The Japanese tradition of matsuri creates fond memories for those who experience the festivities but, because of the large crowds they attract, many were put on hold for the past two years. While organizers have not yet confirmed the 2022 return of some of Tokyo’s most famous gatherings, here are some summer festivals that have been given the green light for celebrations of culture, dancing, street food and fun.
Shinjuku Eisa Festival
This is one of the most popular summer festivals in Tokyo. Eisa is an Okinawan style of dance that is celebrated every year with this large festival, drawing in up to a million people to observe the many groups that come to perform. The performances feature dancers and drummers in colorful festival garb, and this festival combines traditional music with the occasional pop song for a distinct Eisa experience! Since 2001, it has been held on the last Saturday of July in the heart of Shinjuku, and you can view the Shinjuku Eisa festival near the east exit of Shinjuku Station. The busy shopping streets are blocked off for this matsuri, making it hard to miss and worth a watch.
Date: July 30
This festival at Ryusenji Temple in Meguro brings together classic matsuri food and games, known as ennichi, on the 28th of every month. The beautiful temple has large grounds, which are filled with many vendors selling everything from fresh fruit to grilled meat. Traditional water balloons and pinball games are just some of the attractions that you’ll find at Fudoson, awakening old matsuri memories and creating new ones for first-time visitors.
Date: the 28th of every month
Taiko drumming, mikoshi (miniature shrine) floats, and kimono-clad dancers are just some of the attractions you can expect from the Hachioji festival. For 60 years, this parade has taken to the streets with impressive floats and performances, even scoring awards for the largest bon dance. In recent years, the festivities have drawn 800,000 attendees, with crowds lit up by the many lanterns on display. Early August, when the matsuri is held, is hot, so be sure to get there before the ice sculptures melt!
Date: August 5–7
Harajuku Omotesando Super Yosakoi
Yosakoi is a Japanese style of dance celebrated at this matsuri in the Meiji Jingu area. This festival is the event of the season in Harajuku/Omotesando, and drew more than 820,000 attendees in 2019. Its return this year will include more than 80 competing teams from various prefectures of Japan. Colorful costumes and unique dance routines are a hallmark of the festival, which will run during the last weekend of August.
Date: August 27–28
Akasaka Hikawa Shrine Festival
This festival dates back to the Edo period, and it was first held with an aim to prevent the spread of disease during the summer. With that in mind, its return in 2022 is much anticipated! The festival features enthusiastic participants shouldering mikoshi, and the wheeled dashi floats are also a characteristic feature of the matsuri that evoke the historical legacy of this matsuri. Some parts of the mikoshi and dashi have survived since the Edo period, and are still functional. The dedicated Akasaka Hikawa Float Preservation Society takes great care to prepare the floats for the festival in September, where they will be unveiled. This matsuri is a real taste of classic festival culture, and is planned for mid-September.
Date: September 16–18 (to be confirmed; check the official site)
Yoyogi Hachimangu Matsuri
This matsuri features nostalgic games and festival foods at the Yoyogi Hachimangu shrine. The shrine’s location, surrounded by trees, makes for a cool forest feel—quite different from the matsuri that take place on popular streets. Try your hand at games of chance to win sugary prizes, and enjoy being in nature as the summer winds down.
Date: September 22–23