanabata Festival

July 27 – July 28

mobara tanabata festival flyer with the silhouettes of two lovers facing each other

This festival in Mobara belongs to the biggest three in Kanto coming close to a million attendees. It takes place for the 70th time this year. The location might be a little remote but it is worth the trip – on top of enjoying traditional Japanese festival foods, this festival organizes the Mobara Awa Odori, an impressive dance parade with marvelous costumes outstanding amongst the other Tanabata festivals. During the last years, they also used to run a contest for the best decoration, so the festivities are bound to look stunning. In the evening, the event will wrap up with a naturally beautiful fireworks display.

July 27: 10 am – 9 pm
July 28: 10 am – 8 pm
Free Admission
Mobara Station
1 Machibo, Mobara-shi, Chiba
mobara-tanabata.com (JP)

Note: there are more Tanabata festivals taking place in August. If you missed out on the opportunity to visit one this month, make sure to check out next month’s article about events in Tokyo.

Iriya Asagao Matsuri (Iriya Morning Glory Festival)

July 6 – July 8

iriya asagao matsuri festival flyer and image of a blue morning glory
Credit for the right image: Abdulkadir ARSLAN

A must for all flower lovers, the biggest morning glory festival in all of Japan will go down again in the Iriya Kishimojin Temple area. Morning glory specialists will set up stalls to showcase and sell a vast array of morning glory varieties and mesmerize the surroundings with their lovely looks and smells. The festival dates back to the long tradition of breeding morning glories in the Edo period (1603-1867) when the first gardens were set up in Okachimachi and moved to Iriya in the second half of the 19th century. The festival draws about 400,000 visitors per year and fills up with Japanese festival food stalls, feeding you while you satisfy your hunger for plants.

12 am – 9 pm (from 5 pm on July 8)
Free Admission
Kishimojin Temple (also known as Shingenji Temple)
1-12-16 Shitaya, Taito-ku
asagao-maturi (JP)

Yebisu Garden Place: Foodie’s Picnic

June 7 – July 15

image of a yoga class at yebisu garden place

Calling out to foodies in Tokyo, Yebisu Garden Place will hold a communal picnic for family, friends and couples. Embrace the outdoors with a combination of food and film in a relaxing picnic atmosphere. There will be 19 films displayed in the central plaza but if you’d prefer to refresh yourself with a productive yoga session, you can participate in their morning and evening classes. Screenings will showcase a variety of food-related films from Japanese perspectives as well as foreign perspectives.

5 pm – 10 pm
Free Admission
Yebisu Garden Place
4-20 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku
gardenplace.jp (JP)

Kuki Chochin Matsuri (Lantern Festival)

July 12 & July 18

Meet the biggest lantern festival in the Kanto region. Dating back about 230 years, the festival is said to have been started after a volcanic eruption to recover from the disaster. Since then, the people have continued with the invigorating tradition. Seven festival floats with figurines based on mythical characters parade through the streets and as the daylight fades, the figurines make way for about 500 lanterns that line the sides of the floats. During the festivities, you can enjoy lantern-themed festival foods to give you strength as you make your way through the evening.

12:30 pm – 9 pm
Free Admission
Around Kuki Station’s West Exit
2-1-1 Kuki-chuo, Kuki-shi, Saitama
city.kuki.lg (JP)

Setagaya Firefly Festival

July 13 – July 14

firefly on a blade of grass
Credit: ruiruito

For everyone who missed the firefly festivals in June or didn’t want to go until the outskirts of Tokyo, here’s your chance. The Setagaya ward is organizing its own firefly festival which attracts around 25.000 visitors every year. The fireflies (hotaru in Japanese) will curiously fly around in a dark dome tent where you can see these little buggers illuminate the evening. The whole area around the tent will be celebrating the arrival of summer with food stalls, lanterns and a flower exhibition featuring a special kind of orchid resembling a heron. The stalls open around 4 pm and you can watch fireflies from 5 pm onwards. The Kamimachi Tenso Shrine in the same area will also have a bon odori (bon dance) festival from 7 pm, so make sure to get in your dancing shoes and lose yourself in the rhythm of the taiko drums.

4 pm – 9 pm
Free Admission
Boroichi Street
Around 1 Setagaya, Setagaya-ku
city.setagaya.lg (JP)

Tsukudajima Bon Odori Festival

July 13 – July 15

central scaffold of a bon odori festival
Credit: kanzilyou

Speaking of bon odori, come and see this Tokyo one-of-a-kind which differentiates itself with its Kansai tradition (region around Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto). The first settlers of Tsukudajima were migrants from Osaka who were said to have personally supplied the Shogun in Edo (historical Tokyo) with fish. Local children will perform the first half, succeeding this tradition, while adults will take over the latter half, showing off the Kansai touch of this bon odori. The festival has a cheerful and local atmosphere and showcases its distinct cultural background, making this a well-rounded experience. The festivities will go down around Tsukudajima 1-Chome on the northwest river-borne side of the island, about 7 minutes by foot from Tsukudajima Station. You will see a wide street with lanterns in all directions and a scaffold in the center.

6 pm – 9:30 pm
Free Admission
1-11-4 Tsukuda, Chuo-ku (good point for navigation)

Yasukuni Shrine Mitama Festival

July 13 – July 16

illuminated yasukuni shrine

This shrine is located in Chiyoda and annually hosts the Mitama festival. It hosts a lot of performances such as bon odori, festival floats and an exhibition of flower arrangements (July 12 – July 17). The shrine is best known for being decorated with several thousands of lanterns and beautiful Sendai Tanabata Ornaments. Food trucks with street food will keep you nourished throughout the cause of the event. Make sure to check the Awa Odori dance performances and float arrangements on July 15 16 starting from 8 pm.

