ANNUAL, SEASONAL EVENTS

Osaka's numerous festivals provide revealing insights into historical and contemporary Japan. Temples and shrines play host to the majority of events: Japan’s first Buddhist temple, Shitennoji Temple, is always a hub of activity, while Sumiyoshitaisha Shrine, in the city’s south, is widely considered the most popular. Another highlight is the Narita Fudoson Temple in Neyagawa, which hosts Kansai’s largest setsubun (bean throwing) event. Temples and shrines also host plum and cherry blossom festivals in winter and spring, to other more offbeat affairs such as Namba Yasaka Shrine’s tug-of-war. Contemporary festivals include the stunning 3D Mapping Super Illumination of Osaka Castle and the Namba Hikaritabi, a 540,000 bulb light installation spanning blocks of downtown Osaka.

To find out what’s on, use our search tool or browse a list of festivals below.

Celebrating the passing of the seasons

Every season of the year in Osaka has its festivals. From beautiful cherry blossom viewing in spring to the dynamic Tenjin Matsuri Festival in the summer to the festivities on Mido-Suji Avenue in autumn, Osaka's annual events are like a clock, marking in festivities the passage of the year in the great metropolis.

taiko

Tenjin Matsuri:
Experience the excitement of Osaka's biggest event

The spectacular Tenjin Matsuri is Osaka's most popular summer event, and one of Japan's three biggest festivals (along with Tokyo's Kanda Festival and Kyoto's Gion Festival). Held on July 24 and 25 every year, the festival is dedicated to the Osaka Temmangu Shrine, and is comprised of two days of festivities and events that draw thousands of participants and well over 1 million spectators.

hokonagashi

The festival has been celebrated for over 1,000 years. It is said to have originated with a sacred halberd, which was found floating in the water not far from Osaka Temmangu Shrine where the 10th century scholar and warrior Sugawara no Michizane is enshrined. When the halberd landed, a feast was organized and a Shinto purification ceremony was held. This was the start of the festival. During the Edo period when Osaka was considered the marketplace of Japan, the festival became the main summer event and remains so today.

Following initiation ceremonies on the 24th, on the festival day of the 25th, some 3,000 people in elaborate traditional costume take to the streets. Led by a portable shrine housing the enshrined Sugawara no Michizane, the procession, including other portable shrines, horses, and wagons pulled by oxen, heads down toward Mido-Suji Avenue. At Tenjin Bridge the participants board some 100 boats, which is the climax of the festival. After dark, the boats with countless torches and lanterns proceed from the Hokonagashi Bridge on the Dojimagawa River to Enokoshima, creating a spectacular pageant that passes in front of spectators and reflects beautifully on the water. The festival ends in the evening with a grand display of over 1,000 magnificent fireworks. It is a festival of fire and water.

hanabi

A variety of events are organized as part of the festival, ranging from a ceremony of floating sacred halberds to a boat display to an exciting and animated dragon dance. This is one festival you do not want to miss!

Other major annual festivals

In addition to the fantastic Tenjin Matsuri, Osaka also has numerous other festivals and special events; there's something taking place all 12 months of the year. As in ancient times, these festivals mark the passing of the seasons, and draw the people of the area together to share a common festive moment, and express thanks for the good fortune received throughout the year.

ebisu

Major Festivals in January
Toka Ebisu (10th day of Ebisu) Festival

Held on January 9-11 at the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine, the lively Toka Ebisu Festival draws throngs of people who come to pray for prosperity in their business and buy new "fukusasa" sacred bamboo branches decorated with lucky items in hopes of the success of their endeavor. The deity of commerce at Ebisu shrines is affectionately called "Ebessan" and is professed to be good luck by those engaged in commerce and business. Everyone in the merchant city of Osaka knows and loves the Toka Ebisu Festival. The shrine itself is visited annually by 1 million people who come to pray for commercial prosperity.

doya

Shitennoji "Doya Doya" Festival

Held on January 14, the dynamic Doya Doya Festival at Shitennoji Temple takes place on the final day of the Shushoe Order Memorial Service. During the main event, two groups of young men clad only in headbands and loincloths confront each other and struggle for possession of a cow god amulet. As they struggle, they shout "doya-doya," and the so-called "strength water" is poured on them. This water is said to evaporate quickly from their bodies due to the heat and energy exerted by the young men.

cherry

Major Spring Festivals
Cherry Blossom Festivals

With the arrival of spring comes the season of “sakura”, or flowering cherry trees. And with the blossoming of the sakura comes the ritual of the cherry blossom festival. Festivities are held throughout the city, almost anywhere cherry trees are found. Visit any shrine or park for various sakura viewing activities both by day and by night, including traditional dances, lantern lighting, and food and drink.

shoryo

Shoryo-e Festival

Held at Shitennoji Temple on April 22, this festival is a memorial service for Shotoku Taishi, the founder of Shitennoji Temple, to pray for the repose of his soul. Gagaku court dance and music is performed according to ancient rituals on a stone stage set up on the Kame-no-ike pond.

shoman

Major Summer Festivals
Aizen Matsuri Festival

Held between June 30 and July 2 at the Shoman-in Temple in the Tennoji area, the Aizen Matsuri is one of Osaka's three big annual festivals. The focus of the festival is "Hoekago-Mode" where young women in summer kimono ride “kago” (a type of transportation) up the route from the station to the temple, shouting encouragements along the way.

