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A guide to the best of Japan's 2018 mid-summer festivals

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By Ai Faithy Perez

Summer in Japan brings a number of creative things to help you beat the heat — watermelon and salt sodas, kakigori, matcha flavored chu-hi, bon dance, and yukata — to name a few. But there’s only one place you can enjoy them altogether in a true Japanese experience: the late summer night matsuri.

You’ll see a great deal of those festivals happening across Japan as early as in July through the end of the season: they’ll be at your local shrine or outside your station in the form of bon odori (bon dance) or yatai (food stalls); in the streets as parades or dashi festival cars; or as hanabi taikai — fireworks near rivers and lakes. You may also see communities getting creative by spicing up their summer matsuri with karaoke competitions or drink up events — all in the name of celebrating the season and getting that sweat out of your system!

While there are countless of unique festivals across the country, here’s a round-up of our top ten to see in Tokyo and other parts of Japan. 

1. Sumida River Fireworks Festival (Tokyo)

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Rumored to have had its first launch in 1733, the Sumida River Fireworks is one of the most popular (and crowded) summer festivals in Tokyo. With nearly four centuries of history, it’s survived the Meiji Restoration and continued strong until it fizzled out during the World Wars, and a few decades following. The festival was reinstated in 1977, and this year it celebrates its 41st anniversary in its current form. Visitors will see a spectacular view of 20,000 fireworks, but be prepared — last year nearly one million people went to this event, so expect large crowds, too!

When: Sat, July 28, 2018, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. (In case of bad weather, the event will be held on July 29)

Where: Sumida River, Sumida-ku, Tokyo

Access: Nearest station for 1st Venue: Asakusa Station or Honjo-Azumabashi Station; Nearest station for 2nd Venue: Kuramae Station or Ryogoku Station.

Click here to read more.

© Savvy Tokyo

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

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