It’s hot, bright and definitely a summer day in Japan. At night, the shrines and parks are decorated and people come out to watch fireworks, dance, or buy food from various colourful stalls. There are large summer festivals (matsuri) and small, local summer festivals, and they all have their own charm.

Edo Week Summer Festival in Ueno

Relive the old Edo in Ueno, Tokyo this summer at the Edo Week Summer Festival! Girls put on their cutest accessories and their yukata at Ueno Park. You can play games, do some shopping and or dance at the venue. Traditional hair pins, senbei art, and various other rarely seen Japanese goods can be found at the Edo Week festival. You can even learn how to wear a yukata and have your hair styled at the event!

In the summer, shaved ice is a must!

Despite the name Edo Week, the event lasted three days, from 26th to 29th July 2018. The event is often held in July, so be sure to look out for the event next year! Admittance is free.

Best parts: Japanese culture which is accessible even when you don’t understand Japanese. English guide services are available too!

Spot name: Ueno Park

  • Street address: 5-20 Uenokoen, Taito 110-0007, Tokyo Prefecture
  • Access: Walk for around 8 minutes from Ueno Station, Yamanote Line. Take the Park Exit.

Sugamo’s Cooling Bon Odori

An event held near the end of the July, Sugamo Bon Odori is a summer festival where you can dance with locals and snack on street food near the Kouganji Temple (高岩寺).

Originally, the bon dance is to welcome the spirits of the departed, similar to the hungry ghost festival in Malaysia. The Bon dance festival at Sugamo was held for the 34th time this year. In the sweltering hot summer heat, it’s a good thing the bon odori was held after the sun sets.

Most of the participants are locals, making it a great occasion to learn about the local Japanese culture directly. There are game stalls where you can hook up tiny figurines, and using toy guns to shoot prizes.