July marks the start of the summer festival season, and that means fireworks, traditional matsuri, and plenty of yakisoba stalls.

Yoyogi Park is busy with large-scale events every weekend, and the Tanabata holiday paints the town of Asakusa in technicolor. Don’t miss out on the dancing, merriment, and summer atmosphere taking center stage this month.

For the top events in Tokyo throughout the year, check out our complete guide — organized by month.

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1. Fireworks festivals

Throughout July
All over and around Tokyo

summer fireworks in Tokyo
Photo by iStock.com/Torsakarin

Fireworks are back with a bang and this July and August, there is a colorful assortment of displays to be seen. There’s the massive Sumida River Fireworks taking place on July 29, as well as a few other mid-sized and smaller events on the same day. Take your pick of what style of party suits you. Here are a few:

2. Tanabata Festivals

Around July 7
All over and around Tokyo

Photo by iStock.com/winhorse

These festivals are known for their colorful decorations and events that celebrate the annual tanabata holiday on July 7. The tanabata legend speaks of two star-crossed lovers meeting on the Milk Way every year. For many, it is a time to write your wish on a strip of paper and tie it to some bamboo. There will be events all around Tokyo, with the main ones in Asakusa and Shonan, but there will be more moving into August.

Check them out:

3. Yoyogi Park Festivals

Throughout July
Yoyogi Park Events Square

Photo by Earth Garden Official Website

There will be a host of international and interesting festivals filling the Yoyogi Park Events Square this July. The Arabian Fes and Earth Garden market join forces for an unusual combination of eco-friendly products and belly dancing. Ocean Peoples Tokyo is billed as Japan’s largest beach-themed market and 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.

And Brazil Festival and Taiwan Festa will offer trucks of delicious regional dishes, as well as musical performances and plenty of dancing.

Check them out:

4. Shinjuku Eisa Festival


Shinjuku

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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 to gather to watch the performances. Arrive as early as possible.

5. Mitama Matsuri

July 13–16
Yasukuni Shrine, Kudanshita

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.

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