One major part of Japanese culture is its festivals. These events are thrown year-round and each one has its own meanings and customs. Many areas have their own version of the same festival and their own unique ones that you can’t find anywhere else. Finding out which festivals happen and at what time is easy to do, and the locals are always happy to have new people enjoy their culture.
Kawasaki Halloween Parade
This festival happens about a week before October 31st, and it is free to the public. You can enjoy the parade from the streets, or you can pay 1,000 yen and join in the parade yourself. People wear a large assortment of costumes and enjoy the day celebrating Halloween festivities. If you want to get a good viewing spot you will need to get there early. It is good for the whole family and is one of the many parades that happen near Tokyo.
Kawasaki Daishi Furen-Ichi
This festival starts in mid-July and runs for five days. It is held at the Daishi Temple in Kawasaki, and it features 900 kinds of wind chimes from 50 locations from across Japan. The Chime market is open to the public, and you can purchase any of the chimes (furin) you like. It usually opens at 10 am and closes at 6 pm, so make sure you plan your day accordingly.
It is a typical sight during the summer months, but one of the best fireworks displays in Kanagawa is the Kamakura Fireworks Festival. This fireworks display happens in early July. It isn’t as big as some of the other festivals in the neighboring areas, but it offers a more laid-back experience by allowing everyone to watch the display from the beachside. The one thing this festival offers is the view of the fireworks glistening off the sea as each one explodes. It is truly an experience that anyone would enjoy, and it beats the crowded festivals of other places.
Kanamara Penis Festival
This is one of Japan’s most interesting festivals and takes place every year in April at the Kanayama Shrine. It has become very popular over the years and draws huge crowds of foreigners. The festival is meant to promote healthy relationships, protection from sexual diseases, and healthy childbirth. You can find candies and vegetables shaped to look like penises and vaginas, and the mikoshi is also a large penis that is brought to and from the shrine. Once the parade session is finished you can enjoy musical entertainment and the many food stalls at the nearby Daishi Temple. It is recommended you get there very early as the line becomes long quickly, and it becomes crowded on the temple grounds as well.
This festival happens on the second Sunday in July. It is a famous local tradition that begins at Yasaka and Koyurugi Shrines. It is famous in many areas of Japan and draws many people from other places in the country. After the festival rituals are performed, the mikoshi is then paraded down the streets. It is accompanied by a tenno hayashi band, and they perform their chants and songs as the mikoshi is brought out to the sea. It is the best part of the entire precession and is a must-see for any visitors to Japan. Since it is so famous, it fills up quickly so make sure to plan ahead and get there early.
Atsugi Ayu Fireworks Festival
This large-scale fireworks festival happens in early August and is one of the biggest in the country. It averages an attendance of about 500,000 every year, and it showcases more than 10,000 fireworks. It is truly a sight to behold, and it helps that the loading dock and the viewing area are close to each other. It guarantees a spectacular view of the ensuing display. The finale is one thing of note as many people enjoy the cascade of sparks falling to the water. It is very difficult to find a decent spot so getting there very early is a must. There many restaurants to visit once the festivities are finished, so you can enjoy more leisure time after it is finished.
Odawara Cherry Blossom Matsuri
Every year in Japan, from March to April, the sakura trees begin to blossom and turn areas of the country into pink oceans of flower petals. This festival begins around the end of March and into the beginning of April at the Odawara Castle Park. It is ranked in the top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots, and the area boasts around 320 trees. There is a special tree there called “Weeping Cherry Tree of Choko-Zan Shotai Temple’, and it is said to be 340 years old. There are parades, food stalls, and other events to enjoy during the festival time. At night, they light lanterns that give a different feel and look to the area as well. It is open to the public, and it is a medium-sized event. You shouldn’t have trouble finding a spot to view the trees and enjoy the festivities.