With a little bit of luck your trip to Tokyo will coincide with Obon Festival In Japan.

Known as the Festival of Souls, Bon Festival, or the Festival of Ancestors, is in spite of the somewhat depressing theme, one of the happiest Japanese celebrations, with dancing and drinking all night long. The Bon Odon is one of Tokyo’s signature summer events. It is celebrated every August.

You will find more than 200 Odon festivals held just in Tokyo.

How To See The Obon Festival In Japan?

Obon Festival Drums

Obon is a truly traditional Japanese Festival, with the sound of Japanese drums, and the magical dim lights of the floating lanterns.

  • Watch or participate in the candle lighting, where floating lanterns are placed in the river to float down to the ocean. People send off the spirits of their ancestors with lanterns that have a lit candle inside.
  • Watch a Bon Odori dance performance – you can even participate if you feel like it. Everyone’s welcome. Don’t be too self-conscious, just copy what others are doing. Everyone participates in the Bon-Odori folk dance – seniors, men, women, and even very young kids.
  • Enjoy listening to the Japanese Taiko drums. The streets are filled with the sound of Traditional Obon music along with Modern Japanese pop music.
  • During Obon, you can’t avoid the smell of Senko incense wafting through the streets.

This is definitely a tradition that will build memories to take home with you.

When is Obon Festival In Japan Celebrated?


Obon Festival

The festival lasts for three days. Bon festival starting date varies within different regions of Japan.

The Obon week in most of Japan is mid-August and is part of Japan’s 3 major holidays, which means people travel a lot to celebrate with their families. Of the 3 holidays, especially Obon Festival In Japan is considered a family reunion holiday.

  • In some areas of Tokyo, Obon is celebrated around July 15.
  • In most areas of Japan, Obon is still celebrated around August 15, and it typically begins 13th and ends 16th of August, coinciding with the traditional lunar calendar.

Where is Obon Festival Celebrated In Tokyo?

  • Floating of the lanterns down the river takes place on the Sumida River Toro Ngashi Tokyo. The river will be lit up beautifully and the best view is from Azuma Bridge.
  • Tsukiji Hongan-ji Temple Noryo Bon Odori Taikai. Getting There: 1-minute walk from the subway Tsukiji Station
  • Marunouchi Ondo Dai Bon Odori Taikai in Hibiya Park. Getting There: 2 minute walk from the subway Hibiya Station
  • Oedo Matsuri Bon Odori Taikai. Getting There: Close to the subway Hamacho Station

History of The Japanese Obon Festival

The Festival of Obon or Bon Festival is an annual event held during the season of Hanabi. It is based on a centuries-old Japanese Buddhist custom that focuses on honoring the spirits of the deceased. The lanterns are put out on the river to guide the ancestors’ spirits on their way back to the land of the deceased.

For over 500 years, Obon Festival In Japan has been celebrated and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori. On the last day, the spirits of the ancestors are brought back to the grave, and family crest chochin painted meant to guide the spirits are hung. It’s called okuri-bon.

Tokyo Trip Checklist

  • To make sure you have all the important things covered see my first-time-in-Tokyo guide
  • Get your 1,2 or 3-day Tokyo Unlimited Subway Pass to easily get around Tokyo
  • If you want to travel on bullet trains you can save big with a Japan Rail Pass. Here’s why is worth it.
  • You’ll need a prepaid sim or Portable WIFI to stay connected in Tokyo.
  • Check out my detailed Tokyo packing list to make sure you’re prepared.
  • The best site to book hotels in Tokyo is almost always Booking.com. And remember to book early, especially during busy times.
  • For travel insurance (which you need) Word Nomads offer great coverage in Japan and are highly recommended.

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