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

Don’t miss this: If you like flowers, be on the lookout for June’s best-known summer blossoms: hydrangeas.

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

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1. Sanno Festival

June 7–17
Hie Shrine, Nagatacho
One of Tokyo’s three great festivals

People of all ages in traditional clothing taking part in the Hie Shrine Tenka Matsuri (or Sanno Festival) in central Tokyo
See a traditional procession in the center of Tokyo. | Photo by electravk/iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

Labeled one of Tokyo’s three great festivals (see the Kanda Matsuri and Sanja Matsuri for the other two), the Sanno Festival occurs only in even-numbered years — so count yourself lucky if you’re in Tokyo when it’s on. There are traditional performances every day at Hie Shrine, but the main event takes place on the first Friday and includes an elaborate procession featuring extravagant floats, musicians, and portable shrines.

The latter half of the festival features a large Bon dance in the evenings. Visitors are encouraged to dance in a circle around a stage — you don’t have to be an expert to join in.

2. Torigoe Festival

June 7–9
Torikoe Shrine, Taitō
Featuring the largest portable shrine in Tokyo

torigoe matsuri
Things really kick off at night during the Torigoe Festival. | Photo by Grigoris Miliaresis

The Torigoe (also spelled Torikoe) Festival is a Shinto festival that involves a procession. It’s much smaller in scale than the major festivals, but rowdy and crowded nonetheless. What sets it apart is that it features the largest mikoshi (portable shrine) in Tokyo — the four-ton Senkan-Mikoshi.

On the 9th (the main day of festivities), processions start as early as 6:30 a.m. and last well into the night (to around 9 p.m.). You’d be mistaken to think that the festivities taper off in the evening, 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. Bunkyō Hydrangea Festival

June 8–16
Hakusan Shrine, Bunkyō
Flowers and free toothbrushes!

hydrangeas in bloom
The famous summer flower. | 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 in and around Tokyo, but Bunkyō Ward puts 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, a procession, stalls every weekend, sketching meetups, and free toothbrushes — yes, really.

4. Tsukiji Lion Dance Festival

June 7–10
Namiyoke Inari Shrine, Tsukiji
See a parade of giant lion heads

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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. The main event takes place on the Sunday.

Street stalls will be buzzing 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.

5. Firefly festivals

June–July
All over and around Tokyo
Family fun with extra special lights

firefly festival tokyo
Light it up. | Photo by iStock.com/Diana Radicchi

Light up the start of your summer. 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, but note that some of the locations are not in central Tokyo. After all, you can’t really expect to see too many fireflies in this urban jungle.

6. Candle Night for 1 Million People

June 21
Zōjōji Temple, Shibakoen
Switch off the lights and turn on the candles

See more than 1000 candles at Zōjōji Temple near Tokyo Tower. | Photo by Oisix Ra Daichi

During the summer solstice each year, the lights of Tokyo Tower and buildings close to Zōjōji Temple are switched off for two hours and hundreds of candles are lit. This is to encourage thoughts about how we can best protect the earth and the people in it.

Stalls and kitchen cars will be open at the temple from noon on the day, but the lighting of the candles won’t start till around 6 p.m. and the lights won’t go off till 8 p.m.

7. Vietnam Festival

June 1–2
Yoyogi Park, Harajuku
Sample the very best phở in Tokyo

There are a lot of international festivals this month in Tokyo — see the Philippine Expo, Taiwan Festival, and Sri Lanka Festival for more — but the Vietnam Festival will be one of the biggest. Around 200,000 visitors attend each year to try the food (expect phở and bánh mì) and see the artists on stage at Yoyogi Park.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Post first published in May, 2016. Last updated in May, 2024, by Alex Ziminski.

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