The Beer festivals in Japan have always been the summer highlights. One of the largest beer festivals – BeerFes (Japan’s Great Beer Festival), is held annually in five different big cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya and Okinawa. Apart from this huge event, each prefecture or region also aims to hold their local beer festivals where a variety of beers with different style of brewings are available for purchase and a series of fantastic shows are performed as part of the entertainment for all these celebrations.

Tohoku Oktoberfest 2018

This popular multi-day outdoor event features lots of German food, beer and music. While there are many imports, beers from Yamanashi brewery Fujizakura are probably the best value for money.

DATE: 29 June – 8 July 2018
TIME: Fri – Sun 10:00 – 17:00
VENUE: Kishikicho Park
ADDRESS: Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
HOW TO GET THERE: Kotodai Koen Station, Hirose-dori Station

Tochigi Craft Beer Festa 2018

More of a regional beer festival than a Japan-wide event, Tochigi will be featuring around 40-50 beers from a handful of small Japanese breweries including Ushitora, Preston and Nasu Kogen, plus US imports from AQ Bevolution (Lucky Bucket, Left Hand, and Heretic).

DATE: 20 – 22 July 2018
TIME: Fri 15:00 – 21:00
Sat 11:00 – 21:00
Sun 11:00 – 17:00
VENUE: Utsunomiya Orion Square
ADDRESS: Utsunomiya-shi, Tochigi Prefecture
HOW TO GET THERE: Tobu-Utsunomiya station

Nationwide Jibiru Festival 2018

Now in its 21st year, this indoor-outdoor festival features local foods as well as craft beers from around Japan. Last year they offered more than 300 different beers from 84 breweries.

DATE: 24 – 26 August 2018
TIME: Fri 16:00 – 20:00
Sat 11:00 – 20:00
Sun 11:00 – 18:00
VENUE: Ichinoseki Cultural Center
ADDRESS: Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture
ADMISSION FEE: ¥2,000 for a ticket
HOW TO GET THERE: JR Ichinoseki Station


Bon Odori, also simply known as Bon Dance, is a Nenbutsu folk dance performed during Obon. Yet, the style of celebration varies in many aspects from region to region. Each region has its local dance, as well as music in accordance to the local customs. The music can be songs specifically pertinent to the spiritual message of Obon, or local min’yō folk songs. Hence, the steps and sound of the Bon dance differs from region to region.

Mitama Matsuri 2018 (Obon Festival)

The hottest months of summer are traditionally when Japanese commune with and honour the spirits of the dead. One such festival based around this idea is the Mitama Matsuri at the politically complex Yasukuni Shrine. Along the sando – the promenade leading to the main shrine –30,000 lanterns are strung from towers of metal scaffolding to create a spectacular approach.

DATE:13 – 16 July 2018
TIME: 09:00 – 20:00
VENUE: Yasukuni Shrine
ADDRESS: Chiyoda, Tokyo
HOW TO GET THERE: Kudanshita Station on the Tokyo Metro Honzomon and Tozai Lines as well as the Toei Shinjuku Line

Koganei Awaodori Dance Festival 2018

The true Awa Dance Festival in Shikoku is Japan’s biggest dance festival, attracting well over one million visitors each year, but smaller events do take place in Tokyo during the summer. The Koganei Awa Odori is one of the larger of these. Expect to see plenty of taiko drumming and many stalls selling shaved ice topped with flavored syrup (kaki-gori). The dancing takes place between 18:00 – 21:00 on both nights.

DATE: 21 – 22 July 2018
TIME: 18:00 – 21:00
VENUE: Musashi-Koganei Station
ADDRESS: Honcho Koganei, Tokyo
HOW TO GET THERE: Musashi – Koganei Station

Morioka Sansa Odori Festival 2018

Morioka Sansa Odori Festival, held from 1 – 4 August, is one of the Five Great Festivals of Tohoku. Over 10,000 taiko drummers and dancers parade through the city; Sansa is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest taiko drum festival in the world.

DATE: 1 – 4 August 2018
TIME: 18:00 – 21:00
VENUE: Chuou-dori Street
ADDRESS: Morioka, Iwate Prefecture
HOW TO GET THERE: JR Morioka Station

3. Traditional Japanese Games

The Japanese summer festivals brings about plenty of exciting games that can be enjoyed by all generations.

The most popular one is “Kingyo Sukui” (Goldfish scooping). You catch goldfishes with a scooper made from very thin paper called “Washi”. The rule is very simple; until the scooper is torn, you continue to scoop for goldfish. The scooper tears easily when it is soaked. That is the challenging part of the game – to have your scoop in good condition to continue catching more goldfish. The fishes you could catch are yours to keep.

The second popular one is “Shateki” (Gun shooting). The objective of the game is to shoot the prizes on the shelves using a gun and bullets made from cork. The prize you hit will be yours. Even a gaming platform can be the prize! Adults, and not just children, get crazy about the wonderful prizes.

Try out these games when you visit the Japanese summer festivals.



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