When the temperatures crank up in August, Tokyo transforms into a bustling hotbed of festivals, outdoor events, and unique activities. The mercury may be rising, but so is the level of fun and excitement in the city. Whether you’re a seasoned Tokyoite or a fresh-off-the-plane tourist, our guide Things To Do In Tokyo In August is your passport to a month packed with Tokyo-based fun.
Ever wanted to dance the night away with locals at a traditional Bon Odori festival, like the one in Shimokitazawa? Or maybe you fancy sampling some local brews in the breathtaking outdoors at Takao Beer Mount? How about immersing yourself in the city’s pop culture scene at Summer Comiket? This guide will point you toward the must-attend events, the off-the-beaten-path activities, and the summer-specific experiences you just can’t miss.
And let’s not forget about Tokyo’s many fabulous fireworks festivals, such as the Edogawa Fireworks Festival and the Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival. These events light up the summer sky with stunning pyrotechnics that are sure to leave you in awe.
But Tokyo’s August offerings aren’t limited to festivals and fireworks. From the enchanting Wind Chime Corridor at Nogi Shrine that provides a much-needed respite from the summer heat, to the high-energy Summer Sonic Music Festival, there’s something for every taste and budget.
If you’re a foodie, you’ll definitely want to check out the Azabu-Juban Noryo Festival for some oishii street food. And if you’re up for a bit of adventure, why not embark on a Yakatabune Boat Cruise to enjoy the cool sea breeze and the city’s stunning skyline?
So let us take you on a deep dive into the best Tokyo has to offer in August.
Edogawa Fireworks Festival (August 5th)
The Edogawa Fireworks Festival is an annual highlight for locals and travelers alike. With over 14,000 fireworks lighting up the sky, this festival is the epitome of Tokyo’s spectacular summer nightlife. Make sure to get there early to secure a good viewing spot and bring a picnic mat to sit on. But be warned, it can get very crowded!
Koenji Awa-odori Dance
One of the biggest dance festivals in Japan, the Koenji Awa-odori Dance, is a colorful and vibrant display of Tokyo’s traditional dance culture. More than 10,000 dancers take to the streets of Koenji to entertain the hundreds of thousands of spectators that line the sidewalks. It’s an incredible experience that brings the community together and is a must-see for anyone visiting Tokyo in the summer.
Asagaya Tanabata Matsuri (August 4-8th)
The Asagaya Tanabata Matsuri, or Star Festival, is one of the most anticipated festivals in Tokyo. This festival is held to celebrate the legend of two deities who are allowed to meet just once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. The festival is a joyous celebration, featuring massive colorful papier-mâché decorations that hang from the ceiling of the shopping arcade in Asagaya.
Fukagawa Matsuri (Water Throwing Festival)
Next on our list is the Fukagawa Festival, one of the three great Shinto festivals of Tokyo. This lively and dynamic event involves the carrying of mikoshi (portable shrines) around the streets of Fukagawa. However, what sets this festival apart is the tradition of throwing water on the shrine bearers. It’s a truly unique spectacle and a refreshing way to beat the summer heat!
Sumida River Toro Nagashi: Lantern-Floating Ceremony (August 12th)
The Sumida River Toro Nagashi, or the Lantern Floating Ceremony, is a visually stunning and deeply moving event. As the sun sets, participants release hundreds of lanterns into the Sumida River, symbolizing the return of ancestor’s spirits to the other world after their brief return to this one during Obon. The sight of the lanterns floating down the river against the dark backdrop is a beautiful, serene, and somewhat melancholic experience.
Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival (August 12th)
The Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival is one of Tokyo’s most popular summer events. This stunning display of pyrotechnics is an integral part of Tokyo’s summer landscape. Along With the fireworks, there are also music concerts and sports events held at the same venue, which add to the overall festive atmosphere.
