Fireworks. Traditional festivals. Anime conventions. Rock concerts. Tokyo has them all, and if you’re planning a trip, you’ll want to know the best events happening when you’re here.

Tokyo has festivals (matsuri) all year round that are tied to Japanese holidays, and so certain months of the year are busier than others. The same can be said for pop-culture events and live music.

Our Tokyo Cheapo event pages and Japan Cheapo event pages are — in our humble opinion — some of the best resources online for finding events in the capital and beyond. Explore further through those listings, or read on for the event highlights of the year in Tokyo.

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Looking for the best time to visit Tokyo and Japan? We’ve outlined the best seasons to explore Tokyo and Japan, depending on your interests.

Top January events in Tokyo

You’ll see lots of lines at shrines and temples during Hatsumōde. | Photo by Gregory Lane

The beginning of the year sees locals taking time off work to travel and visit relatives. This means there is plenty of entertainment in the form of bonfires, markets, and continuing illuminations to keep visitors busy.

Check out what else there is to do in our full January event listings.

Hatsumōde

Hatsumōde is the tradition of visiting a shrine or temple in the first few days of the year (usually from January 1 to 3). Join the locals and pray for wealth and longevity for the future — or just check out the ceremonial fires, performances, and daruma markets.

Read our article on New Year’s traditions in Tokyo to see which events to join and temples to visit.

January Grand Sumo Tournament

This is the first Grand Sumo Tournament of the year and like all the others, involves a passionate audience with heckling, banner shaking, and sumo wrestler merch. Tickets on the official website are often sold out quite quickly, but there are plenty of tours to join that will get you in.

Not here during a sumo tournament? There are plenty of other ways to satiate your sumo cravings.

Tokyo Auto Salon

Cars. Cars. And more cars. Don’t miss this convention if you are a fan of customized automobiles. You’ll get to see new and upcoming cars in the industry, as well as eyeball the latest accessories, parts, and other types of merchandise. We aren’t kidding when we say that Tokyo Auto Salon is one of the biggest automobile shows in the world.

Top February events in Tokyo

A beautiful shot of early-blooming cherry blossoms in Matsuda. | Photo by Getty Images

February! The month of demons and Valentine’s Day. A whisper of spring also makes its way to the capital in the form of plum blossoms and early-blooming cherry blossom festivals.

Don’t forget the Emperor’s birthday on February 23 — one of the only days of the year you can go inside the Imperial Palace’s grounds!

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Check out what else there is to do in our full February event listings.

Setsubun

Taking place on February 3 every year, Setsubun involves throwing roasted soybeans at demons (usually parents in bright red masks). It is done to get rid of bad luck and evil spirits and welcome good fortune.

Large temples and shrines in and around Tokyo will take part, but our favorite festivals take place at Asakusa’s Sensōji Temple and on the streets of Shimokitazawa.

Lunar New Year

The Chinese Lunar New Year takes place around the new moon between January 21 and February 20 each year, and if you want to celebrate it, Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, is the place to be.

Yokohama’s Chinatown has 15 days of fun, from the celebration parade to lion dances and traditional performances. One of the highlights is the Lantern Festival, which is on the last day.

Early-blooming cherry blossom and plum blossom festivals

It’s never too early for spring, and by the end of the month, plum blossoms and Kawazu-zakura (early-blooming cherry blossoms) will have bloomed. We have a long list of places to see both.

For plum blossoms, see our top ume spots and festivals in Tokyo — we’d pick Yushima Tenjin and Kameido Tenjin Shrine as a couple of the best.

And for the early-blooming sakura, read our full guide on Kawazu-zakura — popular spots include Matsuda, Miura-kaigan, and Kawazu Town, but you can also find them in local Tokyo parks.

Top March events in Tokyo

Lay out a picnic blanket under the beautiful cherry blossoms. | Photo by Aimee Gardner

March means the start of spring flower festivals and also marks Hinamatsuri, Girls’ Day, on the third, as well as St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t forget the cherry blossoms, which will start blooming towards the end of the month, depending on the cherry blossom forecast.

Check out what else there is to do in our full March events listings.

Anime Japan

Anime and manga fans won’t want to miss Anime Japan, held in March every year. The sprawling convention has merch stalls, stage performances, and the biggest names in the anime industry. One of the jewels of the festival is seeing cosplayers from all around Japan dress up as their favorite characters.

