Summer festivals may be drawing to a close, but the autumnal equinox means there are plenty of celebrations to check out in September.
The — hopefully — less humid weather makes BBQs and beer gardens bearable, and you’ll be itching to get out and see parades with floats, music, and dancers. There are also the unique flowers that pop up at this time of year. If you’d rather stay inside, you can watch the sumo wrestle to the top or play around at the Tokyo Game Show, one of the most anticipated gaming expos of the year.
1. September Grand Sumo Tournament (Sep. 11-25)
September sumo season is upon us. You could just catch the highlights on the TV, or you could take yourself down to Ryōgoku Kokugikan and get up close and personal with sumo’s biggest (literally) stars. The tournament will last for two weeks and coincide with two Japanese holidays. It’s a big stadium with many days on offer, so you’re likely to get a seat.
September Grand Sumo Tournament
2. Tokyo Game Show (Sep. 15–18 | Public days Sep. 17–18)
Japan’s largest gaming event (and one of the major entries on the global gaming calendar) continues to grow in scale and number of visitors each year — at least it did before the pandemic — so be sure to arrive early to make the most of the day.
The who’s who of the gaming industry will participate in the Tokyo Game Show, as well as rising talent such as indie developers. Be prepared for long, long lines as exhibitors offer test-plays of upcoming games, release event-exclusive merchandise, and more.
Tokyo Game Show 2023
3. Akasaka Hikawa Matsuri (Sep. 16-18)
If you like floats, you’ll love Akasaka Hikawa Matsuri. There will be many events held over three days in and around Akasaka, but the parades showing off the shrine’s traditional wheeled floats are a highlight. There will also be a Bon Odori dance festival and stalls over the long weekend, so you’ll find plenty to do.
Akasaka Hikawa Matsuri
4. Nakanobu Nebuta Festival (Sep 17)
Fighting for your attention is another float festival in Nakanobu, not far from Shinagawa Station. These colorful human-shaped floats are called nebuta, and their illuminated forms are impressive to see as they dance along to accompanying music. The most famous nebuta festival in Japan is in Aomori, but this scale-downed version is also worth a visit.
Nakanobu Nebuta Festival 2024
5. Nikkan Festival (Sep. 24, 25)
Held online and in-person, The Nikkan Koryu Matsuri (Japan-Korea Exchange Festival) celebrates the growing relationship between Japan and Korea. It will be held at Hibiya Park and will be filled with Korean food, Taekwondo displays, traditional dances, and even music — including a secret K-pop concert. There will also be a simultaneous festival happening in Seoul.
Bonus: Autumn Flower Festivals
As the season changes, autumn flowers are starting to bloom and with them a host of wonderful festivals to visit. Take a look at the ones starting in September.
September events going ahead with restrictions
The following events are going ahead but with restrictions on ticketing and venue capacity or changes to the normal schedule.
Typical September events still not going ahead
The following events have all been either canceled, or they’ve just disappeared over the last three years.
Wondering what other festivals there are coming up this year? Take a look at our list of ones you shouldn’t miss.
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