July in Japan: Traditional Annual Events

June 6, 2012 by

Festivals & Events, Free Things to Do, Local Recommendations, Things To Do

Japan's Tanabata Star Festival

Japan's Tanabata Star Festival. Photo courtesy of ajari via Flickr.

Attendance at one or more of the many cultural and religious events and festivals that take place in Japan throughout the year can make your visit to the country particularly memorable. The following is a sampling of what’s available during the month of July.

Tanabata Star Festival (July 4-8)

One of the largest Tanabata festivals in the country (visited by millions annually), the Tanabata Star Festival in Shimizu evolved from the Chinese Star Festival. Bamboo rods covered with colorful decorations cover the downtown area. Children ask for better sewing, craftsmanship and writing skills, and write personal wishes on small pieces of paper.

Tokyo Summer Festival (all month)

Organized by the Arion-Edo Foundation, the Tokyo Summer Festival is a month-long celebration of music and culture. Conducted with a different thematic thrust each year (Pan-nationalist Music, Gypsies and European Music, Exoticism and Orientalism, etc.), this event is a singular occurrence in Japan (organized, as it is, by professional musicians).

Morning Glories & Ground Cherries (July 6-8 & 9-10)

During the first two weeks of the month, two festivals offer opportunities for good luck, special blessings and the chance to procure refined flora. Visitors to the Kishibojin Temple district in Tokyo from the 6th to the 8th can choose from hundreds of stalls selling morning glories as part of a festival to celebrate the beginning of summer.  In Tokyo’s Asakusa district, visitors flock to the Sensou-ji Temple from the 9th to the 10th for potted ground cherry plants that are on offer until late into the evening.

- John Reality

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