Cherry blossom festivals

One of the busiest times of the year for Tokyo is when the cherry blossoms (sakura) start blooming. The local festivals are in full swing usually by the end of the month, and Tokyo’s green spaces are teeming with picnic blankets.

The most famous sakura events are held in Ueno Park and along the Meguro River.

We have a comprehensive guide on the very best of Tokyo’s cherry blossom festivals, as well as top spots to visit in spring.

Sensōji Temple Golden Dragon Dance

The Golden Dragon Dance is a traditional event that’s held on March 18 each year at Asakusa’s Sensōji Temple. As the name suggests, this festival features a golden dragon held aloft in the air by around seven men. The dragon moves beautifully around the precinct, but be warned that if it rains, the event will be canceled.

Top April events in Tokyo

kanamara penis festival
An unusual festival, to say the least. | Photo by iStock.com/Joshua Hawley

The days and nights get warmer in April, meaning more outdoor events in places like Yoyogi Park, and flowers like azaleas making a statement. Miss the cherry blossoms? There will still be late-blooming cherry trees in April. While the last of the cherry blossom petals will fall, there will still be other pink things to think about …

Check out what else there is to do in our full April events listings.

Kanamara “Penis Festival”

This traditional festival is one of the most unusual, and most popular, on this list — any guesses why?

On the first Sunday of April each year, special members in the form of phallic statues are paraded through the streets of Kawasaki atop mikoshi (portable shrines). It gets very busy, and you can expect to find all sorts of phallus-shaped gifts and snacks to buy.

Ichiyo Cherry Blossom Festival

This parade is a little calmer than the last and involves a reenactment of a colorful procession of oiran (courtesans) from the Edo period. Along with elaborate kimono, you can also spot the late-blooming cherry blossoms known as ichiyo — that’s where the name comes from.

Nezu Shrine Azalea Festival

Perhaps one to avoid on the weekend, the Nezu Shrine Azalea Festival is a beautiful sight. It combines the purples, whites, and pinks of azalea bushes with the orange of a path flanked by dozens of torii gates — akin to the popular Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Top May events in Tokyo

Don’t miss the rowdiness of the Sanja Festival in May. | Photo by Grigoris Miliaresis

Golden Week is usually a busy but eventful week at the end of April and the start of May. Parks will be full of activity, including flying carp streamers to celebrate Children’s Day, so it’s worth a peek. Outdoor festivals become more prominent, usually involving a lot of beer.

Check out what else there is to do in our full May events listings.

Sanja Matsuri (Festival)

Taking place over the third weekend of May, the Sanja Festival is a feisty gathering of tattooed men jousting with portable shrines (mikoshi) on their shoulders. If things get too rowdy, you may see men in loin cloths riding atop the shrines trying to throw each other off (while prohibited, it still happens). Go on Sunday for the liveliest experience.

May Grand Sumo Tournament

This is the second Grand Sumo Tournament of the year in Tokyo, and like all the others, involves a passionate audience with heckling, banner-shaking, and sumo wrestler merch. Tickets on the official website are often sold out quite quickly, but there are plenty of package tours to join.

Not here during a sumo tournament? There are heaps of other ways to satiate your sumo cravings.

Design Festa

Design Festa is a huge convention for creatives and artists. It takes place in both spring and fall. You can watch live painting on canvases, create your own artwork, or check out the performances on stage. There will also be plenty of booths to visit, so you can pick up a unique souvenir from a local artist.

Top June events in Tokyo

Don’t miss the hydrangeas in June. | Photo by Getty Images

The start of summer is creeping in as June begins. Portable shrines, known as mikoshi, are paraded through the streets in many separate festivals that will continue into autumn. June is also known for its rainy days, so events tend to be sparse compared with the rest of the year, but it is the best time to see hydrangeas.

Check out what else there is to do in our full June events listings.

Firefly festivals

While not the most prevalent in the ever-glowing city of Tokyo, fireflies do have a special place in the yearly event calendar. While not occurring naturally, fireflies will be released into a blacked-out dome erected for the Setagaya Firefly Festival and also by the riverside during the Kugayama Firefly Festival.

Find out more places to see fireflies in and around Tokyo in our article Top 6 Firefly Nights Around Tokyo.

