Tokyo Events

Tokyo is a city that bustles with events and celebrations throughout the year. A visit to Tokyo isn't complete without experiencing one of its many colorful events, which range from sports and tournaments to fairs and festivals. Some of these are fixed and take place from year to year, while others are subject to change or are one time events. It is always best to confirm or check with your hotel before planning to attend an event.

Following is an overview of the major annual Tokyo events and festivals, arranged month-wise to give you a better idea of what to expect when. It will also give you an indication of when to make your reservations in case you would want to attend one of these events.


O-Shogatsu (New Year)

New Year's Day, or Ganjitsu , is considered an auspicious day in Japan. As the New Year dawns, the people of Tokyo flock to their favorite shrine or temple for an annual purification. Meiji Jingu Shrine attracts the biggest crowds, closely followed by the Kawasaki Daishi Shrine and the Sensoji Temple. Special foods are prepared and served on this day - a broth, herring roe, black beans, dried chestnuts and seaweed. Shinto talismans are hung on entranceways of homes, symbolizing prosperity, purity and longevity and keeping evil spirits from entering.

Ippan Sanga

Ippan Sanga is the first major festival of the year. Celebrated on January 2 every year, it is one of only two days (the other being on December 23) when the Imperial Palace grounds are open to the public. It is also a rare chance to see the Emperor and the Imperial Family who come out to receive New Year greetings of the public. Entrance to the gardens is by Niju-bashi Bridge, where people start flocking from early in the morning. The Imperial Family makes hourly appearances behind bulletproof glass between 9:30 am and 3 pm. Each time the Family appears, the public waves Japanese flags and shouts “ Banzai ” which means ‘Long Life'. During this annual ritual, the Emperor gives his New Year Address which is broadcast on television to the nation.


Each year in early January, firemen dress in Edo-period costumes and go on parade. The parade route is along Harumi Chuo-dori. The firemen later perform acrobatic stunts on top of bamboo ladders at Harumi Pier - Chuo dori.

Sumo Tournaments

The January Sumo Tournaments, or the January Basho , are one of the year's six Grand Tournaments of sumo wrestling. Held for fifteen days from the second to fourth Sundays in January at Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall, it culminates in the crowning of grand champions, or yokozuna.


Seijin-no-hi, or Coming-of-Age Day, is a Public Holiday. Every year on the second Monday of January, young people who have turned age 20 are honored at shrines. Twenty is the age considered as the beginning of adulthood and people who have reached this age are subject to adult laws and gain the right to vote. The largest crowds gather at Meiji-jingu Shrine for ceremonies and prayers after which there is a traditional display of archery. Seijin-no-hi is a day of great importance in the lives of the young as they dress in their best, take part in ceremonies, get explanations from elders of their rights and responsibilities as adults, and party at the end of the day.

Antique Jamboree 

Tokyo Big Sight holds an annual Antique Jamboree during the second week of January. This very popular event attracts huge crowds and features everything from trinkets and genuine antiques to clothes and art. Several outdoor cafes and food stalls add flavor to the place.


Toray Pan Pacific Open Tennis Tournament

An annual event, the Toray Pan Pacific Open Tennis Tournament is held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium every January-February. This is a ladies-only singles and doubles tournament which has established itself as a Tier I event on the WTA Tour. All the big names in women's tennis sweat it out the for total prize money of US$1,340,000 in this Tournament.

Hari-kuyo (Memorial Service for Used Pins)

In this unique Japanese festival, pins and needles are paid homage to. Every year on this day tinkers, tailors, housewives, sock makers, and even fashion students go to their favorite temple. In a refined ceremony, they show gratitude to their pins and needles by placing them into a Japanese sambo navel orange. The pins and needles broken in the previous year are “buried” into tofu and radishes. The best places to observe this ceremony are the Sensoji and Shojuin temples.

National Foundation Day Parade

National Foundation Day on February 11 th is a Public Holiday in Japan. It was on this day that Emperor Jinmu ascended in Japan's first enthronement. A huge parade is taken out on National Foundation Day which passes through the beautiful Meiji Park, the Meiji Shrine and Omote-Sando Street. Cars decorated with beautiful flowers lead the parade with eight Mikoshi portable shrines following to the beat of the drum and the rumble of the tuba.

