The feeling of summer has returned! After a cool down during the pandemic, many Japanese summer festivals are back with a bang in Tohoku. Although the northern region is cooler than most of Japan during these months, Tohoku has some of the hottest summer festivals in terms of popularity!

With major fireworks displays, dancing festivals, traditional art, and more, Tohoku happens to be a great place to experience the culture of a Japanese summer festival. Let the exciting atmosphere move you and join in on the seasonal celebrations in Tohoku, Japan!

Explosive Tohoku Summer Fireworks Festivals

You can’t think of summer in Japan without thinking of incredible fireworks displays lighting up the night sky in spectacular fashion. Excitement skyrockets in the summer season as some of Japan’s greatest fireworks festivals burst onto the scene. If you have never experienced a Japanese fireworks show before, let your first time be in Tohoku, Japan. You definitely won’t be disappointed!

Akita Prefecture Summer Fireworks Festival: The Oomagari no Hanabi All Japan Fireworks Competition

One of Akita Prefecture’s most impressive sights in summer is the Oomagari no Hanabi All Japan Fireworks Competition. This event draws the best of the best fireworks displays in an explosive competition. Each year, spectacular and inventive fireworks burst above the excited crowd in a dazzling show of ingenuity and creativity. The fireworks are judged by their design, colors, and creativity.

The event is held at the end of August, and tickets for special seating go on sale a couple of months before the festival begins. Because it is so popular, be sure to get your tickets quickly if you want to get the best spot to see these incredible fireworks displays in Akita Prefecture.

Date: August 27, 2022
Web: (Japanese)

Niigata Prefecture Summer Fireworks Festival: The Nagaoka fireworks Festival Show

Japan is well known for its spectacular displays of dazzling fireworks. To be among the Japan’s top three fireworks displays is no easy feat, but the Nagaoka Grand Fireworks Festival has certainly earned its place. Over a two-day period, about 20,000 thunderous fireworks are launched, lighting up the night sky over the Shinano River.

The Nagaoka Grand Fireworks Festival began as Japan recovered from war. People who were lost during war are remembered as the fireworks brilliantly burst above, reminding people to keep looking up and build towards a brighter future. The fireworks are extraordinarily beautiful, but the story behind the event adds passion and heart, making the event shine above others.

The Nagaoka fireworks Festival Show is held on August 2 – 3. However, there is a museummuseum with a dome theater (Michi-no-Eki NAGAOKA HANABI-KAN) dedicated to the famous fireworks show that visitors can enjoy in any season.

Date: August 2-3, 2022

Tohoku Summer Festivals with Decorative Lanterns and Floats

Summer festivals in the Tohoku region are perhaps most known for their massive paper lantern sculpture floats that take over the evening streets joined by excited spectators and performers in August. The giants are a spectacle that you’re not like to find anywhere else! Don’t miss these incredible Tohoku summer festivals with decorative lanterns and floats.

Aomori Prefecture Lantern Float Summer Festival: Hirosaki Neputa Festival

Hirosaki is an old castle town in Aomori with rich folklore. From August 1 to 7, the Hirosaki Neputa Festival is held, showcasing the incredible crafts and culture of the region. During the celebrations, large fan-shaped lantern floats depicting gods and mythical figures are paraded through the streets.

Though the floats are often overshadowed by the famous Aomori Nebuta, the highlight of the Hirosaki Neputa Festival is its traditional music. Odaiko, or large traditional Japanese drums, accompany the floats and elevate the lively festival atmosphere. One enormous traditional drum featured in the festival is Tsugaru Joppari Odaiko which is 3.3 meters in diameter. With such huge drums at the Hirosaki Neputa Festival, you can imagine the thunderous sound echoing through the area.

Aomori Prefecture Lantern Float Summer Festival: Amori Nebuta Festival

From August 2 to 7, Aomori holds the Nebuta Festival each year. The event attracts massive groups of spectators who come to see the iconic Nebuta lanter floats. In fact, the Aomori Nebuta Festival is one of the Three Great Festivals of the Tohoku region, known as the Tohoku Sandai Matsuri.

There is no overstating the impressive size of the gigantic, glowing Nebuta lantern floats which can be up to nine meters wide and five meters tall. These dramatic floats mostly portray historic moments throughout Japan’s history or mythical figures from ancient Japanese culture. They are built from wire frames covered in painted washi paper.

During the festival, the colorful floats illuminate the streets of Aomori, as performers dance and chant along with festival participants. Some of the floats may even be paraded around the bay on boats, creating a spectacular scene. Bringing the festivities to a close is a dazzling display of Japanese fireworks.

Date: August 2-7, 2022

Akita Prefecture Lantern Pole Summer Festival: Akita Kanto Festival

The amazing Kanto Festival is held in Akita City each year from August 3 – 6. During the Kanto Festival, skilled performers hoist massive poles decorated with paper lanterns illuminated the streets in the evening. Together, the many swaying kanto poles and lanterns appear to form a golden field of rice when viewed from a distance. As you could guess by the striking imagery, the festival celebrations are held to pray for bountiful harvests.

