Japan is famous for its magnificent festivals all year round. There are a lot of exciting August events. It promises a summer experience filled with vibrant colors, exceptional performances, and many cultural spectacles.
These festivals are held all over the country. So you must be lucky to be in the right spot at the right time. But let us make it easier for you to run into one of these vibrant celebrations. Here is an overview of five of the best Japanese festivals in Japan in August 2023!
The Aomori Nebuta Festival is a Japanese lantern festival held annually during the first week of August in Aomori City. Coloring the streets of Aomori every summer, the Aomori Nebuta festival is one of the three great festivals of Tohoku. This week-long Japanese matsuri (festival) brings you a lot of entertainment. Every year more than three million visitors gather for the festivities from all over Japan and abroad to attend. It’s one of many August events that people enjoy.
The main feature of this spectacular festival is the daily parade of over twenty distinctive massive illuminated nebuta (floats). The nebuta masters work on them all year; this festival is their time to shine finally. They are based on kabuki (Japanese performance art) play or mythical tales, dancers, taiko drums, and musicians. These floats mesmerize spectators with fun and dynamic movements, including spins and close interactions with the audience.
Traditional music is also an essential part of the atmosphere of the Nebuta festival. The haneto (jumping dancers) hop and bounce down the street to the beat of the music. And the good news is that anyone can be a haneto dancer, as long as you wear a haneto costume! A breathtaking fireworks event happens at the port as a grand finale. Brace yourself for iconic performances, vivid colors, and an electrifying atmosphere that will captivate your senses!
The Comiket, also known as the Comic Market, takes place twice a year at Tokyo Big Sight in summer and winter, making it one of Japan’s most significant August events. Its origins can be traced back to the 1970s when many manga fans felt frustrated by the lack of diversity and the challenges faced by new authors.
So the event’s focus is doujinshi (independently created and published manga). Given the thousands of amateur and professional manga artists in Japan, there is something for everyone to enjoy at Comiket!
Tables from comic publishers and independent artists fill the halls. Alongside the booths of people showing off upcoming video games, signing autographs, selling clothing, accessories, and board games. Plus, there’s just about every other kind of table, display, and stage in between. It’s an event for fans of the latest Japanese manga and even the most niche otaku (Japanese pop culture enthusiast). It’s also a fantastic event to add to one’s bucket list for those planning to cosplay.
Akita’s traditional festival fills the night with light. The highlight of the festival is an impressive display of skill. Performers balance kanto (long bamboo poles) without using their hands, keeping it on their foreheads, shoulders, hips, and chins. The performers have required daily training and a good sense of balance to manipulate.
The heaviest kanto poles weigh around 50 kg and are 12 meters tall. So you can imagine how much practice goes into carrying them. The city colorfully comes alive at night as over 270 Kanto fill the main streets. During the day, you can enjoy the balance of performers showing off their talents alongside their musical accompaniments. The sight of thousands of swaying lanterns accompanied by traditional music creates a magical atmosphere you will not forget!
While watching the mesmerizing performers, make sure not to miss out on trying all the gourmet food available since you’re already there! Let your eyes and stomach decide which local on-the-go dish looks the most appealing, and make the festival joy double! Additionally, you can taste udon, yakisoba with a sunny-side-up fried egg topping, or the baba hera ice cream, shaped like a rose!
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The Sendai Tanabata (star festival) is a unique and romantic summer event that captivates visitors with its vibrant atmosphere. It’s a famous festival celebrating an ancient Chinese legend about star-crossed lovers Altair and Vega.
In Japan, people refer to these two stars as Orihime and Hikoboshi. According to the legend, the Milky Way separates them, who can only meet once a year. Overall, people write their wishes and hang them on bamboo branches, hoping they reach the stars.
It’s one of the three biggest festivals in the Tohoku region. The festival takes place from the 6th to the 8th of August. Held along shopping streets in and around central Sendai, this festival will surely give everyone an unforgettable experience!
During this colorful matsuri, people celebrate Sendai with vivid Tanabata decorations. It’s so impressive that millions of tourists visit the city just to see it in person. Moreover, the festival’s main highlight is the mesmerizing display of large, colorful streamers adorning the city.
Besides that, there are various festivities, including street performances, live music, dance, and traditional Japanese food! The last night of the festival sees a major Japanese fireworks festival with 16,000 fireworks and 500,000 spectators.
The Kyoto Gozan Okuribi (send-off-fire) adds heat to the hottest month of the year with its blazing fires. The ceremony occurs annually on August 16th, beginning at eight pm. You may have seen the impressive pictures of the fiery prominent characters blazing in Kyoto’s mountains. But being there when the bonfires are lit is all the more magnificent!
The event is part of Obon (the Japanese religious holiday season related to Buddhism). The Obon festival is a custom where the Japanese honor their ancestors who returned during this period. People light five bonfires atop the mountains of Kyoto to send off the spirits of ancestors. They light three of the bonfires in the form of kanji characters. While the other two are shapes of a boat and a Shinto gate. The flames illuminate the night sky for 30 minutes.
To get the best view of all the bonfires, head to the center of the city Nakagyo Ward. Or you can also head to one of the five mountains Daimonji, Daikokuten, Funa Nishigamo, Daihoku-San, Okita, and Mandara.
August events mark the final month of summer in Japan, and it goes out with a bang. With many fireworks, festivals are held nationwide to watch with friends and family. There are also countless festivals to celebrate traditional dance and culture and to pray for a bountiful harvest. August is the perfect time to visit Japan and enjoy the country’s most colorful and spectacular traditional festivals. Get ready for fun in the sun!
From unique fire festivals to pop culture and lantern spectacles, there is something for everyone to enjoy! Have you been to one of these August events before? Would you like to attend one? Let us know in the comments below!
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