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Wednesday, 8th April 2015
In Japan Travel News,

Shrine festivals to look out for in Tokyo in May

As we firmly enter spring, Tokyo will be gearing itself up for an extensive programme of events and ceremonies. If you are exploring this breathtaking city in May, why not stop off at its many shrines - you may just stumble upon one of these fantastic festivals.

Meiji Shrine Spring Grand Festival

When: April 29th to May 3rd

Plonked deep into rich forests, Meiji Shrine is stunning all year round but it really comes into its own during this spring festival. It boasts a variety of traditional art performances and talks from leading masters, while the site's flowers are also a major attraction, as the azaleas, yamabuki and oleaceae come into full bloom at this time of year.

Okunitama Jinja Shrine Darkness Festival

When: April 30th to May 6th

This shrine is one of the oldest in Tokyo, with its zelkova trees even being designated as National Natural Treasures. The annual festival occurs at night as parades trickle around the area and communities get together to stage candlelit vigils. That is not to say nothing happens in the day though - a large plant fair with gardeners from all over the Kanto region is a particular highlight.

Musashi-mitake Jinja Shrine Hinode Festival

When: May 7th to 8th

This annual spring festival is probably the most important on this list. Named after a ceremony held when Buddhist priests would reach the mountain's peak, the proceedings see a Shinto procession at twilight on May 7th, and then a full celebration on the 8th. Winding through the Mitake village, the procession sees Shinto priests, warriors, parents and children all get together to climb the 300 stone steps to the main shrine. Even if this doesn't interest you much, the views of Tokyo from here are pretty spectacular. What more could you really ask for?