4 Must-See Festivals in and around Shinjuku

In Japan, summer is synonymous with festivals, and Tokyo is no exception. From shrine celebrations to massive fireworks displays, not even scorching temperatures and oppressive humidity can stop seasonal reveling.
No trip to Japan is complete without experiencing a traditional festival. All of the events covered in this article are held annually, so there’s no need to worry if you missed any of them this year. That just means that you have plenty of time to plan your trip around them next year.

The 17th Annual Shinjuku Eisa Festival

Recently covered here, this was easily one of the most enjoyable festivals I’ve seen during my 10 years in Japan. Not only are the endless parades of dance troupes truly impressive, but the festival is also easy to access. Weather permitting, you can enjoy the Eisa Festival late into the evening, which is great if you prefer to avoid the heat and humidity of Tokyo summers.
Typically held on the last Sunday in July, this festival is easy to fit into your plans. With plenty of accommodations nearby, there’s no excuse for missing out!

Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival

Hanabi, the Japanese word for fireworks literally translates to “fire flower,” which is the perfect way to describe the country’s world-renowned fireworks festivals. Although not as famous as the grand events that take place over Tokyo’s large rivers, the Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival is one of the few that is easily visible from popular spots such as Shinjuku and Roppongi.
Reserved seating is available at three locations, including the Meiji Jingu Baseball Stadium, Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, and the Meiji Jingu Gaien Softball Stadium. If, however, you are looking to save some money or have trouble navigating the Japanese website, you can still enjoy a great view from almost anywhere in the vicinity, including Arakicho.

Hanazono Shrine Tori-no-Ichi Festival

Photo credit: ivva via Flickr

Although most festivals take place during the summer, the Hanazono Shrine’s Tori-no-Ichi Festival occurs in November, just in time for refreshing fall weather and beautiful autumn leaves. This festival honors the days of the rooster, one of the 12 animal signs of the Chinese Zodiac calendar.
This means that the festival is held two or even three times in November, depending on the calendar, which makes it hard to miss if you are traveling at that time. It’s a great opportunity to sample all kinds of delicious Japanese street food. The festival is also perfect for memento and souvenir shopping and is a special opportunity to pick up a kumade, an ornamental bamboo rake that is said to bring wealth and good fortune.

Koenji Awadori

Although Koenji is technically two wards away from Shinjuku, it’s just a 10 minute train ride from Shinjuku Station and is well worth a visit. In addition to being a mecca for trendy shops, restaurants, and bars, Koenji is home to Japan’s second largest Awa Odori (Awa Dance Festival). Much like the previously covered Shinjuku Eisa Festival, Awa Odori is a Bon dance. However this particular dance hails from Tokushima Prefecture, Shikoku. “Awa” is the old name for Tokushima and “Odori” means dance.
Words, and even pictures, can’t do this festival justice, so I encourage you to check it out in person. This festival occurs annually from mid to late August, and you can find the latest details, in English, on the official website.

But wait, there’s more!

These festivals are just a few highlights from the west side of Tokyo. Festivals of all kinds are a major part of Japanese culture and can be found all throughout the city, especially during the summer months. So, if you can’t fit any of the above events into your itinerary, don’t give up hope. There are plenty of festivals to experience and you can find detailed information on many of them here at Tadaima Japan.

For smartphone users, please click the link below to go to the Tadaima Japan website which includes additional location details:
4 Must-See Festivals in and around Shinjuku

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Writer / Translator

Originally from Riverside, California, I've been living, working, and writing in Japan since 2009. Japan has become my second home, and I'm especially fond of Shinjuku, Tokyo. That being said, I also love getting out into the countryside and exploring the entire country. Through Tadaima Japan, I hope to share the wonders of Japan with a wider, international audience. Check out my articles if you enjoy exploring on foot, convenient cafes, and affordable dining.


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