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 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.
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. Japan Media Arts Festival (June 1–16)
The Japan Media Arts Festival showcases award-winning and outstanding works in the divisions of animation, manga, art, and entertainment. These entries are from all over the world, so you’ll see the best of the best in media arts.
While the festival’s main venue is the futuristic, fun Miraikan museum in Odaiba, you can also expect film screenings, workshops, symposia, and more in various locations. For instance, in previous years, the National Art Center Tokyo has hosted a Japan Media Arts Festival exhibition.
3. Torikoe Festival (June 8–9)
The Torikoe (also spelled “Torigoe”) Festival is a Shinto 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! (And, like the aforementioned festivals, it has a long history dating back centuries.) What sets it apart from the rest is that it features the largest mikoshi in Tokyo—the four-ton Senkan-Mikoshi.
On the 9th (the main day of festivities), this festival starts as early as 6:30 am and lasts well until nighttime (around 9 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.
4. International Tokyo Toy Show (June 15–16)
Calling all toy lovers! This is Japan’s largest trade show devoted to toys. This event actually takes place from June 13 to 16, 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 3—so families with children might want to consider dropping by.
5. Salsa Street Festival 2019 (June 22–23)
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.
A famous park, a former black market and a whole heap of museums—get to know Ueno: