July usually marks the start of festival season, but in the cautious world of Japan in 2022, most big events (including the majority of fireworks festivals) remain canceled while others are scaled back. Despite the dearth of events, July of 2022 looks to be the most event-filled July since 2019. Here’s a list of events that are worth checking out.

1. Earth Garden Summer Festival and Arabian Fes (July 2–3)

These seemingly quite different festivals will be filling the Yoyogi Park Events Square for one of the first large scale events to be held here in a while. The Arabian Fes is being organized by commercial interests, so we’re picking that the event will be more Disney Alladin than authentic cultural celebration. Earth Garden is a quarterly market that deals in eco-friendly products.

2. Ocean Peoples Tokyo (July 9–10)

It may be ironic that an ocean/beach-themed festival will take place in Yoyogi Park, which isn’t even anywhere close to the waterfront, but hey, not everyone has the luxury of time and/or money to go to the beach! (Besides, Japan’s best beaches—down south in and around Okinawa—are quite expensive to get to.)

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Billed as Japan’s largest beach-themed market, Ocean Peoples Tokyo is a gathering of, well, people who love the ocean—not only the fun things associated with it, but also saving the waters and keeping them clean. With food, beach-themed goods, and feel-good music, this event guarantees good vibes for visitors of all ages.

3. Mitama Matsuri (July 13–16)

Held at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Kudanshita, this festival is famous for the 30,000 bright yellow lanterns that line the main approach to the shrine. Although the approach is quite wide, the festival attracts huge crowds, so is sure to be packed with locals who have dusted off their yukata and jinbei for a summer outing.

4. Ueno Summer Festival (July 22–24)

This festival usually runs for a full 5 weeks, but because COVID, it has been scaled down to a 3-day event. The highlight of the festival is usually a parade down Chuo Dori from Ueno Park on either the Saturday or Sunday. Organizers aren’t releasing much information about the schedule though, so it’s hard to tell if the parade will go ahead. Most of the stalls and food trucks are positioned next to Shinobazu Pond within Ueno Park.


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5. Shinjuku Eisa Festival (July 30)

An Eisa troupe showing the unique culture of Okinawa | Photo by Gregory Lane

This is your chance to see eisa, Okinawa’s traditional dance, without having to travel to Okinawa. Featuring brightly clad performers dancing, singing, and chanting to the accompaniment of drums and the sanshin (a three-stringed instrument that originated in Okinawa), eisa is an upbeat, colorful, energetic spectacle. It offers a different feel and sound from many other Japanese festivals, and the different teams performing at this festival will surely not disappoint. This is one of Tokyo’s popular summer festivals, so expect crowds gathering to watch the performances. Arrive as early as possible.

6. Tokyo Art Tank Vol. 7 – The Art of Summer in Japan

Tokyo Art Tank Gallery
Photo by John Meyer

Appropriately for the middle of summer, nine of Tokyo’s most creatively talented underground artists have developed their latest inspirational artworks that represent the brilliance of summer in Tokyo.

The first 20 people to visit the exhibition will receive free signed prints, stickers or other tangible art.

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