16 Unforgettable Summer Festivals in Nagoya and Aichi in 2021

Summer is finally here! And with the arrival of the hot weather, we are ready to have some fun!
The Japanese summers are synonymous with incredible festivals. Summer inspires some of the most stunning Natsu Matsuri (summer festivals) with Obon dances and spectacular fireworks displays.

Everyone dresses up in their most beautiful Yukata and looks forward to the popular festival foods. Time to indulge in Yakisoba, Takoyaki, Kakigori, Castella, Taiyaki, Okonomiyaki, Ringo Ame, and many many more.

Another highlight, especially popular with young children, are the festival booths selling toys and offering games to catch real goldfish.

Kimono (or Yukata) Dressing Experience
Dress up in a Yukata and create beautiful summer memories in Nagoya!

These summer festivals in Japan provide fantastic opportunities to experience local and traditional culture, music, art, drinks, and food.

In and around Nagoya, you will come across at least one summer festival almost every weekend between June and August. Here is a list of the top summer festivals in Nagoya and Aichi for you to enjoy.

Summer Festivals in Nagoya: Ancient Traditions, Local Heritage, and Modern Celebrations

Atsuta Festival

Atsuta Jingu Matsuri

The Atsuta Festival, or Atsuta Matsuri, is the biggest of many festivals held at the Atsuta Shrine throughout the year. It is held annually on the 5th of June and revolves around ancient Shinto rituals to welcome the summer. The emperor’s envoy participates in these rituals together with the local priests.

The general public is entertained by the martial art and other traditional art performances including Sumo, Kendo, archery, dances, and drums. Delicious food at the festival stalls and a spectacular firework display at night are greatly enjoyable too. The 365 lantern floats, or Kento Makiwara, are another highlight that brightens up the night. For more information about the Atsuta Festival, read this post.

Atsuta Festival (熱田まつり)
Date: 5th of June.
2021: Canceled (except for the Shinto rituals)
Location: Atsuta Shrine, Nagoya
Access: From the Meitetsu Nagoya Station, it takes only 6-7 minutes to reach Jingu Mae Station by train. From its West Exit, it is a 2-minute walk to the shrine.
Website | Google Maps

Arimatsu Shibori Festival

Arimatsu Shibori Festival

Every year at the beginning of June, a very historic festival to commemorate Arimatsu’s unique history and technique of Shibori (tie-dying) takes place. Shibori has been skillfully crafted over the past 400 years, and Arimatsu is especially known for its Narumi Shibori technique. Read more about Arimatsu here.

During the festival, different events take place near the Arimatsu Station. These include stage performances, Shibori workshops and demonstrations by artisans, and plenty of Shibori products are on sale. Food stands are also present so that you can indulge in delicious local food.

A highlight of the festival takes place on the Old Tokaido Road Streetscape, just behind the station: the Festival Parade. Observe and admire the Dashi (parade floats) with Karakuri Ningyo (mechanical puppets). A marching band with a wind ensemble and firefighter band entertain the visitors. Two Miss Shibori and two Arimatsu Fuku Otoko (lucky man) also join the parade to excite the crowd further.

Arimatsu Shibori Festival (有松絞りまつり)
Date: Two days at the beginning of June.
2021: Canceled
Location: Arimatsu
Access: Take the Semi-Express Meitetsu Nagoya Line from Meitetsu Nagoya Station bound for Toyoake. After 17 minutes, get off at Arimatsu Station. The Old Tokaido Road Streetscape, for the parade, is about 3 minutes by foot from the station.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Nagoya Port Festival

Summer festivals in Nagoya

At the Nagoya Port Festival, around 3000 fireworks light up the night sky and the scenic Nagoya port area. It is celebrated on Umi no Hi (Marine Day), a public holiday on the third Monday of July,

This festival isn’t limited to only a fireworks display. It starts at around noon with the rafters’ contest. Men balance on tree trunks in the water, trying to stay on the longest without falling off. Throughout the day, other forms of entertainment take place such as dance and drum performances, live music, and a Bon dance in which anyone can participate from around nightfall.

