Japanese Festivals and Fireworks
Japan is a country that extends great distances in every cardinal direction. As such, it experiences a wide variety of climates and environments. Each area has its own traditions, and its own ancient rites and festivals. Not to mention its own fireworks displays! From these countless festivals and shows, we have picked a few that stand out from the rest and listed them for you below.
Japan is a diverse country, with many different regions each with their own traditions. The spirit of these regions and cultures can be glimpsed in the unique festivals they hold, and in their fireworks displays. In Aomori's Nebuta Festival and Akita's Kanto Festival, for example, you can feel the energy of northeastern Japan explode out from its long winter's sleep. At Kyoto's Gion Festival, you can taste the refinement and grace of a tradition that dates back over 1,100 years. During Toyama's Owara Kaze no Bon Festival, you can gaze at the beauty of Japanese life given expression. And at Niigata's Nagaoka Fireworks Display and Nagano's Suwa Lake Fireworks Festival, you can be dazzled by the unique feel of each region's fireworks. We hope you will experience Japan's traditional culture while enjoying one of these wonderful events
Aomori Nebuta Festival
Watch a glorious display of colorful and traditional floats, or "Nebuta," parade through the streets of Aomori.
The Aomori Nebuta Festival is an energetic celebration held every summer from August 2nd to August 7th. The summer of northeastern Japan is short, and the people of Aomori take full advantage of it to hold one of the most impressive summer festivals in all of Japan. Great "Nebuta," or colorfully embellished floats form the core of this festival, and many of them show images of traditional Japanese stories. Each float is 9 meters long, 7 meters wide, and 5 meters tall. 500 to 1,000 men and women, dressed in special yukata, dance around Nebuta floats shouting the cheer “Rassera,” making this a sight to behold. More than 20 of these tremendous Nebuta participate in this festival, and is definitely something you should not miss.Aomori Nebuta Festival (Official Site)
Akita Kanto Festival
Weave and sway along with the golden lanterns that light up the night at this traditional Akita festival.
The Akita Kanto Festival is one of Japan's harvest festivals, held every summer from August 3rd to August 6th. Held in the powerful arms of northeastern Japanese strongmen, tremendous 12 meter tall poles topped with over 200 glowing paper lanterns weave and sway through the night sky. The trails of light they trace will captivate and delight, so make sure to see the lights of the Akita Kanto Festival!Akita Kanto Festival (Official Site)
Owara Kaze no Bon Festival
Witness the graceful elegance of Japanese dancers in festival garb dance to the melancholy notes of the kokyu.
The Owara Kaze no Bon Festival is a three day, three night festival held from September 1st to September 3rd, where people dance in order to calm the winds and pray for a bountiful harvest. Experience the traditional atmosphere of the old town of Yatsuo, lit by the warm light of bobbing paper lanterns, and watch a quiet, dignified folk dance. Hear the mournful notes of the kokyu carry through the streets and alleys and alight upon the covered faces of male and female dancers, their faces veiled in the shadows of their braided straw hats. And enjoy a unique, beautiful festival steeped in both tradition and emotion.Owara Kaze no Bon Festival (Toyama City Global Site)
Suwa Lake Fireworks Festival
Watch over 40,000 fireworks explode over Lake Suwa in one of Japan's largest fireworks festivals!
The Suwa Lake Fireworks Festival, first held in 1949, is the largest summer event that takes place by Lake Suwa in Nagano prefecture. Held every summer on August 15th (the date of the Bon Festival on the old lunar calendar), the most notable aspect of this festival is its sound. Lake Suwa is surrounded by mountains, and the boom of each firework echoes off them, amplifying until you can feel the roar reverberate in your very bones. With over 40,000 fireworks set off in one night using high-level techniques such as "aquatic star mines" and "Niagaras," this is the Japanese firework festival to go to!Suwa Lake Fireworks Festival (Nagano Prefecture Official Tourism guide)
Enjoy Kyoto's Gion Festival, listed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage!
With over 1,100 years of history, Yasaka Shrine's Gion Festival is one of Japan's three great festivals. Throughout July, a number of different Shinto rituals and events are held. Of these, one of the most notable is "Yoiyama", held on July 16th. Numerous festival floats are placed throughout the city and lit by paper lanterns bearing. The yamaboko float parade held on July 17th, where 23 groups of floats wind their way through Kyoto is also well worth seeing. Finally, from this year on, a second parade of floats will also be held on July 24th, providing visitors with ample opportunity to enjoy this wonderful festival.Official KYOTO TRAVEL GUIDE
Nagaoka Fireworks Display
Fireworks glow bright in the night sky at one of Japan's three greatest fireworks displays.
Every summer on the 2nd and 3rd of August, the Nagaoka Festival Fireworks Display is held on the banks of the Shinano River in Niigata. The size and power of this fireworks display makes it Japan's greatest. Keep an eye out for the gigantic "sei-sanjakudama" fireworks, which explode in the air with diameters of roughly 650 meters. However, the pinnacles of this event are the "Phoenix" fireworks and the "panoramic extra wide star mines," specially prepared in memory of the 10 year anniversary of the 2004 Chuetsu Earthquake.Nagaoka Fireworks Display (Japanese)