Azabu-Juban Noryo Festival (Aug 26-27th)
The Azabu-Juban Noryo Festival is a local summer festival that attracts millions of visitors each year. With over 300 food and drink stalls, games, and live performances, it’s a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture. And don’t forget to try some of the festival specialties like yakitori, okonomiyaki, and takoyaki.
Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi (August 26-27th)
Lastly, the Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi is a modern take on the traditional Yosakoi dance. Around 6,000 dancers gather to perform their unique interpretations of the dance, which is characterized by the use of naruko (clappers). The energy and vibrancy of this event make it a fitting conclusion to Tokyo’s summer festival season.
Shimokitazawa Bon Odori
Taking place in the bohemian neighborhood of Shimokitazawa, the Shimokitazawa Bon Odori festival offers a lively and authentic Japanese summer experience. The traditional Bon dance, where locals dance in a circle around a raised platform to the rhythm of taiko drums, is a spectacle not to be missed. In addition, you’ll find stalls selling a variety of local foods, sweets, and drinks.
Komae Tamagawa Fireworks Festival (August 9th)
The Komae Tamagawa Fireworks Festival is a popular summer event that draws crowds from all over Tokyo. Situated along the banks of the Tama River, this festival features an impressive display of fireworks that light up the summer sky. The reflections of the bursts on the river surface make for an enchanting sight.
Koenji Awa-Odori (August 26-27th)
Returning to the Koenji district, we encounter the Koenji Awa-Odori, a vibrant dance festival that brings the streets to life with music and dance. Derived from the traditional Awa Dance of Tokushima Prefecture, this festival sees teams of dancers and musicians from all over Japan performing along the shopping streets of Koenji.
Kanda Myojin Noryo Matsuri
The Kanda Myojin Noryo Matsuri is a summer festival held at the Kanda Myojin Shrine in Chiyoda ward. Known for its unique combination of traditional rituals, anime-inspired performances, and food stalls (this year there’s a craft beer sake section), this festival is a great way to experience the local culture in the heart of Tokyo.
Minatomirai Dai Bon Odori
The Minatomirai Dai Bon Odori festival is held in the scenic Minatomirai area of Yokohama. This is another fantastic opportunity to participate in the traditional Bon dance, while enjoying the stunning night view of the Yokohama waterfront.
Hibiya Park Ondo Bon Odori Festival
If you’re in the vicinity of Hibiya Park, the Hibiya Park Ondo Bon Odori Festival is a must-visit. This event features traditional Japanese Bon dancing, accompanied by taiko drum performances. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in Japanese tradition amidst the greenery of the park and there’s also the World Beer Cup running in the park at the same time.
Nogi Shrine Wind Chime Corridor
Last but not least, the Nogi Shrine Wind Chime Corridor offers a unique and tranquil experience. Wind chimes, known as “furin” in Japanese, are a staple of summer in Japan. At Nogi Shrine, you’ll find a corridor adorned with hundreds of wind chimes that tinkle in the breeze, creating a soothing, meditative soundscape.
Located in the picturesque town of Hakone, the Hakone Daimonji-yaki event takes place in mid-August. This event sees the kanji character for “big” (大) set alight on the mountainside to guide ancestral spirits back to the other world during the Obon season. This captivating fire festival is visible from many points in Hakone, providing a memorable and uniquely Japanese experience.
Summer Sonic 2023
Music lovers can’t miss Summer Sonic 2023, one of Japan’s biggest music festivals. With multiple stages spread across the city and a lineup featuring local and international artists across all genres, this festival brings Tokyo to life with its vibrancy and rhythm. It’s an excellent opportunity to see some of your favorite artists and discover new ones.
Takao Beer Mount
For those looking to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, Takao Beer Mount offers an enticing alternative. Enjoy a refreshing beer garden atop Mount Takao, Tokyo’s most accessible mountain. The combination of crisp, cold beer, delicious food, and the stunning panoramic view of the city is a winning summer combination.
