June in Japan: Traditional Annual Events

May 22, 2012 by

Festivals & Events, Sightseeing, Things To Do

Yukata Matsuri in Himeji, Japan

Yukata Matsuri in Himeji, Japan. Photo courtesy of cotaro70s via Flickr.

Travel in Japan is considerably enriched by attending one or more of the many cultural and religious events and festivals that take place throughout the year. The following is a sampling of what’s available during the month of June.

Iris Festival (June 1-20)
This annual celebration of all things iris-related is held in two locations in Tokyo beginning in early June. The festival has been celebrated at the Horikiri Shobuen Iris Garden since the Edo period. Today, there are more than 6,000 iris plants and 200 varieties on display. Festivities and flowers are also on hand at the waterside Mizumoto Park, including 80 varieties of iris and live music.

Inatori Dontsuku Festival (June 1-2)
The quiet seaside town of Inatori on the east coast of the Izu Peninsula comes to life on two successive evenings as portable shrines and revelers parade through the streets of the town each evening. There are costumes, traditional folk dancing, Taiko drumming and other activities, all of which culminate in a terrific firework display.

Aizen Festival (June 30-July 2)
If you’re going to be anywhere near Osaka on the last day of June, take care not to miss this delightful summer celebration of the Buddhist guardian god Aizen Myo-oh. Massive crowds turn out every year to take in the spectacle of glamorous geisha riding through the parade route on decorated palanquins.

Yukata Matsuri (June 22-24)
If you have children, this delightful festival in the city of Himeji is well worth checking out. Hundreds of open-air stalls line the streets as children dressed in Yukata (informal kimonos) walk from Himeji Castle to Osakabe Shrine.

- John Reality

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