Rainy and humid June is the calm before the storm. That is, in terms of events and activities, it’s relatively quiet compared to May’s slew of spring festivals and July, which marks the start of the summer festival and firework season. Still, that doesn’t mean that June doesn’t have its share of events, the best of which we’ve compiled here.

Also, if you like flowers, be on the lookout for June’s best-known blossoms: hydrangeas.

1. Firefly festivals

All over and around Tokyo

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June is mating season for fireflies, so this is the time to see the little bugs aglow. We’ve got a compilation of firefly festivals in Tokyo, but note that some of the locations in the article are not in central Tokyo. After all, you can’t really expect to see too many fireflies in the urban jungle that is central Tokyo.

2. Torigoe Festival

June 9–11
Torikoe Shrine, Taitō

The Torigoe (also spelled “Torikoe”) Festival is a Shinto festival that involves a mikoshi (portable shrine) procession. It’s much smaller in scale than major festivals like the Kanda Matsuri and Sanja Matsuri but rowdy and crowded nonetheless! (And, like the aforementioned festivals, it has a long history dating back centuries.) What sets it apart is that it features the largest mikoshi in Tokyo — the four-ton Senkan-Mikoshi.

On the 11th (the main day of festivities), this festival starts as early as 6:30 a.m. and lasts well until nighttime (around 9 p.m.). You’d be mistaken to think that the festivities taper off at night because that’s actually when the festival becomes even more spectacular. Lanterns are illuminated and hung on the Senkan-Mikoshi for the miya-iri, the return ceremony.

3. International Tokyo Toy Show

June 10–11
Tokyo Big Sight, Ariake

Photo by Japan Toy Association via PR Times

Calling all toy lovers! This is Japan’s largest trade show devoted to toys. This event actually takes place two days before, but these days are only for business visitors. While it is primarily a trade show, it also has its share of fun activities, as some booths will have games, demonstrations, workshops, shows, and/or photo ops with mascots and popular characters.

It should go without saying that this is a very kid-friendly event — there’s even a kids’ life zone — so families with children might want to consider dropping by.

4. Bunkyō Hydrangea Festival

June 10–18
Hakusan Shrine, Bunkyō

Photo by Getty Images

Rainy season may be a mood killer for many, but it also brings about some of the most famous flowers on Japan’s calendar: ajisai (hydrangeas). There are many festivals to go to in and around Tokyo, but Bunkyō Ward put on one of the best. 3,000 hydrangeas will be in bloom around Hakusan Shrine and nearby Hakusan Park. Entry is free and there will be a lot of festivities, including concerts, mikoshi (portable shrine) procession, stalls every weekend, free toothbrushes — really — and sketching meetups.

5. Tsukiji Lion Dance Festival

June 9–11
Namiyoke Inari Shrine, Tsukiji

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The lion protector at Namiyoke Shrine. | Photo by iStock/tanukiphoto

What makes this festival different from all the other mikoshi (portable shrine) processions is the giant lion heads that are carried beside the shrines. On Saturday, you may also spot cute shrines with famous Japanese children’s characters on top, ushered in by local kids. The main event will take place on Sunday. Street stalls will be held throughout the weekend and there will be a small festival on Friday at 6 p.m. See our event listing below for the full schedule.

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