Setsubun Festival

Setsubun is celebrated according to the lunar calendar around the second week of February. Every Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine in the country celebrates this grand event marking the end of winter, with deep devoutness. On this day crowds gather on temple and shrine grounds and hurl soybeans whilst shouting "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" meaning "Fortune in! Devils out!" Soybeans are also tossed out of the windows from homes by the head of the family symbolizing the purification of the home. According to custom, on Setsubun locals eat the same number of beans as their own age.


Hina Matsuri (The Doll Festival)

Hina Matsuri, or the Doll Festival, is celebrated on the third day of March.

Please refer to Meiji-jingumae (C-03) for more on Hina Matsuri .

Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Viewing Festival)

Sakura Matsuri, or the Cherry Blossom Viewing Festival, is hugely celebrated in Tokyo. During March-April, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, the city holds a festive look. People come out in large numbers for cherry blossom viewing, or hanami. People hold hanami parties with picnics, drinking, singing and dancing. Food stalls spring up on the sides of streets that sell local favorites like squid balls on a stick. Some favorite hanami spots are the Chidori-ga-fuchi Moat, Aoyama Cemetary, Sumida Park, Kaomonyama Park, Yoyogi Park, Ueno Park, and Yasukuni Shrine among many more.  


Buddha's Birthday

Buddha's Birthday is celebrated on April 8 th at most temples throughout Tokyo. On this day, also called Hana Matsuri, people gather at Buddhist shrines and temples for joyful celebrations. Inside the shrine or temple a flower hall, or Hanamido , is prepared, where a statue of the baby Buddha is placed adorned with flowers. Worshippers approach the statue and pour amacha , or hydrangea leaf tea, on its head as an offering, which is supposed to ward off evil spirits. Processions with floats are also taken out in many places in which people dressed in their best kimonos chant their way to the temples. The best places to catch the festivities are the Sensoji and Zojoji Temples.

Yabusame (Horseback Archery) Festival

The Yabusame Festival is held annually on April 21st to honor heroes of the past. Every year on this day horseback archery contests are held at Tokyo's Sumida Park. Jockeys dressed in traditional samurai costumes shoot arrows at a target as they gallop past. Any archer able to hit three targets wins a prize. There is also a costume parade that goes from Denpo-in Temple to Sumida Park.

The week from April 29 to May 5 is called The Golden Week . The Golden Week is a collection of four national holidays all within the period of seven days. When Saturdays and Sundays are included, this week becomes one of the longest holidays of the year and one of the busiest holiday seasons besides New Year and the Obon Week.

Showa Day

Showa Day, or Showa no hi, on April 29 th is the first holiday of the Golden Week. It is the birthday of former Emperor Hirohito, the Showa Emperor. From the time of his death in 1989 till 2006, the day was celebrated as Greenery Day, which has now been moved to May 4. From 2007, April 29 will be observed as Showa Day, the official purpose of which is “to reflect on Japan's Showa period when recovery was made after turbulent days, and to think of the country's future."

Constitution Day

Constitution Day, or Kenpo kinenbi, is the second national holiday of the Golden Week. Celebrated on May 3 rd , the present Constitution of Japan was put into effect on this day in 1947. Constitution Day is the only day of the year when the National Diet Building is open to the public.

Greenery Day

Till 2006 Greenery Day used to be celebrated on April 29. Now to be held on May 4th, the day is a day to commune with nature, to be thankful for blessings, and to foster an abundant spirit.

Children's Day

Children's Day, or Kodomo-no-hi, is the last public holiday of the Golden Week. Observed on May 5 th each year, it is actually more of a Boy's Day. The day is marked by the flying of a carp streamer from a pole outside each home with a boy in the family, symbolizing strength and perseverance. Other features of the day include respect of children's personalities and celebration of their happiness by families, and the eating of sweet rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves.


Kanda Matsuri

Kanda Matsuri is ranked among Tokyo's traditional Three Grand Festivals. It is observed in mid-May at Kanda Myojin Shrine.

For more on Kanda Matsuri, please refer to the Ochanomizu (M-20) page.  

Sanja Matsuri

Held on the third weekend of May in honor of the three men who laid the foundation of Sensoji Temple, Sanja Matsuri is one of the Three Grand Festivals.

Please refer to the Akasaka (C-06) page for more on Sanja Matsuri .

Sumo Tournaments

The May Sumo Tournaments, or the May Basho , are one of the year's six Grand Tournaments of sumo wrestling. The greatest sumo wrestlers of Japan meet at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall for the crown of the grand champion.

