Festivals in Japan are rich and vibrant occasions. Girls put on their best 'yukatta' (a light kimono) and often the men wear traditional dress as well. The streets are lined with food and drink stands selling grilled meat on sticks, 'yakisoba' fried noodles and all manner of food delights. And of course, the Japanese love a drink at these occasions so beer and sake are never in short supply.
In this section we will be collecting together some of our favourite festivals that we think you may like to consider attending whilst in Japan. Some are really famous, other less so, but what we can guarantee is that you will have a lot of fun. Accommodation for major festivals can get booked up as far as a year in advance so if you are looking to attend a big event then let is know as soon as possible so we can get planning. Often though, it is just a matter of seeing what coincides with your visit and heading along for some festival fun and a chance to meet the Japanese at their most laid back.
- Nebuta Matsuri (Aug)
- Yabusame Horseback Archery (Sep)
- Saijo Sake Festival (Oct)
- Shirakawago Doburoku Matsuri (Oct)
- Toyota Oiden Matsuri (Jul)
- Sapporo Beer Festival (Jul & Aug)
- Sapporo Snow Festival (Feb)
- Sumida River Fireworks Festival (Jul)
- Daimonji Bonfire Festival (Aug)
- Tokyo Anime Fairs (Mar & Apr)
- Kyoto Hanatoro (Dec & March)
- Okayama Naked Festival (Feb)
Sapporo Beer Festival (Jul & Aug)
Sapporo is one of Japan's most cosmopolitan cities. Its wide streets and tree lined boulevards give the city an almost European feel. Coffee shops and cafes proliferate throughout the city and the centre is packed with a fantastic range of shops, restaurants and bars.
Sapporo is most alive during its festivals. The most famous is the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri which takes place in February. However, just as enjoyable is the summer beer festival, when Odori Koen, the park which runs thorugh the heart of the city, is transformed into a giant beer garden. Each of Japan's major brewers has a square where they set up a bar and outdoor seating for Sapporoites to enjoy from early afternoon until around 10 'o clock in the evening. An international tent provides a wide selection of brews from around the World. Look out for unusual offerings, such as Kirin's renowned 'Bikuri Tower' (literally, 'surprise tower') a 4 feet tall, 3 litre pitcher of beer with a tap at the bottom for that perfect pour!
For anyone looking to enjoy a taste of Japanese urban life, a few days in Sapporo during the festival is an ideal place to be.
The festival kicks off on 21st July and draws to a close on 20th August after a full month of summer fun in the park.
Sapporo is the capital of Japan's north island of Hokkaido. The city can be reached in two hours by plane from Tokyo, with direct internal flights from most major Japanese cities. Sapporo is also linked to the capital and Osaka by overnight sleeper trains which depart daily. Sapporo can also be reached by day time on the train. The journey of just over 700 miles taking 10h30 with a single change aty Hachnohe in northern Honshu. Sapporo can be easily incorporated into most itineraries.
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