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 (what with its spring festivals) and July, which marks the start of summer festival season. Still, that doesn’t mean that June doesn’t have its share of events, the best of which we’ve compiled here.
This year, a lot of events will be taking place on June 9-10 – looks like that will be quite the busy weekend! Aside from several of the events listed here, the monthly Oedo Japanese Antique Festival, Okinawa Festival, and the Salsa Street Festival will also be held on that weekend.
Also, if you like flowers, be on the lookout for June’s best-known blossoms: hydrangeas.
1. Firefly festivals (throughout June)
Where and when: Various locations
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 three out of the five locations in the article are not in central Tokyo (one is in nearby Kanagawa Prefecture). After all, you can’t really expect to see too many fireflies in the urban jungle that is central Tokyo.
2. Sanno Matsuri (June 7-17)
Where: Hie Shrine (Access: Tameike-sanno, Kokkai-gijidomae, Akasaka, or Akasaka-Mitsuke Station)
Time: 12pm-10pm (June 9-10), 6am-10pm (June 11)
One of Tokyo’s best-known festivals, the Sanno Matsuri is held during even-numbered years, alternating with Kanda Matsuri, which takes place during odd-numbered years. The main procession, which will be held this year on Friday, June 8, begins and ends at Hie Shrine, and passes the vicinity of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Station, Nihonbashi, and Ginza. This procession of mikoshi (portable shrines) and costumed performers starts early in the morning, around 7:30am, and ends at around 4:45pm.
If you want to start your day right, you can visit Hie Shrine on the morning of the parade and walk through a large ring of straw, which is supposed to purify your soul.
From June 7-17, as part of the festivities, there will also be other activities at Hie Shrine, such as tea ceremonies, plays, music performances, and ikebana (flower arrangement) demonstrations.
3. International Tokyo Toy Show (June 9-10)
Where: Tokyo Big Sight East Halls 1-3 (Access: Kokusai-Tenjijo or Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon Station)
Time: 9am-5pm (4pm on the last day)
Calling all toy lovers! This is Japan’s largest trade show devoted to toys. This event actually takes place from June 7-10, but the first two 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 in Hall 2—so families with children might want to consider dropping by.
4. Torikoe Festival (June 9-10)
Where: Around Torigoe Shrine (Access: Kuramae or Asakusabashi Station)
Time: All day
The Torikoe (also spelled “Torigoe”) Festival is another festival that involves a mikoshi procession. It’s much smaller in scale than major festivals like the Kanda Matsuri and Sanja Matsuri, but rowdy and crowded nonetheless! What sets it apart from the rest is that it features the largest mikoshi in Tokyo—the four-ton Senkan-Mikoshi.
On the 10th (the main day of festivities), this festival starts as early as 6:30am and lasts well until nighttime (around 9pm). 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.
5. Taiwan Festival Tokyo 2018 (June 21-24)
Where: Ueno Park (Access: Ueno Station)
Time: 10am-9pm (until 7pm on June 24)
Celebrate Taiwan’s rich culture – especially its delicious and flavorful cuisine—at the Taiwan Festival, which will take place at Ueno Park’s fountain plaza. With summer fast approaching, you can cool off with tropical fruits and/or fruit common to Taiwan—mangoes, pineapples, lychees, and more. And of course, there will be booze—the event isn’t also known as the Taiwan Beer Garden for nothing!
Food aside, visitors can enjoy stage performances and a lychee seed-throwing contest. The contest is open to the first 500 people to sign up, and winners can snag prizes such as 60kg of lychees and a round-trip flight to Taiwan.