Minato Matsuri

Minato Matsuri is one of the biggest events of Tokyo Port. It is celebrated around May 20 th (the date varies depending on the year) to commemorate the anniversary of the opening of Port of Tokyo on May 20th, 1941. The day features parades of sailing boats, a tour of Nihon Maru (one of the world's biggest sailing ships of Japan), a stamp rally, Tokyo bay cruises, and a walking competition from Hinode to Harumi. These festival events are held at three locations – Harumi, Waterfront Subcenter, and Wakasu sites. The Harumi site also hosts a Port Bazaar where visitors can purchase domestic and foreign marine products as well as beverages, snacks and miscellaneous goods co-sponsored by local companies.


The Great Japan Beer Festival

The Beer Festival is one of the most popular festivals of Tokyo. Held annually in mid-June at Yebisu Garden Place, it draws crowds in thousands. On this occasion, people can sample 50 cc worth of more than 80 different craft beers from both local and international brewers. The festival is organized by Japan Craft Beer Association and NPO BeerTaster Organisation.

Sanno Matsuri

Sanno Matsuri is held annually in mid-June at Hie Jinja Shrine

For more on Sanno Matsuri and Hie Jinja Shrine, please refer to Akasaka-mitsuke (G-05, M-13).

Togo Shrine Flea Market

The Togo Shrine Flea Market is held every June on various dates. Due to its popularity and the variety of goods sold, it is often called “the big daddy of Tokyo flea markets”.

Please refer to Meiji-jingumae (C-03) for more on the Togo Shrine and its Flea Market.


Tanabata Matsuri

Tanabata Matsuri is a festival held yearly on July 7 th . It is also called "star festival" as on this day the two stars Altair and Vega, which are usually separated from each other by the Milky Way, are able to meet. On this day there is a lot of merrymaking especially among the young. Wishes are written on pieces of paper and hung on specially erected bamboo trees in front of houses. The bamboo branches are also decorated with ornaments, samples of calligraphy, and paper kimonos as a tribute to the stars.

Sumida River Firework Festival

The Sumida River Fireworks Festival takes place on the last Saturday of July in Asakusa along the Sumida River. On this day, one of Japan's biggest displays of fireworks takes place.

Read more about the Sumida River Fireworks Festival here ->  Akasaka (C-06)

Tokyo Summer Festival

The Tokyo Summer Festival is a month long event – from the first week of July to the first week of August – in which musical stage performances, exhibitions and concerts are held in venues all over Tokyo. Although the main focus is on classical and symphonic music, there is also some focus on dance, hip hop and world music. Each year there is a different theme for the festival. This great music festival was created 24 years ago by pianist Kyoko Edo, composer Maki Ishii and musicologist Takashi Funayama. 


Tokyo Bay Fireworks Festival

The Tokyo Bay Fireworks Festival has become one of the largest and best known fireworks displays in Tokyo. At the Festival, which usually takes place on the second Saturday of August, over 12,000 fireworks are released in Tokyo Bay that illuminate the night sky in huge patterns. The display can be viewed from a wide area and attracts huge crowds.


Obon is a Buddhist event that takes place from the 13 th to the 16 th of August. It is one of the most important periods for the Japanese people in which there is praying for the repose of the souls of one's ancestors. People clean their homes and decorate butsudans (Buddhist family altars) with flowers and paper lanterns. A variety of food is offered to the spirits of ancestors at the butsudans as it is believed that ancestors' spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during Obon. To guide the spirits, paper lanterns are lit at homes and at the ancestral graves. Religious folk dances are also held in the neighborhood temples and parks to comfort the spirit of the dead. Obon is a family event, so family members who are away from home, come home for the festivities.

Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri

Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri is one of Tokyo's Three Grand Festivals. Held once every three years in mid-August, this 3-day festival attracts huge crowds.

For more on Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri, please refer to  Monzen-nakacho (T-12, E-15).

Asakusa Samba Carnival

Asakusa's Samba Carnival is an annual event held on the last Saturday of August. This Japan's version of the Rio Carnival draws huge crowds and features a parade down Kaminarimon-dori.

For details on the Samba Carnival, refer to the Akasaka (C-06) page.

Kagurazaka Awa Festival

The Kagurazaka Awa Festival is the most famous summer dance festival of Tokyo.

Please refer to Kagurazaka (T-05) for more on the Kagurazaka Awa Festival.


Sumo Tournaments

The September Sumo Tournaments, or the September Basho , are one of the year's six Grand Tournaments of sumo wrestling. These tournaments take place at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall from the second to the fourth Sundays in September for a stretch of 15 days.

