Spring is a magical time in Tokyo. The sakura bloom in late march and everyone wants to be outside enjoying the good weather.
These are the best festivals Tokyo’s Spring has to offer.
1. Sanja Matsuri
Sanja Matsuri (third Saturday in May) is Tokyo’s biggest and wildest festival. The yakuza plays a prominent role in this festival (they sponsor many of the festival’s mikoshi).
The festival attracts up to 2 million party goers.
2. Kanda Matsuri
The Kanda Matsuri (closest weekend to May 15) is one of Tokyo’s big 3 festivals. Around 100 mikoshi are paraded through the streets. The festival also features dance performances.
3. Tokyo International Anime Fair
The Tokyo International Anime Fair (end of March) is otaku paradise. It’s the largest anime trade show in the world featuring 100s of booths and the Tokyo Anime Awards.
The event is four days. The first 2 days is open to industry insiders and press only. The last 2 days is open to the public.
4. Yushima Tenmangu Matsuri
The Yushima Tenmangu festival (end of May on even years). A large mikoshi festival at Yushima Tenmangu Shrine that features 25 mikoshi teams in different festive attire.
5. Sanno Festival (Hie Shrine)
The Sanno Matsuri (mid June) dates back to the Edo-era. It’s origins are related to the construction of Edo Castle. The festival was originally intended to please the gods before the Spring construction season (construction of Edo Castle lasted 43 years).
Today, it’s a quiet festival (as compared with rowdy festivals such as Sanja Matsuri). Around 500 people dressed in Edo-era imperial court attire embark on a incredibly long 25 kilometer parade through central Tokyo (it takes 9 hours). Needless to say, the festival isn’t popular with local taxi drivers.
6. Hanazono Shrine Festival (花園神社例大祭)
A large festival (end of May) at Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku.
7. Ueno Sakura Matsuri
One of Tokyo’s many sakura matsuri that take place at the end of March or beginning of April (when the sakura bloom). There are dozens of good spots to enjoy sakura in Tokyo.
8. Kurayami Matsuri (府中くらやみ祭り)
The Kurayami Matsuri (early May) has been held for almost 2000 years in Tokyo. Its name means “dark night” festival. Traditionally, houses in the neighborhood dim their lights on the evenings of the festival. The Kurayami Matsuri features mikoshi parades and music, horse riding and lantern hanging competitions.
The festival draws 300,000 to Okunitama Shrine each Spring.
10. Kanamara Matsuri
The Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) is a fertility festival held in early April at Kanayama shrine in Kawasaki.
The event raises money for HIV research.