Summer Comiket 2023
Summer Comiket 2023 is a must-visit event for manga, anime, and cosplay enthusiasts. This massive comic market at Tokyo Big Sight is a feast for the senses, with creators and fans from all over Japan (and the world) gathering to share, sell, and celebrate their passion. Remember to prepare for the heat, as Comiket’s summer edition can get pretty warm!
Boat Cruise On Tokyo Bay
Take to the waters with a Yakatabune Boat Cruise on Tokyo Bay. Yakatabune are traditional Japanese houseboats, and an evening cruise offers stunning views of Tokyo’s skyline and its many waterfront attractions. Complete with a delicious meal and plenty of refreshments, this is a relaxing and refreshing way to enjoy Tokyo’s summer. Or if larger boats are more your style check out the Symphony or Noryosen evening party cruises with a great all-you-can-drink plan.
Tackle the Majestic Mt. Fuji
One of the ultimate summer experiences in Japan is climbing Mt. Fuji, and August is the perfect time to do it. Conquering the iconic mountain can be tough, but it’s a physical and spiritual journey that rewards with stunning views and serious bragging rights. Make sure to pack for all weather conditions; even summer ascents can be chilly. If looking not climbing is more your scene that’s a worthy option too and there are some great private fuji tours or group jaunts that make it easy.
Head To The Beach
Escape the city heat by heading to some of the best beaches near Tokyo. Check out Yuigahama Beach in Kamakura for a classic sun and sand experience, or if you’re after a little tranquility, the white sands of Shirahama Beach in the Izu Peninsula offer a peaceful getaway. Either way, make sure you pack your sun cream and your yen for beach-side snacks. Or for something closer to town Odaiba has its very own beach.
Experience Tokyo’s Rooftop Bars & Beer Gardens
Rooftop beer gardens are a summer institution in Tokyo. The combo of cold drinks, delicious food, and dazzling city views is hard to resist. From the lush surroundings of the Forest Beer Garden in Meiji Shrine Outer Park, The ROOF bar at Shibuya Sky to the Urban Beer Terrace’s sprawling city panoramas, Tokyo’s beer gardens deliver relaxation in spades.
Savor Traditional Japanese Summer Desserts
Tokyo’s sultry summers provide the perfect excuse to indulge in traditional Japanese desserts. Cool down with a kakigori, a mound of finely shaved ice drenched in sweet syrup, or try your hand at wagashi-making for a more hands-on dessert experience.
Don A Yukata in Asakusa
Looking to immerse yourself in traditional Japanese culture? Rent a yukata (summer kimono) in Asakusa, and spend the day exploring Tokyo’s historic district in style. Visit the iconic Senso-ji temple and treat yourself to some street food in your breezy yukata. Just make sure to take lots of pictures!
Shibuya Sky’s “ROOF” Rooftop Bar
For a sophisticated evening experience, head to Shibuya Sky’s “ROOF” rooftop bar. Perched on top of the Shibuya Scramble Square building, this chic rooftop bar offers unique brews and an unbeatable view of Tokyo’s skyline. Remember, this is a popular spot, so be prepared for a bit of a wait.
Walk Through Fields of Sunflowers
Finally, round off your Tokyo summer experience with a visit to a sunflower festival. Fields upon fields of bright yellow sunflowers bloom in and around Tokyo in August. The Zama Sunflower Festival is one of the most popular, offering a vibrant, Instagrammable backdrop to your Tokyo memories.
The Sum Up
Tokyo in August is bursting with events, festivals, and unique experiences. From watching a traditional fire festival in Hakone, attending a massive music festival like Summer Sonic, climbing Mount Takao to enjoy a beer with a view, exploring the vast world of manga at Comiket, to enjoying a leisurely cruise on Tokyo Bay, there are countless ways to make the most of the city’s vibrant summer scene.
Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, these events provide the perfect opportunity to experience the diversity and energy of Tokyo’s culture in all its glory. Enjoy the best that the city has to offer, and make your Tokyo summer unforgettable!