The Akita Kanto Festival is one of the most famous festivals in the Tohoku region, not just for the spectacular lanterns. The impressive skill of the performers also wows spectators. A large kanto pole can be up to 12 meters long and weighs around 50 kilograms with a total of 46 lanterns. If that doesn’t seem amazing enough by itself, the performers also perfectly balance the poles on one hand, their foreheads, and shoulders.

Date: August 3-6, 2022

Aomori Prefecture Giant Lantern Summer Festival: Goshogawara Tachineputa Festival

Every August the Goshogawara Tachineputa Festival is held in Goshogawara, Aomori Prefecture. The main feature of this festival is its enormous tachineputa floats. Unlike the neputa floats of the famous Hirosaki Neputa Festival or Aomori Nebuta Festival, the tachineputa are stand tall at up to 23 meters in height! The size of the kabuki themed float is difficult to describe in words, so the Goshogawara Tachineputa Festival is something you just must see for yourself!

The festivities begin on August 4 with a spectacular fireworks display held by the museum. Then the tachineputa parade steals the show from August 4 – 8 as these glowing godlike figures take over the streets of Goshogawara.

Date: August 4-8, 2022
Web: (Japanese)

Niigata Prefecture Summer Festival: Castle Town Shibata Festival

Shibata is an old castle town in Niigata, Japan. Its castle has been rebuilt and now rests at the center of modern Shibata. Much of the charm of Shibata comes from Shibata Castle and the legacy it carries with it. In the summer, festivals add even more personality to Shibata.

After taking a break for a few years during the pandemic, the Castle Town Shibata Festival returns, much to the excitement of locals! During the summer evening festival, giant decorative lanterns and portable shrines travel through the city, accompanied by drums and dance performances. The Castle Town Shibata Festival events take place from mid to late-August.

Date: mid to late-August (Japanese)

Tohoku Summer Odori Dance Festivals to Get You on Your Feet

Summer festivals wouldn’t be the same without some dancing! In August, many festivals center around a bon-odori. These are traditional dances performed at events during the Obon holiday period in July or August. Many of these dances are passed down through generations and have been simplified so that the crowds can easily join in on the celebrations.

Akita Prefecture Summer Dance Festival: Nishimonai Bon Odori Festival

The Ugo Town in Akita Prefecture is home to the Nishimonai Bon Odori Festival which takes place every year from August 16 to 18. With 700 years of history, it has earned its place as one of the three most popular Bon Odori festivals in Japan.

The faces of the dancers are hidden by half-moon-shaped hats as they move beautifully around bonfires in the streets. The scene is enchanting as traditional music fills the air and the warmly lit streets pulsate with the dancing shadows. Another name for this mysterious festival is Mouja-Odori, or Dance of the Dead.

Iwate Prefecture Summer Dance Festival: Morioka Sansa Odori Festival

Iwate Prefecture is the second-largest prefecture in Japan and is home to some of the country’s most dramatic and breathtaking landscapes. It also hosts the popular Morioka Sansa Odori Festival, held from August 1 to 4, in the capital, Morioka.

The Morioka Sansa Odori Festival has made it into the Five Great Festivals of Tohoku. As 10,000 taiko drummers march through the streets of Morioka, it is easy to see, or hear, why this exciting festival is so loved.

The legend of the featured Sansa dance begins when the god of Mitsushi Shrine punished an evil demon and commanded it to never commit bad deeds again. As a sign of the promise, the demon left its handprint on a rock, giving Iwate (rock hand) its name. After the deal was struck, the people celebrated around the rock with the Sansa dance. The drums and performances now ward off the wicked demon.

Date: August 1-4, 2022

Yamagata Prefecture Summer Dance Festival: Yamagata Hanagasa Festival

The fields of Yamagata are colored with safflowers in summer, and locals celebrate these colorful blooms with many crafts and festivals like the Yamagata Hanagasa Festival. Spanning three exciting days, the streets of Yamagata City are alive with over 10,000 participants dancing and singing starting from the early evening.

Though the elegant yukata and decorations give the celebrations a traditional atmosphere, the Hanagasa Festival in Yamagata is relatively young. The origins date back to the 1963 Zao Summer Festival which was meant to promote tourism for the area during the off season.

The name of this festival comes from the flowery hats that the dancers wear as they perform. These hats are adorned with the iconic safflowers of Yamagata. Hanagasa Festival dances are simple while preserving their traditional origin, so that anyone can join in and take part in this Japanese culture. Two of the most popular dances are the Kunpu Mogamigawa, or Onna Odori, and the Zao Gyoko, or Otoko Odori.

Later in the evening, anyone can join in on the dancing with their own Hanagasa fan. Don’t be shy and celebrate the exciting summer evening in Yamagata, Japan at the Hanagasa Festival!

Date: August 5-7, 2022

Tohoku Summer Festivals with Giant Straw Sculptures

Japanese summer festivals can be just as creative as they are exciting. Whether it is colorful paper lanterns, choreographed fireworks displays, and so on, Japanese summer festivals never fail to disappoint! These unique summer festivals involve amazingly huge straw crafts created and cared for by Japanese town locals.

