One of the most important holidays in Japan, Obon takes place between August 13 and 15, 2023, although the dates may vary depending on the region. Events in Tokyo begin in the weeks before and after those dates. Here’s our list of the top Obon events in the Japanese capital this summer.

Shinjuku Eisa Festival

Editorial credit: Kento35 / (from 2016)

Shinjuku Eisa Festival

Starting from 12pm on July 29, the Shinjuku Eisa Festival welcomes the Okinawan Bon Odori to the streets of Shinjuku around the east and west exits of the main station, for one day only. The event features performances by many Toky0-based Eisa (Okinawan folk dance) groups. Eisa usually features a circular dance accompanied by drumming and the playing of sanshin, an Okinawan musical instrument similar to the shamisen.

When: July 29 | More Info

Tsukiji Honganji Bon Odori TournamentThis photo is from 2018.

Tsukiji Hongwanji Bon Odori Festival

The 76th annual Tsukiji Hongwanji Bon Odori Festival is back this year in its full glory. Thanks to stalls set up by the local restaurants and market holders, the Tsukiji festival is known as “The Most Delicious Bon Odori in Japan.” Visitors can participate in the celebrations by dancing the bon dance around its yagura or watching a performance by a local taiko group.

When: Aug 2–5 | More info

Sunshine City Bon Odori Festival

Sunshine City’s 44th Bon Odori festival features a six-meter tall yagura, or wooden scaffold at the center of the festivities. Visitors can enjoy colorful decorations and lanterns while following along with the moves of popular dances such as Tokyo Ondo, Otsuka Monogatari Ondo and more. On the first day a student band from a local primary school will also perform.

When: Aug 3–5 | More info

Nakameguro Summer Festival

With a history that dates back more than 50 years, the Nakameguro Summer Festival is split into two performances: Awa Odori on day one and Yosakoi on day two. Awa Odori is one of the most well-known dances during Obon season and originates from Tokushima. It features groups of choreographed dancers and musicians who play the shamisen, taiko drums and shinobue flute. Yosakoi is a dynamic and energetic style of group dance that features colorful costumes and musicians as well. The festival also features food stalls and Bon Odori, a traditional Obon dance.

When: Aug 5–6 | More Info

Nakano Bon Odori

Nakano Bon Odori

The 11th annual Nakano Bon Odori festival takes place right outside Nakano Station. This year, the committee failed in its attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most Bon Odori dancers performing at the same time by six people — a record it’s been trying to beat for some time now. But this doesn’t mean the Obon celebrations will be less lively. This year’s Bon Odori will welcome many participants well versed in the traditional dance. The festival is a little more progressive than others, with DJs and performances on a main stage instead of dancing around the yagura.

When: Aug 5–6 | More Info

Photo by d’n’c

Koenji Awa Odori Festival

One of the most popular Bon Odori festivals, the Koenji Awa Odori takes place around Koenji station in late August. The festival began in 1957 to revitalize the local shops but has grown to include over 10,000 dancers and one million spectators. Dancers located in eight different areas will start performing at the same time accompanied by flutes, the shamisen, chimes and taiko drums. They’ll move through town in the shape of the number eight, an auspicious number in Japanese culture.

The festival can get crowded due to its popularity. To watch the same dances from a guaranteed good seat, go to Za Koenji Theater and watch a stage Awa Odori performance the same weekend.

When: Aug 26–27 | More Info

Chuo-Ku Oedo Bon Odori

The 33rd Chuo-ku Oedo Bon Odori Tournament takes place at Hamacho Park. In addition to watching locals perform, visitors can enjoy food at the Oedo Fair and specialty market corners of the park. As with many Tokyo Obon celebrations, the event is returning for the first time in three years. It’s a well-established local festival that is expected to attract around 40,000 visitors.

When: Aug 25–26 | More Info