5 pm – 9:30 pm
Free Admission
Yasukuni Shrine
3-1-1 Kudankita, Chiyoda-ku

Adachi Fireworks Festival

July 20

Flyer of Adachi Fireworks Festival

You aren’t that much of a dance, flower or costume person? You can just skip the festival part and get to the highlight at the Adachi Fireworks Festival. It is one of the most popular in Tokyo and attracts over 600.000 visitors each year. During an hour 13.000 rounds of fireworks will illuminate the night sky at the Arakawa River and fill you with excitement. The fireworks concepts and music are sure to draw you in and set you up for the finale of the show which is said to shine so bright, it looks like the sun is shining.

You can get to the festival by walking to the riverside from Kitasenju, Kosuge or Gotanno Station. Unfortunately, the seating area was limited in space and is already sold out, but you can still find a good spot to see if you come early enough. Bring a picnic blanket along. 

7:20 pm – 8:20 pm
Free Admission
Arakawa Riverbed (see here)

Zojoji Temple Bon Odori Festival

July 19 – July 20

image of zozoji temple with illuminated tokyo tower in the background
Credit: kanzilyou

If you haven’t had enough of bon odori or couldn’t make it to the other ones, don’t worry, there’s more. Bon odori is an essential part of Obon, the Japanese Buddhist custom of honoring the spirits of ancestors. In classical bon odori fashion the dance is very rhythmic and beginner-friendly, leading many visitors to find themselves circling around the central yagura tower with the crowd. Before the festival you can relax in the nearby Shiba Park and as everything comes to life at 6 pm, you can feast on traditional Japanese festival food. As nighttime comes on, the background of the festival will illuminate with the nearby skyline featuring the Tokyo Tower.

6 pm – 9 pm
Free Admission
Zojoji Temple
4-7-35 Shiba-Koen, Minato-ku
zojoji.or.jp (JP)

Kumagaya Uchiwa Festival

July 20 – July 22

kumagaya uchiwa festival floats in the crowd

If you’re looking for a cooler atmosphere, come to Kumagaya. What began as shops handing out uchiwa (fans) to shoppers instead of sekihan (red bean rice for small celebrations), turned into a fully-sized festival over time. The fans are not as crucial anymore today, but they still remain as a gimmick. They also make a great memory or souvenir and serve as a stylish cooling device for the summer. On top of the fans, you get the whole Japanese festival vibe –  food, floats and music. Another highlight will be the drumming competition which is supported by gongs, flutes and other instruments. Since Kumagaya is known for its high summer temperatures, make sure to spend some time at the river if you get too hot.

July 20: 6 pm – 8 pm
July 21 & 22: 1 pm – 9 pm
Near Kumagaya Station
uchiwamatsuri.com (JP)

Toyosu Summer Festival

July 20 – July 31

toyosu summer festival people dancing

A perfect blend of tradition and nostalgia characterizes Toyosu Summer Festival. Held in the port, the fresh breeze and water sprinklers will keep you cool. The festival features iconic festival food including spicy yakisoba, kakigori, and grilled meats. The festival grounds are dotted with booths offering classic games like yoyo fishing, target practice, and quoits, ensuring fun for the entire family. This nostalgic feel is further enhanced by a unique bon odori dance that fuses the traditional tunes with pop music, creating an immersive experience for people who aren’t into the old-fashioned traditional vibe. The dance will take place around the “sprinkled water” tower. The events are topped with different stage performances throughout the days. This engaging festival welcomes both adults and children, creating lasting summer memories and highlighting the joyful spirit of the Toyosu Summer Festival.

Urban Dock LaLaport Toyosu
Free Admission
July 20 – July 31 
3pm – 9pm
toyosunatumaturi.com (JP)

Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival

July 27

sumidagawa fireworks with tokyo skytree and the silhouettes of houses in the background
Credit: YMZK-photo (left), Hom_Aki (right)

The Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival is at the top of all the fireworks shows this summer. With a playtime of 90 minutes, 20.000 rounds of fireworks and about a million visitors, it’s one of the highlights this summer. Finding a good spot might be difficult as people start showing up early to wait until 6 pm when the main road’s traffic is blocked, so make sure to come early for a good spot. Aside from the riverbanks and Sumida Park (close but more crowded), we recommend bringing a picnic blanket and sitting in Shiori Park (slightly obstructed view but more breathing space, about 600m from Minamisenju Station) or the north part of Oyokogawa Water Park near Tokyo Skytree.

Other more creative ways include reserving at nearby restaurants with a view, hotels with a balcony or rooftop, friend’s apartments, Tokyo Skytree or river cruises. Note that reservations for these are required in advance and might be booked out or rather pricy. Other possible spots include walking across nearby bridges (e.g. Chuo-Ohashi Bridge), though you have to line up and aren’t allowed to keep standing on the bridge, or Tower Hall Funabori (reservations required (JP)). If you want to stay out of the bustle and are okay with a little more distance, the fireworks are big enough to be seen from high spots in neighboring wards. There is also a TV broadcast.

When you’re done finding a place, we recommend bringing some snacks and friends, a yukata for the atmosphere and whatever you need to survive the summer heat. This cheat sheet on road restrictions and pedestrian areas may help you find bathrooms and other handy spots in the area.

7 pm – 8:30 pm
Free Admission (seating sold out)
Taito Riverside Sports Center
1-1-10 Imado, Taito-ku
sumidagawa-hanabi.com (JP)