There are a lot of events in Japan happening all year round and while some of them are traditional cultural matsuri, there are also many different Japanese festivals that involve fun activities and performances. From lanterns, fireworks, parades, street food, ceremonies and more, there are incredible things to do for all kinds of celebrations, holidays and festivities. If you’re looking for what to do in December in Japan, then look no further. Here are some of the biggest December events in Japan that you definitely shouldn’t miss! 

December events in Japan

Hyuga Province Ichinomiya Tohno Shrine Winter Festival

Best December Events in Japan Hyuga Province Ichinomiya Tohno Shrine Winter Festival
Credit: ANA Japan Travel Planner


Sun 4 Dec 2022, Mon 5 Dec, 2022

Tsuno Shrine, 都農神社

13294 Kawakita, Tsuno, Koyu District, Miyazaki 889-1201

Winter festival held at the Tsuno Shrine, with a night kagura performance on the first day and an archery competition on the second day. Free zenzai (sweet bean soup), amazake (sweet sake), shochu (distilled spirit) and pork miso soup are served to worshippers.

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Ikenoue Misogi Festival

Best December Events in Japan Ikenoue Misogi Festival
Credit: Nippon Travel Magazine


10 Dec (Sat), 2022

Katsuragake Shrine, 葛懸神社

3-47 Ikenoue-cho, Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture

Men wearing hachimaki and loincloths enter the Nagara River in midwinter to perform the Misogi, washing away the sins of the year and praying for the fulfilment of their wishes.

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Yamashina Yoshishi Festival

Best December Events in Japan Yamashina Yoshishi Festival
Credit: Kyoto City Tourism Association


14 Dec (Wed), 2022

Bishamon-dō, Iwaya-ji, Oishi Shrine 毘沙門堂, 岩屋寺, 大石神社

116 Nishinoyama Sakuranobaba-cho, Yamashina-ku, Kyoto

A festival that is held annually on the 14th of December in Yamashina, which is associated with Oishi Kuranosuke and the other 47 warriors. The Gikyoudaisai is held in the precincts of Oishi Shrine, and the 47 warriors dressed as uchiiriri march to Oishi Shrine.

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Ako Yoshishi Festival

Best December Events in Japan Ako Yoshishi Festival
Credit: Ako Tourism Association


14 Dec (Wed), 2022

Ruins of Ako Castle, Castle Street, around Ikitsugi Square, etc. 赤穂城跡、お城通り、いきつぎ広場周辺など

Ako, Hyogo

The main event is the Chushingura Parade. For five hours, a procession of daimyo (feudal lords) reminiscent of the daimyo’s visit to Ako. A procession of loyal warriors who have achieved their true love and are heading for Sengakuji Temple, where their lord is laid to rest, will be paraded in a spectacular manner.

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Kasuga Wakamiya Onmatsuri

Best December Events in Japan Kasuga Wakamiya Onmatsuri


15 Dec (Thu) – 18 Dec (Sun) 2022

Kasuga-taisha 春日大社

Kasugano-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture

The highlight of the festival is the ‘Owatari Ceremony’, in which people dressed in period costumes from the Heian to Edo periods, parade through the streets in a spectacular manner. Don’t miss the ‘Otabisho Matsuri’, where a number of Shinto rituals and performing arts are dedicated.

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Akiha Fire Festival

Best December Events in Japan Fire Prevention Grand Festival Akiba Fire Festival
Credit: Shizuoka /Hamamatsu/Izu Information


15th-16th Dec (Fri), 2022

Akihasan 秋葉山

841 Ryoke, Haruno-cho, Tenryu-ku, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture

A festival to thank the deity Akiba Sanshakubo Daigongen, a guardian deity of fire prevention who appeared 1,300 years ago. Various traditional events are held, including a torchlight procession, fire-walking and a secret 75-zen offering ceremony.

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Nomefuda Oyake Shibaoto Grand Gomaku Ceremony

Best December Events in Japan Nomefuda Oyake Shibaoto Grand Gomaku Ceremony
Credit: Narita Area Newspaper ONLINE


28th Dec (Wed), 2022

1, Narita, Narita, Chiba

While monks dressed as mountain priests chant sutras, some 50,000 votive tablets are returned in the flames of Fudo Myoo’s wisdom. This is a solemn ceremony in which a blazing flame scorches the winter sky along with people’s prayers of thanksgiving.

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Atami Marine Fireworks Display

Best December Events in Japan Atami Marine Fireworks Display
Credit: ATAMI Sekaie


Sunday 4th December 2022, Sunday 18 December 2022

Nagisa-cho, Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture

A historical fireworks display that began in 1952.

This Atami speciality is held more than 10 times throughout the year, not just in summer.

The venue, Atami Bay, is surrounded on three sides by mountains and has a ‘mortar’ shape, so the sound of fireworks over the sea reverberates, creating an acoustic effect similar to that of a large stadium. This makes it the best place in Japan for fireworks displays, which is highly praised by pyrotechnicians.

The beauty of the fireworks in the night sky, the reflections on the water and the finale, the ‘Great Aerial Niagara’, is impressive.

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Chichibu Night Festival

Best December Events in Japan Chichibu Night Festival
Credit: Chichibu Festival Hall


2nd -3rd Dec 2022

1-3 Banba-cho, Chichibu, Saitama.

During the festival, four yatai and two kasaboko floats appear with rhythmic Chichibu yatai music. The parade of the floats is a sight to behold as they weave their way through the crowds along the streets in their glittering costumes.

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Festival of Kanto: Koga Lantern Pole Fir Festival

Best December Events in Japan Festival of Kanto_ Koga Lantern Pole Fir Festival
Photo by Yuma Takahashi via Omatsuri Japan

第162回 関東の奇祭 古河提灯竿もみまつり

Saturday, 3 December 2022

Nogi Shrine 野木神社

Honmachi, Koga City, Ibaraki Prefecture

A fierce festival in which participants struggle to extinguish each other’s fires while holding lanterns attached to the ends of nearly 20-metre-long bamboo poles. Each organisation has its own lanterns and candles to ensure that the fire is not easily extinguished.

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Morote-bune ritual

Best December Events in Japan Morote-bune ritual
Credit: Festival Day


Saturday, 3 December 2022

Miho Shrine 美保神社

Mihonoseki, Mihonoseki Town, Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture

Nine members of the shrine’s clergy, chosen by lot, board two boats and row three times between the harbour in front of the shrine and the Kyakushinsha shrine on the other side of the river. The sight of the rowers violently splashing water at each other as they row along is a sight to behold.

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There you have it, some of the biggest and best December events in Japan you shouldn’t miss! Do you have any other Japanese festivals and events you want to add to this list? Let us know by leaving a comment below! If you attend any of these Japanse events, make sure to tag us @flipjapanguide on Instagram and let us travel vicariously through you!

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