Torigoe Festival

The Torigoe Festival is known for locals carrying huge portable shrines on their shoulders and parading around the streets of southern Asakusa.

Crowds are thick and along with cheering on the four-ton shrines, people also flock to the surrounding food stalls. This is a great place to experience festival food in Tokyo — grab a chocolate-dipped banana, noodles, and a can of beer.

Tsukiji Lion Dance Festival

Another popular traditional festival can be found in Tsukiji during June. The Lion Dance Festival adds a little something extra to the mikoshi (portable shrine) processions often found at this time of year.

Along with the shrines, there will be grandiose lions’ heads bobbing along. The roads will be closed, and instead of cars, they will be filled with people.

Top July events in Tokyo

The Kamakura Fireworks are one of the most popular displays. | Photo by Getty Images

July is the start of the really big summer festivals, including top fireworks displays and the Tanabata holiday on July 7 — a time to write your wish on a strip of paper and tie it to some bamboo. Parades and cultural festivals are also not unheard of at this time of year.

Check out what else there is to do in our full July events listings.

Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival

This is the biggest fireworks display on the Tokyo events calendar. You’ll need to reserve accommodation and consider your plan way in advance if you plan to be in the center of the action in Asakusa, but we have some quieter viewing spots in our event listing.

The show usually lasts for an incredible 1 hour and 30 minutes and features around 20,000 fireworks — some with anime themes.

Read our full guide on how to survive the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival.

Mitama Matsuri

Mitama Matsuri (Festival) also lights up the night sky, but instead of using fireworks, Yasukuni Shrine displays 30,000 lanterns. This festival lasts for four days starting from July 13 each year and honors the spirits of the dead.

Fuji Rock Festival

Fuji Rock has made a name for itself as one of the biggest music festivals in Japan. Big names in the industry fly over to perform at this mammoth party — in the past, Foo Fighters, The Cure, and The Strokes have headlined. Tickets might set you back around ¥25,000, but it is an experience.

Top August events in Tokyo

Photo by Suginami Ward (with permission)

August days are generally too hot for prolonged periods outside — an exception is the Fukagawa Festival, which includes a refreshing dose of water. The heat is why you’ll find many night-time dance festivals at this time of year — as well as lanterns.

Check out what else there is to do in our full August events listings.

Bon Odori Festivals

Bon Odori are dance festivals that take place around the Japanese holiday of Obon (or Bon) in August. It is believed that dead ancestors visit the living and these dances are held to welcome them. The most visited events are Tsukiji Honganji Bon Dance Festival and Hibiya Park Bon Odori Festival.

Kōenji Awa Odori Festival

Awa Odori dance festivals originated as a type of Bon Odori, but soon took on a life of their own. Awa Odori is the more energetic of the two and the most famous festival in Tokyo is the Kōenji Awa Odori Festival. Thousands of dancers take to the streets along with thousands of spectators.

Summer Comiket

If you’re into anime and manga, you may want to visit the Comiket convention held in summer and winter each year. Entry prices can be as low as ¥500 for half a day, and you’ll get to see incredible cosplayers dressed as original and well-known pop-culture characters.

Top September events in Tokyo

The fun doesn’t stop at Tokyo Game Show. | Photo by Victor Gonzalez

Summer festivals are winding down in September, but there are still plenty to see. Take the chance for cooler weather by visiting some autumn flower festivals or beer gardens.

Check out what else there is to do in our full September events listings.

Red Spider Lily Festival

This quiet flower festival has boomed in popularity in the last few years and while the journey there takes around an hour, it’s worth it to see a forest floor dyed red with spider lilies. Entry is cheap and there are plenty of hiking trails to traverse around the Kinchakuda Fields in Hidaka, Saitama.

Tokyo Game Show (TGS)

TGS is one of the largest gaming conventions in Japan, if not the world. Industry giants — such as Konami, Nintendo, Square Enix, Sega, and Bandai Namco — take to the stages and booths of the Makuhari Messe convention center. Of course, there will also be cosplay, merchandise offers, and unexpected announcements to look forward to.

September Grand Sumo Tournament

This is the last sumo tournament of the year in Tokyo (but you can always check it out elsewhere in Japan). Like all the others, it involves a passionate audience with heckling, banner shaking, and sumo wrestler merch. Tickets on the official website are often sold out quite quickly, but there are plenty of combo tours to join.

