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Natsu matsuri - Tokyo summer festivals - Shitamachi Tanabata Festival, Iriya Asagao Matsuri & Sumida River Fireworks Festival



2019.06.27 (Thu)

Summer in Tokyo is hot but also a lot of fun. Check out the local festivals, they are a fun way to experience Japanese culture. Here are three events this July that let you experience a traditional Japanese summer festival. All events take place near Asakusa in Tokyo’s Taito Ward.

By David, long-term Tokyo resident & food-loving traveler

Shitamachi Tanabata Festival
July 6 & 7, 2019
The first decorations are already up on Kappabashi Hon-dori Street between Ueno and Asakusa where Tanabata or Star Festival will take place. As you can see in the picture, this street has a great view of Tokyo Skytree looking from Kappabashi towards Asakusa.On Saturday there will be parade from 13:15 and on Sunday there will be various performances from 11:00 and a flea market will be held from 10:00 to 15:00. Food vendors will put up their stalls for lots of good Japanese festival foods.
Enjoy the festival and make a wish. It is an old custom to write your wish on a piece of paper and put it up on a bamboo branch for July 7, the Tanabata day. The story behind Tanabata is an old story about star-crossed lovers only allowed to meet once a year on that day.

Iriya Asagao Matsuri - Morning Glory Flower Festival
July 6-8, 2019 from 5:00 to 23:00
This festival is a flower market with dozens of vendors showing off morning glories in different variations and colors. The market takes place next to the Iriya subway station and the Iriya Kishimojin Temple (Shingen-ji). Come see the different flowers and visit the temple. If you collect goshuin at shrines and temples, bring you goshuincho book. During the festival days, Kishimojin Temple is using a special stamp with flowers. Goshuincho books are like travel journals for visits to shrines and temples. Visits are marked with official stamps, the name of the place visite, and the date written by hand in beautiful calligraphy.
Morning glory flowers, called asagao in Japanese, have long been very popular in Tokyo. Even a person living in a tiny place can grow one in the summer. If you cannot take one home take pictures of the beautiful flowers.

Sumida River Fireworks Festival
July 27, 2019 starting from 19:00 to 20:30
Firework festivals have a long tradition in Japan. This is one of the biggest ones in Japan, taking place right in the middle of the city. Fireworks are set off from two platforms on Sumida River, one anchored between Sakura-bashi Bridge and Kototoi-bashi Bridge and the other between Komagata-bashi Bridge and Umaya-bashi Bridge. This means that you can see the fireworks from many different places along both sides of Sumida River. You can see traditional fireworks and also new creations. Watch out for fun hearts, smileys, or Pokemon-themed fireworks like Poke Balls or Pikachu’s face. Every year makers show off new colors and designs.
On both sides of the river, streets will be closed for traffic between 18:00 and 21:30. The closest subway stations to the river are Asakusa and Kuramae. Please note that it gets very crowded during the fireworks. In case of bad weather, the festival might be moved to the following day.

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