Fukushima Prefecture Summer Sandal Festival: Waraji Festival

Waraji, a traditional Japanese straw sandal, may seem like a strange subject to focus a city-wide festival around. But parading a gigantic straw sandal around the streets is one tradition that the people of Fukushima cherish to pray for strength and safe travels. The sandal is 12 meters long and 1.4 meters wide. Weighing about 2 tons, it takes over 100 people to support it as it travels through the city.

Who could wear such a massive Japanese straw sandal? It is believed that the waraji was made for the god Nio, who happens to have an enormous foot. The giant waraji is offered to the god at a shrine at the foot of Mt. Shinobu after a set of traditional dance and music performances by locals. Everyone is welcomed to dance together at the final dedication ceremony.

Date: First Friday to Sunday in August, 2022

Niigata Prefecture Summer Festival: Echigosekikawa Great Serpent Festival

The Echigosekikawa Great Serpent Festival is a spectacle you are not likely to see anywhere else! Fortunately, the serpent of this festival is not venomous at all. It is actually made from straw that weighs over 2,000 kilograms! The massive 82.8-meter-long snake has been paraded through town each summer since 1988 in this charming town in Niigata. At the end of the parade, the giant snake coils up in front of the Sekikawa Village Office. During the festivities, the tragic flood which happened to the town on August 28, 1967 is remembered.

In addition to the impressive serpent, a firework display and bon odori festival are held during the Echigosekikawa Great Serpent Festival at the end of August.

More Exciting and Artistic Summer Festivals in Tohoku

There are too many fun summer Japanese festivals to list in this article! Here are a few more great summer festivals in Tohoku that host a variety of events. Be sure to check them out if you are in Japan in summer!

Miyagi Prefecture Summer Festival: Sendai Tanabata Festival

The most popular tradition practiced during the Sendai Tanabata Festival is writing wishes on a colorful piece of paper and tying it to a bamboo tree. However, the Tanabata Festival in Sendai is out of this world! Keeping with the seasonality of the old festival, Sendai celebrates Tanabata from August 6 to August 8 instead of July 7 like most other places in Japan. The spectacular paper streamers that fill the air with colors make the festivities well worth the wait!

Each year, the people of Sendai create astonishing paper decorations using a traditional technique called yuzen. There are seven essential decorations which include fukunagashi, orizuru, tanzaku, kamigoro, toami, kuzukago, and kinchachu. Come see the incredible results of passionate Sendai artists in August for the Sendai Tanabata Festival!

Date: August 6-8, 2022

Akita Prefecture Summer Art Festival: Tanabata Edoro Festival

The Tanabata Edoro Festival in Yuzawa City, Akita Prefecture is an event taking place over three days at the beginning of August. The art-centered event displays beautiful traditional-style Japanese pictures illuminated by candles. The artists work carefully to paint on the delicate Japanese paper. They must consider how the colors will look once illuminated from behind by the lantern.

During the festival, houses hang five-color tanzaku strips and streamers from bamboo. It is said that the festival started a princess from Kyoto came to Akita after being married to a member of the area’s major clan. She began decorating with the five-color strips of paper tied to bamboo to remind her of Kyoto.

Date: August 5-7, 2022

Akita Prefecture Charming Summer Festival: Hanawabayashi Festival

Kazuno City in Akita Prefecture celebrates summer in late August with the Hanawabayashi Festival. Ten golden floats are paraded through the city to the rhythm of Japanese drums and flutes. Locals who tend to the floats compete to put on the best performance.

The celebrations have been held through many generations and has gone by many names. The earliest record of Hanawabayashi was in 1765. What remains constant is the exciting music which is dedicated to the Sachi Inari Shrine.

Date: August 19-20, 2022

Aomori Prefecture Summer Festival: Hachinohe Sansha Taisai Festival

Hachinohe Sanja Grand Matsuri

The Hachinohe Sansha Taisai Festival is the largest summer celebration in the Hachinohe region. The festivities begin at the very end of July and continue into the first week of August. Of course, the festival features a traditional parade of portable shrines and colorfully decorated floats.

The festival seems to have started in 1720, when the townspeople desperately prayed to the gods of Ogami Shrine after facing a bad harvest. When their prayers were answered, a portable shrine was built and was carried through the area the next year.

With loads of yatai carts selling goods accompanied by traditional dances, the Hachinohe Sansha Taisai Festival in Aomori is a prime example of the Japanese matsuri atmosphere.

Date: July 31- August 4, 2022

Fukushima Prefecture Summer Lantern Festival: Koriyama Uneme Matsuri

The streets Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture dramatically come to life from at the beginning of August (August 5-6, 2022) with thunderous drums as the area is beautifully lit by traditional uneme lanterns. Its origin is said to come from a legend of an Imperial Court Maid from the Nara period named Uneme.

The Koriyama Uneme Festival mostly centers around the Koriyama Ekimai-dor Street, where you will find plenty of shops and attractions. There is also a kids festival called the Chibikko Uneme Matsuri that the whole family can enjoy. Of course, you can also expect plenty of dancing at the Uneme Odorinagashi.

Date: August 5-6, 2022