Not here during a sumo tournament? There are plenty of other ways to satiate your sumo cravings.

Top October events in Tokyo

tokyo halloween
Get a fright on Tokyo’s streets during Halloween. | Photo by Adrienne Mah

The spookiest month of the year means Halloween events are prevalent. But don’t miss out on ancient Edo festivals, dance contests, and fireworks.

Check out what else there is to do in our full October events listings.

Tokyo Ramen Festa

Food festivals are commonplace in Tokyo throughout the year, but none do it quite like the Tokyo Ramen Festa.

Spanning around 11 days, this gathering of ramen booths offers around 28 different types — so go hungry. This is your chance to try out ramen from all over Japan, without leaving Tokyo.

Tamagawa Fireworks Festival

On the banks of the Tamagawa River, every October is a fireworks display with hundreds of thousands of attendees. Futako-Tamagawa is a popular spot for families, so you’ll want to get there early to secure a spot at the front.

Bake Neko Cat Festival

Expect to find kitty cats in human form at the Bake Neko Festival in Kagurazaka. It takes place a couple of weeks before Halloween each year, and features parades of dressed-up festival goers in feline attire. You can even join in yourself if you’re so inclined. Everyone comes in a unique style, so you’ll get to see spooky cats, samurai cats, cute cats, and even real cats.

Kawagoe Festival

Kawagoe is a quaint Edo-style town to the north of Tokyo, but on the days of the Kawagoe Festival things get a whole lot rowdier. The main celebrations include several towering festival floats lit up in the evening, with music blasting from each. But you’ll find the streets crowded all day with plenty of activities to see.

Top November events in Tokyo

November is the time of year in Japan for kōyō (the viewing of autumn leaves), but on the days when you’re not getting out into nature, you’ll want to visit chrysanthemums festivals, illuminations, and food festas.

Check out what else there is to do in our full November events listings.

Tori-no-ichi fairs

Tori-no-ichi are markets held throughout Tokyo — the biggest are in Shinjuku and Asakusa — near the end of the year. Vendors sell talismans for luck and prosperity in the form of kumade (ornamental rakes).

The rakes are usually bought by local businesses, but the fair’s hustle and bustle is worth a view even if you don’t take something home with you. If you want to get the full experience, go in the evening.

Autumn illuminations

Autumn illuminations and festivals are a great way to see the falling yellow and red leaves in Tokyo. There are quite a few to choose from, but the most iconic view is the ginkgo trees that line the Ichō Namiki Avenue for the Meiji Jingu Gaien Autumn Leaves Illumination event, and the Hachiōji Ginkgo Festival.

Winter illuminations

November is also the start of the winter illuminations, which are worth going to before December to beat the crowds. Add a twinkle in your eye while perusing the stalls and music shows that often pop up beside the light-ups. Or head to a theme park dedicated to night lights for an adrenaline overload.

Our top picks for illuminations are found in Roppongi Hills, Marunouchi, and at Tokyo Mega Illumination.

Read our full list of the best winter illuminations for the year.

Top December events in Tokyo

The temperature drops and the Christmas market stalls come up. December is all about the illuminations and yuletide, but there are also countdown parties to look forward to and more traditional ways to spend the end of the year in Japan.

Check out what else there is to do in our full December events listings.

Christmas markets

Tokyo has quite a few yuletide markets to get you in the Christmassy mood, if you’re so inclined. These take place all around Tokyo and get busy no matter where you are.

The Azabudai Hills Christmas Market is free and less well-known than the mammoth paid markets such as Tokyo Christmas Market and Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market.

See our full list of Christmas markets in Tokyo.

Tokyo Comic Con

Comic Con is famous the world over, but Japan has its own spin. A city known for its cosplay events, Tokyo just does dress-up better. Not only that, but this comic book convention invites A-list celebrities from all over the Marvel, DC, fantasy, and superhero universes — and a lot of them don’t miss the opportunity.

Note that the convention is sometimes held in November.

Odaiba Rainbow Fireworks

Fireworks are not just a summer event, and December sees one of the most anticipated displays. Colorful fireworks are set off in front of Tokyo’s skyline in Odaiba almost every Saturday in December. The show only lasts for 5 minutes, but is fabulous. Check out all the other things to do in Odaiba, to make a day of it.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change.

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