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2019 May Best Events in Japan

With spring well and truly set in, May is a magnificent time to be in Japan, not least because of all the festivals and events taking place. To help you plan your trip, we’ll introduce some of the most popular festivals happening across the country in May and some of the interesting events taking place in Tokyo.

2019 May Best Events in Japan

Index

  • Goryokaku Park’s cherry blossoms (五稜郭公園の桜)

  • Koinobori and Children's Day (こいのぼりと子供の日)

  • Kutani Chawan Festival (九谷茶碗まつり)

  • Hakata Dontaku (博多どんたく)

  • Clam Digging (潮干狩り)

  • Kanda Matsuri and Sanja Matsuri (神田祭 と 三社祭り

  • Manpaku (まんパク)

  • Design Festa

  • Roppongi Art Night

  • Goryokaku Park’s cherry blossoms (五稜郭公園の桜)

    Goryokaku Park’s cherry blossoms

    Goryokaku Park’s cherry blossoms

    Once the hanami season has been and gone on Honshu Island, head north to Hokkaido where things are just getting started in early May. Hokkaido’s cherry blossom season is predicted to begin around Golden Week, with Goryokaku Park in Hakodate City one of the best places to admire the trees ignited in pink. Be sure to climb the 90-meter-high Goryokaku Tower for sweeping views across the park and its star-shaped castle fortifications.
    URL:http://www.goryokaku-tower.co.jp/en/

    Goryokaku Park’s cherry blossoms

    Goryokaku Park’s cherry blossoms

    Goryokaku Park’s cherry blossoms

    Goryokaku Park’s cherry blossoms

    Goryokaku Park
    Address
    Hokkaido Hakodateshi Goryoukakuchou 44
    Phone
    0138315505
  • Koinobori and Children's Day (こいのぼりと子供の日)

    Koinobori

    Koinobori

    The final day of Golden Week (May 5) is marked across Japan by Children’s Day, which honors the youth and their future as healthy and strong individuals. In the lead up to the event, koinobori (carp-shaped windsocks) are flown above houses with children and the world’s largest Koinobori Festival (the Koinobori Village Festival) takes place. It’s held every year from late March to early May in the city of Tatebayashi in Gunma.

    Tatebayashi Koinobri Festival

    Tatebayashi Koinobri Festival

    Traditionally, koinobori would be created in sets, with a black one representing the father and a red one his eldest son while a Gogatsu Ningyo warrior doll was also displayed in the home. However, after Boy’s Day was changed into Children’s Day, the red koinobori now represents the mother and different colors are used to represent both sons and daughters.

    Gogatsu ningyo

    Gogatsu ningyo

    Tatebayashi City Office
    Address
    Gunma Tatebayashi Shiro Machi 1-1
    Phone
    0276724111
  • Kutani Chawan Festival (九谷茶碗まつり)

    From May 3 to 5, the Kutani Chawan Festival will take place at Ishikawa’s Kutani Pottery Village, offering Kutani pottery items at alarmingly low prices. Aside from shops selling both traditional and modern wares, there will be food stalls set up where you can try the local delicacies.

    Prior to the main festival, a Pre-Kutani Cha-Sen Festival will also be held from April 20 to 21 at the Aeon Mall Shin-Komatsu where you’ll be able to purchase Kutani-yaki specialities and everyday items at affordable prices. A special Kutani nail demonstration will also take place, with Kutani pottery designs being created as nail art.
    URL:http://www.shinkutani.jp/english/english_top.html

    Kutani Nail

    Kutani Nail

    Kutani Nail

    Kutani Nail

    Kutanitogeimura
    rating 16 Reviews
    Address
    Ishikawa Pref. Nomishi Izumidaimachi Minami 22
    Phone
    0761586102
  • Hakata Dontaku (博多どんたく)

    Hakata Dontaku / Photo by Hakata City

    Hakata Dontaku / Photo by Hakata City

    One of the largest festivals in Japan, the Hakata Dontaku has been taking place in Fukuoka for more than 800 years and is scheduled from May 3 to 4 this year. Its name originates from the Dutch word “zondag” meaning “Sunday” or “holiday” and once referred to any festival being held on holidays.

    The Hakata Dontaku is marked by the grand Hakata Matsubayashi procession through the streets of Hakata, led by three gods of fortune riding on horseback. Dancers wearing traditional dress and musicians also parade through the streets, as do large trucks decorated with flowers, and live music is performed at stages around the city.
    URL:https://www.dontaku.fukunet.or.jp/english/parade

    Hakata Dontaku / Photo by Hakata City

    Hakata Dontaku / Photo by Hakata City

    Hakata Dontaku / Photo by Hakata City

    Hakata Dontaku / Photo by Hakata City

    Hakata
    Address
    Fukuoka Pref. Fukuokashihakataku Hakataekichuougai
    Phone
  • Clam Digging (潮干狩り)

    Clam Digging

    Clam Digging

    April to June is the season for clam digging in Japan when families grab their buckets and spades and head our to muddy beaches to dig for their dinner. Chiba Kisarazu is a popular clam digging destination near Tokyo and becomes crowded with people during the weekends in May due to the comfortable water and air temperatures.

