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5 Japanese Summer Festivals You Must Experience

1. Gion Matsuri Festival

The Gion Festival is a long-standing summer festival in Japan, starting from the ninth century, it is famous for its floats (which can be up to 25 meters high and weigh 12 tons). People can use up to 30 palanquins (commonly called Yamaboko), each float will represent a separate neighborhood or corporation of Kyoto. The wheels are usually about the height of a person.

During the festival, traffic is blocked from downtown Kyoto, and street food stalls and stalls are used to sell food or serve as entertainment during the festival. Traditional streets are decorated with all kinds of flowers, banners, and flags, all are illuminated by lanterns. This famous parade begins at Yasaka Shrine in the Gion district of Kyoto.

The festival was recognized as a "World Intangible Cultural Heritage" in 2009

Festival time: Throughout July, the most exciting days are from July 14 to 17.

Location: Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto.

2. Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival

Sumidagawa is the oldest fireworks festival in the world, starting in 1732 and it was created to celebrate “Hanabi” (Japanese fireworks). The festival includes fireworks competitions, which attract millions of attendees every year, with most participants wearing traditional kimonos or yukata.

Festival time: Last Saturday of July. In case of rain, the festival will be canceled.

Location: Tokyo, Sumida River bank, near Asakusa district.

3. Mitama Matsuri Summer Festival

During the festival, 30,000 lanterns will illuminate the Yasukuni Shrine area in Tokyo for the four days of the festival. Attendees often wear yukata, a traditional kimono made from lightweight cotton. Traditional dances on boats and stage performances are the factors that contribute to the bustling atmosphere of this festival.

Festival time: from July 13 to 17.

Location: Yasukuni Jinja Shrine, Tokyo, near Kudanshita station.

4. Aomori Nebuta Matsuri Festival

Considered one of Japan's three most famous festivals - Nebuta Festival has been recognized by UNESCO as one of the "World Intangible Cultural Heritages". During the festival, giant colorful 3D lantern floats are paraded on the streets. On the final day of the festival, don't miss the stunning two-hour fireworks display that closes out the festivities.

It is said that this summer festival originated from the Tanabata Festival, which originated in China in the 700s.

Festival period: Nights from August 2 to 7.

Location: Aomori, Aomori Prefecture

5. Summer music festival

Not all Japanese festivals have traditional cultural colors. The summer music festival has been held since 2000 and includes performances by many of Japan's most influential music artists as well as international artists.

Festival time: Mid-August (in 2018) from the 18th to the 20th.

Location: Simultaneously in the cities of Osaka and Chiba.

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