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…
Cultural in Sendai

Sendai Tanabata Matsuri

The Tanabata Matsuri celebrates a Chinese legend about two stars: Vega, a king’s daughter, who fell in love with Altair, a common herder. The king disapproved, so he formed the Milky Way between them. Once a year ma…
Parade in Aomori

Aomori Nebuta Matsuri

Aomori's Nebuta Matsuri has parades of spectacular illuminated floats, accompanied by thousands of rowdy, chanting dancers. The parades start at sunset and last for hours; on the final day the action starts at about…
Music in Naeba

Fuji Rock Festival

The Fuji Rock Festival now ranks among the most prominent music festivals in the world. Big-name acts across a variety of genres – with ample indie, pop and electronica – take the stage over three days. It's a peace…
Cultural in Akita

Akita Kantō Matsuri

At summer's height, Akita celebrates its visually stunning pole lantern festival. As evening falls more than 160 performers skilfully balance giant poles, weighing 60kg and hung with illuminated lanterns, on their h…
Cultural in Kakunodate

Kakunodate Sakura

On the river embankment, a 2km stretch of cherry trees becomes a tunnel of pure pink during the hanami (blossom viewing) season. Some of the shidare-zakura (drooping cherry) trees in the buke yashiki (samurai distri…
Music in Sendai

Jōzenji Street Jazz Festival

Hundreds of buskers from across Japan perform in Sendai’s streets and arcades. Book your accommodation way, way in advance.
Parade in Hirosaki

Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri

Giant illuminated floats parade through town, accompanied by flutes and drums for every night of Hirosaki's famed Neputa Matsuri. The festival is considered to signify ceremonial preparation for battle, expressing s…
Cultural in Dewa Sanzan


On New Year's Eve, yamabushi novices perform similar rituals to those of the mountain priests at the Hassaku Matsuri, competing with each other after completing a 100-day-long period of cleansing and self-deprivatio…
Cultural in Tōno

Tōno Matsuri

This flamboyant spectacle, involving prayers for a bountiful harvest, is deeply imbued with the legends of Tōno. There are yabusame events (horseback archery, in this case a 700-year-old event), traditional dances a…