The festival is a Buddhist memorial service at the temple dedicated to Aizen Myo, a guardian deity of charm and love, which has many devotees among entertainers.

sumiyoshi

Sumiyoshi Matsuri

Held in late July or early August at the Sumiyoshitaisha Grand Shrine, the noble ancient rites of the Sumiyoshi festival include Nagoshi Oharai (purification in summer) with the participation of nagoshi girls, children and citizens of the area. After the spirits are transferred to the “mikoshi” portable shrine and Horen palanquin, the procession makes its way through the streets all the way to Sakai. When the mikoshi reaches its destination, a ceremony takes place. It is similar to many other festivals across Japan, but with a distinctly Osakan flavor. This festival is a great opportunity to see the some of the ancient customs of Naniwa still in practice today.

mido

Major Autumn Festivals
Mido-Suji Parade

Although not a festival by the traditional definition, the Mido-Suji Parade is held every year on Mido-Suji Avenue, usually on the second Sunday in October. It has a festive, international flavor with colorful floats, traditional artists and performers from Japan and abroad involved in the fun. Every year about 10,000 participants parade down the long avenue, to the delighted clapping of as many as 1.2 million spectators.

sukunahikona

Major Winter Festivals
Shinnosai Festival

Held on November 22 and 23 at Sukunahikona Jinja Shrine, this is a festival dedicated to the guardian god of Dosho-machi, Osaka's medicine district, and to Shinno, the divine founder of medicine from China. During the festival, the shrine is crowded with people holding bamboo branches with a paper tiger attached believed to ward off evil, and who pray for protection against illness and other misfortune. People in the drug and pharmaceuticals business people also come here for assistance from this god.

Renaissance of Light in Osaka

A decorated Norwegian fir will be on display in front of City Hall. The Miotsukushi promenade connecting Midosuji and Nakanoshima library will be illuminated.

Tug-of-war Shinto ritual

Fortune telling event of Namba Yasaka Jinja Shrine. A 29m rope modeled after a huge snake is pulled from both ends. Winners will receive a year of happiness.
PLACE : Namba Yasaka Jinja Shrine
20180121
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Doyadoya

One of the three major Japanese unusual festivals carried on in Shitennoji Temple. A spectacular contest by crowds of semi-naked young men, praying for good luck in the year ahead.
PLACE : Shitennoji Temple
20180114
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Osaka Tondo Festival

Largest class Tondo festival in Osaka. Also designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Heritage of the city.
PLACE : Senritenjin Shrine
20180114
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Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine Ichiebisu Taikokusha annual festival "Ebessan" 

Worshipped by business people as "Ebessan of Sumiyoshi".
PLACE : Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
20180110
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White Horse Shinto ritual

Shinto ritual at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine when a white horse, the servant of the gods, makes a circuit around the shrine grounds to expel evil spirits.
PLACE : Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine In front of First Main Shrine
20180107
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Strawberry Farm Haru, Strawberry Picking

Enjoy Asuka Ruby strawberries, a variety called "red jewel," in all-you-can-eat style for 1 hour, with free drinks and sweet treats of cakes and ice cream. Large, juicy strawberries are ready to be picked.
PLACE : Strawberry Farm Haru
20180605
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Shimenawa-age (Raising of sacred shrine rope)

The town in charge of bearing portable shrine at the summer festival of the year carry Shimenawa rope on their Danjiri for dedication.
PLACE : Kumata Shrine
20180103
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1000 times rice cake pounding

Young men with upright pestles pound rice cake in time to the music.
PLACE : Mizuma-dera Temple
20180103
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Harvest Hill, Strawberry Picking

Enjoy three varieties of strawberries in all-you-can-eat style, with no time limit.
PLACE : Harvest Hill
20180531
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Senbonzuki mochitsuki (1,000-time rice cake pounding)

Young men wielding vertical pestles perform acrobatic rice pounding along with music.
PLACE : Mizumadera Temple
20180103
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Ritual of holy water, New Year's Day celebration

Ritual of drawing and dedicating holy water, which is believed to banish evil spirits and rejuvenate the self.
PLACE : Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
20180101
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New Year Sunrise at Mt. Kongo

Observe the first and the best New Year sunrise at Mt. Kongo, the highest peak in Osaka.
PLACE : Chihaya Enchi Park Log House Rest House/Mt. Kongo Ropeway
20180101
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2018 New Year Sunrise at Kuchu-Teien (Floating Garden) Observatory

View the first sunrise of the year from the Umeda Sky Building Kuchu-Teien (Floating Garden) Observatory!
PLACE : Umeda Sky Building Kuchu-Teien (Floating Garden) Observatory
20180101
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Bell striking at Taiyuji Temple

Ring the bell and pray for the New Year.
PLACE : Taiyuji Temple
20171231
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Bell Ringing on New Year's Eve

Ring the bell on oath of hard work for the new year, looking back on the passing year.
PLACE : Dainembutsuji Temple
20180101
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Mizumadera Temple New Year's Eve bell

Rid yourself of the 108 worldly distractions with the sound of the bell, and pray for a good New Year with a clear mind.
PLACE : Mizumadera Temple
20180101
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Namba Betsuin (Minami Mido) New Year's Eve bell

We invite you to look back on this year.
PLACE : Namba Betsuin (Minami Mido)
20180101
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Shitennoji Temple New Year's Eve bell

When the New Year's Eve bell tolling is finished, you are free to toll a bell for good luck/good fortune until 3:00.
PLACE : Shitennoji Temple
20180101
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Emmeiji Temple New Year's visit

Toll the bell on New Year's Eve while looking back on this year. Refreshed, and have a happy New Year.
PLACE : Emmeiji Temple
20180101
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Kanshinji Temple New Year's visit

Toll the bell on New Year's Eve, wishing for a happy New Year.
PLACE : Kanshinji Temple
20180101
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