Japanese holidays and festivals in June

Japanese festivities during June

During the month of June, no Japanese national holidays take place. But, no stress, there are three nice Japanese festivals instead. Join us and celebrate the different festivals that take place in Japan during the month of June.

Atsuta Festival or Atsuta Matsuri (熱田祭)

This Japanese festival takes place on the 5th of June in Nagoya and is held at the Atsuta Jingu Shrine. This shrine is seen as one of the most sacred shrines in Japan and has more than 9 million visitors annually. It is believed that Kusanagi, the holy sword of the  Emperor and one of the three Imperial regalia, is kept here. During this festival, you can see a wide range of traditional Japanese arts such as taiko (Japanese drums), kendo (a Japanese sport with bamboo swords) and traditional dance. The festival starts at 10 a.m. at the shrine itself with a beautiful ceremony dedicated to the deities of the shrine and during the day you can see the Japanese arts. At night, the precinct around the shrine turns into a fair that has small stalls with food, beautiful lanterns and even a firework show at the end. However, the most popular attraction during this Japanese festival are the five Kento Makawari, huge floats that are decorated with lanterns and that are placed near the torii of the shrine.

Japanese parade

The parade!

Sannō Festival or Sannō Matsuri (山王祭)

This festival takes place in every year with an even number in the middle of June at Tokyo. This year it started on the 10th of June. It is one of the three greatest Shinto festivals in Tokyo and takes place for an entire week. It is mostly famous for its parade that starts and ends at the Hie Shrine, a shrine that houses the guardian deity of Tokyo. This shrine was associated with the Tokugawa family and in Japanese history this festival was held as a celebration of the nation’s political centre and those in charge. These days however, the parade is much smaller so it won’t interfere with the traffic that much. The parade of about 500 people dressed in colourful costumes, starts at the Hie Shrine at 7.30 a.m. and arrives at the Imperial Palace around noon. After a short break, the parade continues towards other shrines until it returns to the shrine. At the shrine, visitors can find a large straw ring standing in the middle of the shrine grounds. By walking through the ring, you can purify yourself.

One of the mikoshi during the festival.

One of the mikoshi during the festival.

Yotaka Festival or Yotaka Matsuri (夜高祭)

The last Japanese festival in this article has different dates depending on where it’s held but in the city of Tonami, it takes place on the 10th and 11th of June. This festival is held to make sure that the next harvest will be bountiful. During this festival, each neighbourhood makes its own giant lantern float and parade it through the city. The carriers drink sake and are being guided by people playing different music instruments. Once the mood is settled, each neighbourhood starts participating in the takiawase, a competition where the carriers climb on top of the floats and the floats collide with each other to try to destroy other floats. This tradition differs in each region, but in Tonami they charge each other head on and try to destroy the other float. In other regions, they will race side by side while trying to kick and punch the other float. You can watch a video of a collision here. As violent as this might seem, it is still a community activity and is meant to bring joy and fun!

Collision!

Collision!

These are the most important Japanese  festivals that take place in June. If you want to know more about this subject, feel free to contact us or write a comment.

We’ll be back next month to tell you more about the Japanese holidays and festivals that take place during July.

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