June 11, 2014 | Inside Japan Tours
From old favourites to far-out events, there is a summer festival (natsu matsuri) for everyone in Japan
In Japan, seasonal experiences are a speciality: cherry blossom parties in the spring, leaf viewing in the autumn, some of the best powder in the world come winter and, last but not least, an array of fabulous festivals in the summer. Here are some of InsideJapan Tours’ highlights:
Rock across Japan
Fuji Rock Festival (25-27 July) – this is the cleanest and greenest music festival in the world, with a reputation in Japan like Glastonbury’s in the UK for A-list line-ups – but without the obstructive crowds. Fuji Rock is held on the slopes of Mt Naeba in the heart of the Japanese Alps and is attended by the biggest names in western rock, Japanese pop and global dance music. 2014’s festival will feature Arcade Fire, Basement Jaxx and Outkast.
Summer Sonic 2014 (16 & 17 August) – taking place in Tokyo and Osaka simultaneously, Summer Sonic hosts back-to-back performances from a wide range of genres. This year, see the reunited Queen, Arctic Monkeys, Robert Plant, Kraftwerk and Little Mix, plus many more.
Rock In Japan (2-3 & 9-10 August, Japanese website only) is a celebration of Japanese contemporary music taking place in Ibaraki, approximately 1.5 hours north of Tokyo.
Sample package: the seven-night ‘Fuji Rock’ package costs from £790 pp (two sharing) and includes three nights in Tokyo (B&B), four nights’ camping, tent, festival tickets and domestic transfers. No meals, flights extra.
Art across Japan
Yokohama – so often overshadowed by Tokyo, Yokohama comes under the spotlight during the Art Triennale (1 Aug – 3 Nov) when illuminations light up landmark buildings and unusual installations showcase well-known spots.
Sapporo – located on the northern island of Hokkaido, the summer climate here is cooler than in Tokyo and further south, where it can become quite humid. The inaugural Sapporo International Art Festival 2014 will be held from 19 July – 28 September and will highlight urban and nature themes.
Dogo Onsen Arts Festival – celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, Japan’s oldest hot spring bathhouse, located in Matsuyama on Shikoku Island, is exhibiting works of art throughout its extensive rooms and corridors. Installations are dotted around the city and there are a number of specially-designed hotel and ryokan rooms also dedicated to the anniversary. Throughout 2014.
Sample package: the ‘Japan Arts Trail’ takes in Japan’s diverse art scenes. Visit national museums to see ancient art, the countryside to see innovative outdoor sculptures and Tokyo’s parks to see contemporary works. Costs from £1,700 p (two sharing) including 15 nights’ accommodation, daily breakfast, four evening meals, domestic transport and some guiding. Flights extra.
From more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else in the world to cheap yet delicious Bento boxes from 24-hour convenience stores, Japan offers a vast range of gastronomy to suit most palates, plus several summer food festivals.
Sapporo Autumn Festival (12-18 September) – a showcase of the northern island Hokkaido’s local specialities, fresh seafood and Sapporo beer.
The Craft Beer Association will be holding mini-festivals in major cities in Japan, such as Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo, as the nation develops a growing taste for real ale. Make sure you go to at least one of the many roof-top beer gardens that open for the summer.
Shimoda Red Snapper Festival – head to this popular coastal town during the month of June and sample all kinds of red snapper dishes. A whole month is dedicated to this great-value fish!
Sample package: the 13-night ‘Japanese Gastronomic Adventure’ costs from £1,720 pp (two sharing) and includes 13 nights’ accommodation, domestic transport, food experiences such as a cooking class, a lesson in how to make noodles, sake tasting and more. Flights extra.
Well-established and traditional festivals across Japan
Sumida River Fireworks in Tokyo (26 July) is arguably one of the biggest fireworks displays in the world. Dating back to the 18th century, this kaleidoscopic extravaganza attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the river banks.
Tohoku’s ‘Big 3’ – the Nebuta festival in Aomori (1-7 August), Kanto festival in Akita (3-7 August) and Tanabata festival in Sendai (6-8 August) turn the region of Tohoku into a place of wild celebration in the summer. Expect to see gigantic illuminated floats, fire lanterns, dancing, vibrant traditional dress, traditional mikoshi portable shrines and impressive fireworks, plus lots of opportunities for eating and drinking.
Earth Celebration (22-24 August) on Sado Island – hosted by the internationally-acclaimed Kodo taiko group which is based on rural Sado, this annual festival celebrates global music, with intense taiko drum concerts and guest artist performances, plus fringe events and workshops.
Sample package: the ‘Northern Highlights’ self-guided trip costs from £1,920 pp (two sharing) and takes in Sendai and Sado plus other delights, such as beautiful Nikko and mystical Mt Haguro. It includes 14 nights’ accommodation (B&B), seven evening meals, domestic transports and some guiding. Flights extra.
For further information about InsideJapanTours, please go to www.insidejapantours.com or speak to an expert on 0117 370 9733.
ENDS /11 JUNE 2014
NOTE TO EDITORS: Launched in 2000, InsideJapan Tours is a small, dedicated team of specialists, all of whom have first-hand experience of living, working and travelling in Japan. The company offers a range of original, affordable packages for small groups and independent travellers. InsideJapan Tours has offices in the UK, the US and Japan. It is a member of AITO, and is fully bonded via ABTOT and ATOL. http://www.insidejapantours.com/ InsideJapan Tours is part of the InsideAsiaTours group which also consists of the Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia specialist brand InsideVietnam Tours http://www.insidevietnamtours.com/
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