Most Beautiful Japanese Festivals in May


Aoi Festival in Kyoto ©Conveyor belt sushi/Flickr

Many Japanese festivals have their origin in Chinese culture, but during the centuries they have changed a lot. These festive occasions are very significant for local people and for tourists as well. Some festivals are celebrated all around Japan, but there are other festivals which characterize only a particular area of the country or a city.

May is one of the most beautiful months of the year: the cherry blossoming is just finished and the nature is becoming more and more green. Many Japanese festivals are held in May, celebrating the rebirth of nature or other important things. In this article I’ve gathered some of the most beautiful Japanese festivals in May.

Yotaka Matsuri

giant paper lantern

Giant Paper lantern ©psyberartist/Flickr

Yotaka Matsuri is held on the first two days of May, in Fukuno, Toyama Prefecture. It is one of the most scenic May festival. The most important objects of this festival are the giant paper lanterns. The celebration usually starts at midnight, when local men are hanging from the decorated lanterns and they start to have a symbolic fight with each other.


Shimonoseki Straits Festival


Otonashi-Inari Shrine in Shimonoseki, an important place of the festival ©hitomi770/Flickr

This festival is celebrated on May 3rd, in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture. Shimonoseki Straits Festival has a historic aspect; the celebration is centered around the well-known Genpei Dannoura sea battle, when Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaka Kojiro duelled for more than 200 boats. For this festival, many people dress up ad samurai, to summon the historic era of the battle.


Yokohama Port Festival

yokohama port festival

Yokohama Port Festival ©midorisyu/Flickr

Yokohama Port Festival, held on the third day of May gathers thousands of people here from all around the world. On this day, the port of Yokohama becomes very vivid, since it is also called International Costume Parade. Dragon dances or baton twirlers are not unusual sights on this day in Yokohama. The event is usually ended with a gorgeous firework.


Aoi Festival


Aoi Festival in Kyoto ©Conveyor belt sushi/Flickr

Aoi (or hollyhock) Festival  is celebrated on May 15, at Kamigamo Shrine, Kyoto. It is considered as one of the oldest festivals of Japan, with more than 1000 years of past. People dress up in court dresses from the Heian Period and they follow a cart to Kamigamo Shrine from the Imperial Palace. On the way, people perform sacred music and dance. It is one of the most beautiful festivals of Kyoto.


Sanja Matsuri

Sanja matsuri

Crowd and portable shrines on Sanja Matsuri, Tokyo ©talloracle/Flickr

Sanja Matsuri is celebrated between 16-21 May, in Asakusa, Tokyo. It is Japan’s largest mikoshi festival, when more than one hundred portable shrines are placed around Sensoji Temple. People usually dress up in ancient Japanese costumes; so it is not a surprise to see geisha and samurai in these days. Sanja Matsuri attracts more than 2 million tourists every year.


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