Top Choice Art in Naoshima

Setouchi Triennale

This festival of art, music, drama and dance comes around every three years and has a packed calendar of events occurring on multiple Inland Sea islands, many on Naoshima. Previous schedules have been spread across …
Top Choice Cultural in Sapporo

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri

Held in early February, this is one of Japan's top festivals. From humble beginnings in 1950, when local high-school students built six snow statues in Ōdōri-kōen, the festival now hosts an international snow sculpt…
Top Choice Religious in Miyajima


This Shintō ritual sees decorated wooden boats float by to the sound of traditional drums and flutes. It's held in summer, starting early evening on the 17th of the sixth lunar-calendar month (late July/early August…
Top Choice Cultural in Osaka

Tenjin Matsuri

This is one of Japan's three biggest festivals. Try to make the second day, when processions of mikoshi (portable shrines) and people in traditional attire start at Osaka Tenman-gū and end up in hundreds of boats on…
Top Choice Cultural in Tsuwano


At Washibara Hachiman-gū (鷲原八幡宮), south of town about 4km from the station, crowds gather to watch archery contests on horseback on the second Sunday in April.
Parade in Takayama

Takayama Matsuri

One of Japan's great festivals, the Takayama Matsuri is in two parts. On 14 and 15 April is the Sannō Matsuri, when a dozen decorated yatai (floats) are paraded through the town. Hachiman Matsuri, on 9 and 10 Octobe…
Cultural in Tokyo


Cherry-blossom-viewing obsession takes over as locals flock to the city's parks and cemeteries from late March to mid-April for parties under the trees.
Cultural in Sado-ga-shima

Earth Celebration

One of Sado's biggest drawcards is this three-day music, dance and arts festival, held during the third week in August. The event features okesa (folk dances), onidaiko (demon drum dances) and tsuburosashi (a phalli…
Parade in Nagahama

Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri

The town's most famous festival, Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri, takes place from 14 to 16 April. The highlight is costumed five- to 13-year-old children performing kabuki (stylised Japanese theatre) plays aboard a dozen…
Parade in Hida-Furukawa

Furukawa Matsuri

Furukawa Matsuri – informally known as Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Festival) – takes place every 19 and 20 April with parades of yatai (festival floats). The highlight is an event known as Okoshi Daiko in which, on the ni…