Food is another form of entertainment at any Japanese festival. The many festival stands sell delicious foods and snacks to the festival-goers before the actual fireworks start at around 7:30 p.m. The fireworks display is a composition of light and sound and lasts for roughly one hour.

Nagoya Port Festival (海の日名古屋みなと祭)
Date: Third Monday of July.
2021: Canceled
Location: Nagoya Port
Access: From Kanayama Station, take the Nagoya City Subway Meiko line bound for Nagoyako and get off at the final stop (Nagoyako station). This journey takes around 12 minutes.
Google Maps

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Try more delicious snacks on our Street Food Walking Tour in the Osu district when visiting Nagoya on other days!

Nakagawa Goldfish Festival

Nakagawa Goldfish Festival

The Nakagawa Goldfish Festival, or Nakagawa Kingyo Matsuri as it is called in Japanese, is held each year for two days at the end of July in the Nakagawa Ward of Nagoya.

Admire the parade where a gigantic goldfish-shaped Mikoshi (portable shrine) is carried through the streets. Other activities of this festival include performances such as Taiko drums, dances, idol group performances, and more.

You might have wondered why it is a goldfish festival. When it was first started after World War II, the festival collaborated with a goldfish dealer and rare goldfish were put on display during the festival. This established the image of goldfish for the festival and has been the main theme ever since.

Nakagawa Goldfish Festival (中川金魚まつり)
Date: End of July.
2021: Rescheduled to take place in October. The exact dates have yet to be announced.
Location: Nakagawa ward of Nagoya. A stage is set up at the Otobashi Park for performances.
Access: From Otobashi Station, the Otobashi Park is only a 3-minute walk.
Website (Japanese only)

World Cosplay Summit

World Cosplay Summit

Not all summer festivals in Nagoya are traditional, and the best example of this is the World Cosplay Summit. It is the biggest event of its kind in Japan, and in fact, around the world.

Cosplayers from all over the world flock to Nagoya during this annual 9-day event. The World Cosplay Summit has been held since 2003 and grows in size each year. Cosplay teams from around the world compete for different titles.

This year’s World Cosplay Summit will be a hybrid event. Cosplay events will take place in the Sakae district of Nagoya and the “World Cosplay Championship Video Division” online. Both events will be streamed live for you to join as well.

Find out more about the World Cosplay Summit in this post.

World Cosplay Summit (世界コスプレサミット)
Date: 9 days starting at the end of July.
2021: August 7. and 8.
Location: Oasis 21, Osu Shopping District, and online
Access: Oasis 21 is located only one minute walking from Sakae Station.
Website | Google Maps (Oasis 21) | Google Maps (Osu Shopping District)

Nagoya Castle Summer Festival

Nagoya Castle Summer Festival

Nagoya Castle is arguably the most popular tourist attraction in Nagoya. Summer prompts castles in Japan to also open up at night in addition to extending their opening hours. Therefore, you have the opportunity to experience the Nagoya Castle Summer Festival during the day, whilst during the late hours, you can enjoy the Nagoya Castle Summer Night Festival. A splendid chance to experience the traditional charms of Nagoya in Summer.

This festival usually lasts for around 10 days, sometime in August, and participants can enjoy Bon dancing, delicious local food and drinks. In addition to those, other events such as performances, and shows take place. The castle will be lit up at night so you can enjoy a stroll around the grounds in another unique setting.

Nagoya Castle Summer Festival (名古屋城まつり)
Date: Beginning of August.
2021: August 7. until 15.
Location: Nagoya Castle
Access: From Nagoya Station, it takes only 12 or 14 minutes to reach the castle by subway (including one transfer).
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

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Outside the festival season, you can try other delicious local specialties on this tour!

Nippon Domannaka Festival

Domatsuri

The Nippon Domannaka Festival, or Domatsuri for short, takes place every year for 3 to 4 days at the end of August. It is a dance festival and the largest festival of its kind in the central Japan region.

Dance groups from all over Japan and even across the world gather together in a dance competition, a spectacle of music and color. Each group tries to present their local culture through their costumes, music, and dance.

The festival started in 1999 with 26 teams but has since grown to a spectacle that draws 210 teams with a total of more than 23000 performers and 1.85 million viewers.