    If you don’t have your own equipment, don’t worry, as you can buy buckets, net bags and digging rakes at the beach. Most clam digging destinations will open a few hours before and after low tide when the conditions are at their best. Don’t forget to bring your hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water!

    Clam Digging

    Clam Digging

    Clam Digging

    Clam Digging

    Kisarazu Beach Clamming Ground
    Address
    Chiba Pref. Kisaradushi Nakanoshima
    Phone
    0438234545
  • Kanda Matsuri and Sanja Matsuri (神田祭 と 三社祭り

    May also sees Tokyo celebrating two of its three major Shinto matsuri (festivals) - the Kanda Matsuri (May 9 to 15) and the Sanja Matsuri (May 17 to 19).

    Kanda Matsuri

    Kanda Matsuri

    The Kanda Matsuri only takes place during odd-numbered years and is a celebration for the wealth and good fortune of people. It is marked by a day-long procession through central Tokyo on the Saturday and a parade of portable shrines through various neighborhoods on the Sunday. The festival originated during the Edo Period and is associated with the Kanda Myojin Shrine, which enshrines the deities of Daikokuten, Ebisu and Taira Masakado.

    Sanja Matsuri

    Sanja Matsuri

    Sanja Matsuri

    Sanja Matsuri

    The Sanja Matsuri is one of the largest and wildest festivals in Tokyo, honoring the three men who founded Sensoji and taking place at the Asakusa Shrine. It features a parade of mikoshi (portable shrines), which are taken through the streets to bring good fortune to the local businesses and residents, as well as plenty of traditional music and dancing.

    For more information, please check the planned schedule and details on the shrines’ official webpages.
    URL:https://www.kandamyoujin.or.jp/kandamatsuri/
    URL:https://www.asakusajinja.jp/english/

    Kanda Shrine (Kanda Myojin)
    Address
    Tokyo Chiyoda-ku Sotokanda 2-16-2
    Phone
    0332540753
    Sensoji Temple
    Address
    Tokyo Taito Asakusa 2-3-1
    Phone
    0338420181
  • Manpaku (まんパク)

    Manpaku

    Manpaku

    Held at the Showa Memorial Park, this huge food festival will be taking place from May 16 to June 3 this year. It’s divided into around 12 different areas, including sections dedicated to seafood and meat, as well as regional delicacies from across Japan. Feast on steaming hot ramen and golden gyoza dumplings or opt for a healthier treat at the salad bar, all washed down with local brews.

    The name Manpaku is a play on the words “manpuku” (enjoy food to the fullest) and “mankitsu hakurankai” (enjoy the exhibition to the fullest), so it guarantees to be a stomach-filling experience. The Showa Memorial Park can be reached along the Chuo Line to Nishi-Tachikawa Station or is around 15 minutes’ walk from Tachikawa Station.

    Manpaku

    Manpaku

    Manpaku

    Manpaku

    Ticket Prices:
    Weekdays:
    General (high school and older) 500 yen
    Children (includes elementary and junior high school students): Free
    Saturdays, Sundays and holidays:
    General (high school and older) 800 yen
    Children (includes elementary and junior high school students): Free

    Showa Kinen Park
    Address
    Tokyo Tachikawashi Midorichou 3173
    Phone
    0425281751
  • Design Festa

    Design Festa

    Design Festa

    The largest art event in Asia, the Design Festa will be taking place from May 18 to 19 at Tokyo Big Sight’s West Hall. Around 70,000 people are expected to attend, with a program that includes live performances and fashion shows, as well as a workshop area where you can create your own art. More than 5,000 exhibitors from around the globe will display their artistic creations in the Booth Area while you’ll be able to sample both local Japanese and global culinary delights in the Restaurant Area.
    URL:https://designfesta.com/

    Tokyo Big Sight is a five-minute walk from Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon Station on the Yurikamome Line or around 10 minutes’ walk from Kokusai-Tenjijo Station on the Rinkai Line.

    Design Festa

    Design Festa

    Design Festa

    Design Festa

    Tokyo Big Sight (Tokyo International Exhibition Center)
    rating 602 Reviews
    Address
    Tokyo Koutou-ku Ariake 3-11-1
    Phone
    0355301111

    Update date:2019/05/23

  • Roppongi Art Night

    Roppongi Art Night / Roppongi Art Night 2019 Main visual

    Roppongi Art Night / Roppongi Art Night 2019 Main visual

    On the evenings of May 25 and 26, Roppongi is set to transform into an open-air art gallery as the Roppongi Art Night takes place. Outdoor installations, live music and cultural exhibitions will ignite the streets, beginning at around dusk and going through until the early hours of the morning.

    Roppongi’s art museums and galleries will stay open until dawn, with the Mori Art Museum’s observation deck offering an unforgettable sunrise across the city. Shops and restaurants throughout the district will also get in on the action to create a buzzing atmosphere throughout the night.
    URL:http://www.roppongiartnight.com/2019/english/

    Roppongi Art Night / Fruits Tree (Choi JeongHwa)

    Roppongi Art Night / Fruits Tree (Choi JeongHwa)

    Roppongi Art Night / RedBall Project (Kurt Perschke)

    Roppongi Art Night / RedBall Project (Kurt Perschke)

    Roppongi Hills
    Address
    Tokyo Minato-ku Roppongi 6-10-11
    Phone
    0364066000
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