Amusement Machine Show

The Amusement Machine Show is held annually in mid-September by JAMMA (Japan Amusement Machinery Manufacturers Association) at the Tokyo Big Site East Halls. It showcases more than 2,000 arcade games and amusement park ride machines not yet in circulation. With the aim of promoting Japan's amusement industry and the healthy development of the Asian market, the show has been going strong for the last 40 years.

Respect for the Aged Day

Respect for the Aged Day, or Keiro no hi, is a national holiday. Celebrated annually on the third Monday of September, it is held to honor the elderly and celebrate their longevity. On this day the elderly are invited out for entertainment and gift-giving. The media features special programs highlighting the oldest people in the country, and the society tries to gain a greater awareness and understanding of welfare issues confronting the elderly. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government sponsors a number of special events for the city's elders.

Autumn Equinox Day

Autumn Equinox Day is one of the most traditional Japanese National Holidays. Locally known as Shubun no hi, it is the day when the day-time and the night-time are of equal length. Although the day is usually celebrated on September 23 rd , the actual date of the Autumn Equinox Day changes from year to year due to leap year. On this day, the Japanese visit their ancestors' graves to pay their respects. They clean the tombstones, put new flowers and incense, and leave behind ohagi (sweet rice balls covered with soybean paste) at the graves for the ancestors' spirits.

Fukuro Festival

Fukuro Festival takes place sometime around the last weekend of September and first weekend of October. It is Ikebukuro's biggest festival and is held annually at its West Square.

For more details on the Fukuro Festival, please refer to Ikebukuro (M-25, Y-09).


AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships

The AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships is an outdoor hard surface tennis tournament held at the Ariake Coliseum located in Koto, Tokyo. Held annually during the first week of October, it holds both a men's and women's tournament for a cash prize of US$175,000. This highly competitive and entertaining tournament is sponsored by the American International Group (AIG).

Japanese F1 Grand Prix

The Japanese F1 Grand Prix is one of the most popular races of the Formula One season. Since the time of its inception in 1976 till 2004 when Brazil Grand Prix took over, this was the last race of the season. This great event is held annually sometime during the first week of October.


Oeshiki is a Buddhist festival held every year on October 11 th . This festival is celebrated on the anniversary of Saint Nichiren's death.

More information on Oeshiki is available here -> Nishi-magome (A-01).

Dai Ginza Matsuri

Dai Ginza Matsuri is celebrated between the 10 th and the 17 th of October as the anniversary of the Meiji Restoration. The week long festival features a Parade of Sound and Light through Ginza Dori, an annual photo contest, the Hachi-Cho Shrine Pilgrimage, a charity bazaar, and a musical performance by the Maritime Safety Agency Brass Band. Bargain sales held by the major name stores in the district are another major attraction of the festival.

Kiku Kuyo

Kiku Kuyo, or the Chrysanthemum Festival, is celebrated towards the end of October. As the Japanese consider chrysanthemums symbolic of autumn, they offer the flower to Kannon (the Bodhisattva of Compassion) on this day. At the Sensoji Temple, there are displays of chrysanthemums and the famous Golden Dragon Dance (Kinryu-no-mai) is performed to attract good fortune and prosperity.

Tokyo International Film Festival

The Tokyo International Film Festival is a competitive film festival held annually in the Shibuya Ward of Tokyo. First established in 1985, it was held bi-annually from 1985 to 1991 and annually thereafter. The festival is one of the largest film events in Asia which screens a wide range of Japanese and Asian films. Awards are given to the best film, best director, best actor, and best actress. There is a Special Jury Award as well. The Tokyo International Film Festival is held from the last week of October to the first week of November.


Jidai Matsuri

Jidai Matsuri is celebrated on November 3rd every year. As the festival showcases the pride of the Japanese culture, the day is also known as 'Culture Day' and is a Public Holiday.

For more on Jidai Matsuri, please visit the page Akasaka (C-06).

Shibuya Festival

The Shibuya Festival is a fun community festival held during the first weekend of November. It features parades and food, besides a myriad of family events. The events are spread over several places in Shibuya, including Yoyogi Park Event Square, Shibuya Public Hall, and Workers' Welfare Hall.