The Nippon Domannaka Matsuri 2020 was entirely turned into an online event. As for 2021, this year’s Domatsuri will be a hybrid event. Although some events are scheduled to take place in the city, their scale will be reduced considerably. You will be able to watch live streams on Youtube wherever you are in the world and even participate yourself.

Find out more about the Nippon Domannaka Festival by reading this post.

Nippon Domannaka Festival (熱田まつり)
Date: End of August.
2021: August 26. until 28.
Location: Nagoya and online
Website (Japanese only)

Traditional Crafts, Stunning Fireworks, and Star Festivals in Aichi

Toyota Oiden Festival

Toyota Oiden Festival

The Toyota Oiden Festival is the largest festival in the city of Toyota. Its preliminary events start sometime in June and its climax is a spectacular dance finale and fireworks display at the end of September annually.

Local groups made up of companies, local government, friends, and family practice Oiden Odori, a kind of traditional dance. Accompanied with traditional Oiden music, they will showcase their own costumes and style. The great final at the end of September sees teams dancing in the city center. To conclude the festival, one of the biggest fireworks displays in the region sets the night sky ablaze.

The festival started in 1968 and was borne from the need for people to feel at home in Toyota city. Many people settled here to find work in the country’s largest car manufacturer. Dance and fireworks were the perfect media to get the new arrivals and the long-term residents together and make Toyota feel like home.

Toyota Oiden Festival (豊田おいでんまつり)
Date: Beginning of June until the end of September.
2021: Both the festival and fireworks have been canceled.
Location: Toyota
Access: From Nagoya Station, either take the Higashiyama Line bound for Fujigaoka or the Sakuradori Line bound for Tokushige. Transfer at Akaike Station to the Meitetsu Toyota Line bound for Toyotashi Station and get off at Toyotashi Station. The entire journey takes around 55 minutes.
Website

Toyohama Sea Bream Festival

Toyohama Sea Bream Festival

The Toyohama Tai Matsuri (Toyohama Sea Bream Festival) is an annual festival held to pray for maritime safety and a plentiful catch in Toyohama. The date of the festival depends on the tides of the sea close to Toyohama and is held sometime in mid to late July.

Each of the five city wards makes their own sea bream from wood, bamboo, and dyed cotton cloth. Once finished, these are carried through the town by men, accompanied by smaller fish carried by children. The five bigger sea breams meet for a fight at the seaside. The first day ends with some spectacular fireworks.

On the second day of the festival, it is more of the same; the fish are carried around and come together to fight. The highlight and end of the festival are when all the fishes make a spectacular plunge into the sea. They then continue a kind of dance in the water.

Toyohama Sea Bream Festival (豊浜鯛まつり)
Date: Mid-End of July.
2021: Canceled
Location: Toyohama city and beach area
Access: From Meitetsu Nagoya Station, take the Express Meitetsu Inuyama Line bound for Utsumi and get off at its final stop (Utsumi Station). Continue by taking the Umikko Bus Nishikaigan Line bound for Morozaki Port and get off at Toyohama stop. The entire journey takes about 90 minutes.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Toyohashi Gion Festival and Fireworks

Toyohashi Gion Matsuri

The Toyohashi Gion Matsuri goes on for four days, commencing on the third Thursday of July each year. It is the largest festival of its kind in the Mikawa region, where brave men launch hand-held fireworks up to 10 meters into the air.

The festival started in the Sengoku Period (1467-1568) when the local lords around Yoshida Castle gave hand-held fireworks as offerings to the Yoshida Shrine. They used this to pray for a plentiful harvest and good health.

Aside from the hand-held variation, you can also enjoy the more familiar fireworks launched into the air. The 12,000 fireworks display is the biggest one in the region.

On the third day, the festival continues with local traditional dance performances, a procession of Mikoshi (portable shrines), parades, and the distribution of Manju (sweet buns).

