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. The weather probably doesn’t help matters, either. Still, that doesn’t mean that June doesn’t have its share of events, some of which we’ve compiled here. (And 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 here, but be warned that three out of the five locations in the article are not in central Tokyo (one is even in nearby Kanagawa Prefecture). After all, you can’t expect to see too many fireflies in the urban jungle that is central Tokyo!
2. International Tokyo Toy Show (June 3-4)
Where: Tokyo Big Sight East Halls 1-3 (access: Kokusai-Tenjijo or Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon Station)
Time: 9:00 am-5:00 pm (4:00 pm 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 1-4, but the first two days are only for business visitors. While it is a trade show, it also has its share of 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 kids might want to consider dropping by.
3. Tsukiji Shishi Matsuri (June 9-11)
Where: Namiyoke Inari Shrine (access: Tsukiji or Tsukiji-shijo Station)
Time: 12:00-10:00 pm (June 9-10), 6:00 am-10:00 pm (June 11)
Held every three years, this festival is significant to the locals of Tsukiji, as Namiyoke Inari Shrine, which is close to the outer portion of Tsukiji Fish Market, serves as the market’s guardian shrine of sorts. While the rest of the market will be moving to Toyosu sometime in the future, the outer market will stay, but this year might be your last chance to visit Tsukiji Fish Market in its current location and to see the festival while you’re at it.
The main event, which is on the 11th, is a mikoshi (portable shrine) procession. Worth noting are the huge, majestic lion floats (shishi means “lion”). Only men can carry the lion float, while only women can carry the lioness one. According to legend, the lions roar so fiercely that the whole world will obey when they do.
4. Torikoe Festival (June 10-11)
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 Kanda Matsuri and Sanja Matsuri (but rowdy and crowded nonetheless!), but what sets it apart from the rest 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 am and lasts well until nighttime (around 9:00 pm). 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. Salsa Street Festival (June 17-18)
Where: Keyaki Street/Yoyogi Park Events Square (access: Harajuku or Meiji-jingumae Station)
Time: 10:00 am-8:00 pm (7:00 pm on the 18th)
Dance your worries away at this lively festival! Featuring food, booze, music and, of course, salsa, this event is a celebration of Latin American and Caribbean cultures. Even if you think you have two left feet, don’t be shy to join the fun. You’re always welcome to join salsa lessons (which will be offered at the event for free) if you aren’t too confident in your skills.
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