Tori-no-Ichi (Good Luck Rake Fair)

Tori no Ichi is a famous annual event in November on the day of the Tori (Rooster) in the Chinese calendar. The day of the Tori (Rooster) comes every 12 days in November and generally the first day, November 4 th , is considered to be the most important. The festival is held three times during the month at various Otori shrines, the largest being at the Asakusa Otori Shrine. Crowds have been gathering here since the 1770's to pray for health, good fortune and good business. At the fair, street stalls sell symbolic charms called kumade (rake) to encourage a prosperous year of business, Yatsugashira potato, said to help fertility and improve chances of procreation and healthy babies, besides hundreds of other stalls selling a large variety of goods.

Japan International Cycle Show

Japan International Cycle Show (JICS) has been held annually in November since 1990. At the show, all the leading international brands show off their most up-to-date technology and introduce their latest models of bicycles, bicycle parts, and accessories. Other attractions include battles of top riders at Dual Trial Grand Prix 2003; Open Air Trial Zone where you can try the newest models; Razor U.S.A. Team's thrilling demonstration of kick skater acrobatic feats; a fashion show; a health care corner; and special presentations with an emphasis on cycling in safety and comfort.

Shichi Go San

Shichi Go San, or “Seven Five Three”, is a day of prayer for the healthy growth of young children. Observed on November 15 or the closest weekend, boys and girls aged three, boys aged five, and girls aged seven, visit a Shinto shrine with their parents to pray. The girls dress up in kimonos when making their Shichi Go San visit, while boys wear haori jackets and hakama trousers. Long candies in bags decorated with turtles and cranes are given to the children. The candy, the crane, and the turtle, all symbolize long life.

Labor Thanksgiving Day

Labor Thanksgiving Day, or Kinro Kansha no Hi , is a national holiday observed on November 23. On this day, the Japanese express thanksgiving to one another for work done throughout the year. A number of major events are held on this day.

RESFEST Touring Digital Film Festival

The RESFEST Touring Digital Film Festival is a widely acclaimed festival of digital films and videos that brings the best of digital cinema to major cities of the world. The Tokyo leg of the tour, which is around the end of November, is held at Laforet Museum and features a huge range of digital shorts and documentaries, music films and videos, projected Flash animations and much more. A variety of talks and workshops are also held.


Gishi-sai (Vendetta of the 47 Ronin)

Gishi-sai is a festival held at Sengakuji Temple in Minato Ward of Tokyo to honor the forty-seven loyal retainers in Akoh.

For details on Gishi-sai, please visit the page Sengakuji (A-07)

Setagaya Boro Ichi

Setagaya Boro Ichi is Japan's biggest antique flea market. Held annually on December 15 and 16 on the streets of Setagaya, it brings together over seven hundred dealers that sell wares ranging from antique kimonos to a wide selection of arts, crafts and bric-a-brac. The market draws thousands of bargain hunters from all over the city and suburbs.

Hagoita Ichi (Battledore Fair)

The Hagoita-Ichi (Battledore Fair) is an annual fair held in the precincts of Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa from December 17 th to 19 th . In this traditional fair dating back to the Edo Period, over 50 open-air stalls selling hagoita (battledores, or rectangular boards with a handle used for playing a New Year game called hanetsuki ), shuttlecocks, kites and other New Year decorations come up in the main hall of the temple. The battledores are not meant for practical use, but are supposed to be good-luck charms for ornamental purposes. When a battledore is sold, sellers and buyers clap their hands rhythmically in harmony with one another.

Emperor's Birthday

The Emperor's birthday on December 23 rd is a national holiday in Japan. The occasion is marked by banners, flags, well wishes, and a special address by the Emperor himself. It is one of the 2 days when the Emperor and the Imperial Family make a public appearance on a palace balcony protected by bulletproof glass to acknowledge the birthday wishes of crowds of festive well-wishers waving tiny Japanese flags.

Omisoka (New Year's Eve)

Omisoka, or New Year's Eve, is traditionally an important day in Japan. On this day people clean the whole house in a ritual called O souji and then decorate the cleaned house with special images. On the door a shimekazari , a decoration which indicates that the home has now been purified and thus ready to welcome the divinities, is hung. These divinities are supposed to bring happiness and ward off evil spirits. On Omisoka, people traditionally eat noodles to see the year out. A few minutes before midnight, crowds gather at the temple to hear the bell strike 108 times, intended to drive away all of the previous year's sins and thus ensuring a fresh new start. The tolling of the bell is called Joya-no-Kane. The family then exchange greetings and the children are given money by their parents.

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