Guide to Japanese Festivals

Sapporo Snow Festival | Hanami Festival | Gion Matsuri

an image of himeji castle in japan with a sakura tree in the forefront taken from the website pixabay
Himeji Castle in Japan

Sapporo Snow Festival - February

Location - Sapporo

The Sapporo Snow Festival, also known as Yuki Matsuri, is one of the most popular winter events held in the capital of Hokkaido during one week in February. Over two million visitors across the world attend this festival every year to admire the hundreds of ice sculptures and snow statues.

  • In 2023 the Sapporo Snow Festival will be held on Feb 4 - Feb 11.
  • This festival began in 1950 by highschool students who made snow sculptures in Odori Park.
  • The snow festival is held at three different locations in Sapporo including: Odori Site, Tsu Dome Site, and Susukino Site.
an image of a snow carving during the sapporo snow festival in japan which was taken from pixabay
Snow carving during the Sapporo Snow Festival
an image of a cherry blossom in Japan which was taken from Pixabay
Cherry blossoms in Japan

Hanami Festival - March/May

Location - Japan

The Hanami Festival, also known as the Cherry Blossom Festival, is one of the most popular festivals in all of Japan. This festival takes place all throughout the country and people worldwide travel to Japan to see the trees blooming.

  • "Hanami" is Japanese for "flower viewing."
  • The first cherry blossom trees to bloom in Japan are in Okinawa.
  • Cherry blossoms often only bloom for no more than two weeks.

Gion Matsuri - July

Location - Kyoto

Gion Matsuri is a festival which takes place in Kyoto during the month of July. This festival at Yasaka Shrine was originally a purification ritual in 869 during an epidemic and has since turned into an entire festival for the month of July with a procession of several floats.

  • The procession of floats, arguably the most important event during the festival, takes place on July 17 and 14.
  • The name Gion Matsuri originates from the district in Kyoto where the festival takes place - Gion.
  • The two types of floats at the Gion Festival are known as "yama" and "hoko."
an image of several lanterns which are lit up against a dark background during the gion matsuri festival which was taken from pixabay
Lanterns during the Gion Matsuri festival
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