Toyohashi Gion Festival (熱田まつり)
Date: 3rd Thursday of July.
2021: Both the festival and fireworks have been canceled.
Location: Toyohashi
Access: From Nagoya Station, it is either a 26-minute ride on the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen bound for Kodama Tokyo or a 56-minute ride on the rapid JR Tokaido line bound for Toyohashi. Get off at Toyohashi Station.
Website (Japanese only)

Owari Tsushima Tenno Festival

Owari Tsushima Tenno Matsuri

One of Japan’s three major river festivals, the Owari Tsushima Tenno Festival, is held each year on the 4th Saturday and Sunday of July in Tsushima. With its 500 year history, it is designated a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Asset. 

The festival takes place on the Tenno River in Tennogawa Park and lasts from 6 p.m. until the next day. The ‘Yomatsuri’ Night Festival lights up the night with its five beautiful Makiwara Boats decorated each with around 400 lanterns. The boats float down the river, accompanied by drum and flute music.

While you can view this procession from one of the river banks, the best view is from smaller boats drifting down the river for the occasion.

The ‘Asamatsuri’ Morning Festival also takes place again on the river. The same boats are redecorated in gorgeous red, black, and gold hand-woven tapestries and mannequins dressed in traditional Noh performing arts costumes. 

Owari Tsushima Tenno Festival (尾張津島天王祭)
Date + time: 4th weekend of July. The Night Festival starts at 18:00 on Saturday and the Morning Festival at 9:10 the following morning.
2021: July 24. and 25. 2021 (canceled)
Location: Tennogawa Park in Tsushima
Access: From the Meitetsu Nagoya Station, it is between 23-31 minutes on the Express Meitetsu Nagoya Line bound for either Meitetsu Gifu, Saya, or Yatomi. Get off at Tsushima Station. From exit 2, it is about 15 minutes walking to Tennogawa Park.
Website (Japanese only)

Ichinomiya Tanabata Festival

Ichinomiya Tanabata Matsuri

The Ichinomiya Tanabata Festival, also known as Star Festival or Textile Thanksgiving, is one of the biggest festivals of its kind in Japan. It is a festival to show gratitude to the deity of Hatori Shrine, the god of textiles. As the leading industry in Ichinomiya is textiles, the Textile Thanksgiving festival has been an important one since its first installment in 1956.

The festival lasts for four days, from the last Thursday to the last Sunday in July. It includes beautiful gigantic paper decorations called Fukinagashi and handmade decorations made by children in the city.

Events such as parades, Bon dances, and stage shows are held throughout the city on the four days of the festival. Don’t forget to write your wish for the year on a strip of colored paper and hang it on one of the wishing trees made from bamboo decorated with papercrafts.

If you want to learn more about Tanabata in general, its story and history, and the best way to experience it in and around Nagoya and even at home, read this post.

Ichinomiya Tanabata Festival (一宮七夕まつり)
Date: Last Thursday until Sunday of July.
2021: Although events like the Bon dances have been canceled, you can still admire the decorations and also hang your wish in certain locations.
Location: Ichinomiya
Access: From Nagoya Station, it is only a 10-minute ride on the Rapid JR Tokaido Line bound for Ogaki or 16 minutes on the Local JR Tokaido Line bound for Gifu. Get off at Owari-Ichinomiya Station.
Website

Kariya Mando Festival

Kariya Mando Matsuri

The Kariya Mando Festival is a spectacular festival taking place each year on the last Saturday and Sunday of July in Kariya. It is similar to the famous Nabuta Festival in Aomori, just on a smaller scale.

It revolves around the so-called Mando, 5-meters tall and 60-kilogram heavy warrior dolls. These are made from bamboo and Washi paper that are beautifully painted. The Mando are lit up from the inside and carried around each by one young man accompanied by flute and drum music.

Seeing these colorful warrior figures dance around and brighten up the night is an unforgettable experience. It has been taking place for the past 230 years in Kariya at the Akiba Shrine. The festival is held to ward off fire accidents, keep the city safe, and call for rain.

