There are countless local festivals (祭り, matsuri) in Japan because almost every shrine celebrates one of its own. Most festivals are held annually and celebrate the shrine's deity or a seasonal or historical event. Some festival are held over several days.

An important element of Japanese festivals are processions, in which the local shrine's kami (Shinto deity) is carried through the town in mikoshi (palanquins). It is the only time of the year when the kami leaves the shrine to be carried around town.

Many festivals also feature decorated floats (known regionally under various names, such as dashi, yatai, danjiri, etc.), which are paraded through the town, accompanied by drum and flute music by the people sitting on the floats. Every festival has its own characteristics. While some festivals are calm and meditative, many are energetic and noisy.

Below follows an incomplete list of some of Japan's most famous festivals and celebrations. Exact dates are available on the event calendar.


March 1-14

Kanda Matsuri

Weekend closest to May 15 in odd numbered years

Gion Matsuri


Tenjin Matsuri

July 25

Nebuta Matsuri

August 2-7

Kanto Matsuri

August 3-6

Awa Odori

August 12-15