Kariya Mando Festival (刈谷万燈祭)
Date: Last weekend of July.
2021: Rescheduled to September 18. and 19.
Location: Akiba Shrine, Kariya
Access: From Nagoya Station, take the Rapid JR Tokaido Line bound for Toyohashi. Transfer at Kariya Station to the Meitetsu Mikawa Line bound for Hekinan and get off at Kariyashi Station. From the West Exit (西側), it is a 7-minute walk to the Akiba Shrine. The entire journey takes about 35 minutes.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Okazaki Castle Hero Ieyasu Summer Festival & Fireworks

Okazaki Fireworks Festival
Image via Okazaki Castle Ieyasu Summer Festival Guide

The Okazaki Joka Ieyasu-ko Natsu Matsuri or Okazaki Fireworks Festival is held each year from the end of July to the beginning of August. On the first Saturday of August, a firework display is held in Okazaki city. This city is the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa Shogun and unifier of Japan.

The 2-hour fireworks display of around 20,000 fireworks is the absolute highlight of this summer festival. More than 70% of the fireworks used during the festival are produced locally by fireworks producer Mikawa. As it can get really crowded, it is best to reserve your seat at the banks of the Oto River one day early or pay for a seat to get the best views.

On the days before and after the fireworks, other festival events take place in different places around Okazaki city. These include processions, dances, shows, and more. 

Okazaki Fireworks Festival (岡崎城下家康公夏まつり)
Date: End of July – beginning of August.
2021: Rescheduled for Autumn. The exact dates have yet to be announced.
Location: Okazaki
Access: You can either take the Rapid JR Tokaido Line bound for Toyohashi from Nagoya Station and get off at Okazaki Station. Or, get on the Meitetsu Limited Express from the Meitetsu Nagoya Station, also bound for Toyohashi, and get off at Higashi-Okazaki Station. Both journeys take around 30 minutes.
Website (Japanese only)

Anjo Tanabata Festival

Anjo Tanabata Festival

The Tanabata Festival in Anjo city is another excellent Star Festival close to Nagoya. Held over 3 days at the beginning of August each year and attracting more than one million visitors. The festival has music and dance performances, parades, local idols, and even its own mascot, a wish fairy called KI-BO-.

More than 1,000 bamboo wishing trees are set up throughout the city. You can write your Tanabata wish on a ‘Tanzaku’ paper strip and hang it. At night you can not only experience Bon dancing but also admire the illuminated bamboo trees. These are a truly wonderful sight as well.

Anjo Tanabata Festival (安城七夕まつり)
Date: Beginning of August.
2021: August 6. to 8. (canceled)
Location: Anjo
Access: From Nagoya Station, it is a 25-minute ride on the Rapid JR Tokaido Line bound for Toyohashi. Get off at Anjo Station.
Website (Japanese only)

Mikawa Isshiki Lantern Festival

Mikawa Isshiki Lantern Festival

The Mikawa Isshiki Lantern Festival is held each year in late August at Suwa Shrine in Isshiki, Nishio, about one hour by train from Nagoya.

Six pairs of gigantic up to 10-meter high lanterns are set up around the shrine and lit up at night. They are made from bamboo and Washi paper and painted beautifully It is a truly wonderful spectacle to watch the lanterns being prepared and the colorful display brightening up the night.

The festival boasts a more than 400-year history. It is said to have started with the villagers of Isshiki. They lighted bonfires in spring and autumn each year to ward off demons. Because of the fire hazard that large bonfires present, the practice was changed. Today we get to admire the carefully crafted gigantic paper lanterns.

Mikawa Ishiki Lantern Festival (三河一色大提灯まつり)
Date: End of August.
2021: August 28. and 29. (canceled)
Location: Suwa Shrine, Isshiki
Access: From the Meitetsu Nagoya Station, take the express Meitetsu-Nagoya Line bound for Kirayoshida. Transfer at the Kirayoshida Station to the Friend Bus bound for Hekinan Eki. Get off at Daihobashi and walk to the shrine for about 5 minutes. The entire journey takes around 100 minutes.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

This post has last been updated in June 2021
Although we strive to provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information possible, please note that changes may occur nonetheless. Therefore, we recommend you confirm any relevant information such as event cancelations or changes, opening hours, or possible restrictions using a direct source. Please keep in mind that these sources might be in Japanese only.

About the author

In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena wants to share her passion with the world. Her goal is to make everyone interested in Nagoya, her adoptive home, online through her writing and offline through unique food tours.

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