The Best Seasonal Events and Festivals in Ueno, Tokyo

Tokyo’s neighborhood of Ueno is known for its bustling shopping streets and parks full of both greenery and culture. Naturally, Ueno also plays host to many notable Tokyo events and festivals, ranging from its famous cherry blossom festival to ancient rituals and lively New Year’s celebrations. In this article, we’ll introduce you to all the best events and festivals in Ueno throughout the year!

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Spring (March to May)

April: Ueno Cherry Blossom Festival

The Ueno Cherry Blossom Festival is held in Ueno Park. Visitors can take in the sight of the over 1,200 cherry blossom trees that grow there. Market stalls and paper lanterns are also out in the park during the event.

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April to May: Spring Peony Festival

The Spring Peony Festival is held in the Ueno Toshogu Peony Garden, which was opened in 1980 to commemorate the friendship between Japan and China. Visitors can see over 600 peony plants of 110 varieties sourced from all over the world, including Japan, China, and America. This is also a chance to see rare varieties such as the Marimo peony, which blooms with a green flower. Refreshments like amazake (sweet rice wine) and dumplings as well as potted peonies are up for sale during the festival.

May: Gojoten Shrine Festival

The Gojoten Shrine Festival (Gojoten Jinja Reitaisai) is a festival held by the Gojoten Shrine in Ueno Park. Each year on May 25, a type of Shinto singing and dancing called "kagura" is performed as a dedication to the deities. And every three years, a portable shrine is paraded through the streets by people dressed like tengu (goblins) or shrine maidens.

Summer (June to August)

The following events in this category are all part of the Ueno Summer Festival. Many different events are held during the Ueno Summer Festival period.

July: Toro Nagashi at Shinobazu Pond

This event is held at Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park. It is a Japanese tradition to float paper lanterns down rivers or on ponds to memorialize those who have passed away. The beautiful sight draws both locals and tourists.

July: Ueno Summer Festival Parade

The Ueno Summer Festival Parade is held along Ueno Chuo Street (Chuo-dori) and surrounding areas. Around 30 groups give magnificent performances during the parade, including traditional sansa dancing from the Tohoku region.

Autumn (September to November)

September: Doll Memorial Service at Kiyomizu Kannon-do Temple

This is held at Kiyomizu Kannon-do Temple in Ueno Park. It is believed that this ceremony came about from women who would make offerings of dolls to Kosodate Kannon in gratitude for their prayers for children being answered. Each year, people gather from all over the world to make offerings of dolls.

October to November: Tokyo National Museum Autumn Open Garden

In autumn, the Tokyo National Museum opens the gardens located at the north side of the main building to the public. Visitors can enjoy the sight of the autumn foliage and wild birds there. A cafe is located on the grounds, which is perfect for a coffee break while taking in the garden's autumn scenery.

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Winter (December to February)

January to February: Winter Peony Festival

Just like the Spring Peony Festival, the Winter Peony Festival is also held in the Ueno Toshogu Peony Garden. Straw umbrellas are installed in the park to protect the peonies from snow. Visitors can enjoy different varieties of peonies and the ways they bloom in the winter.

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December: Year's End at Ameyoko

At the end of each year, visitors flock to the Ueno shopping street Ameya-yokocho (Ameyoko) to buy food for their end-of-year celebrations. The frequent sales held there have made Ameyoko famous in Japan for bargain shopping.

February: Ukera Shinto Ritual

This Shinto ritual is held at the Gojoten Shrine in Ueno Park each year to celebrate Setsubun on February 3. Activities like mame-maki (bean throwing) are held while praying for good health for the year ahead. It’s also said that if you grill and eat one of the ukera-mochi sold at the shrine, you will spend the year free from health problems.

These are all the seasonal events held in Ueno, Tokyo, in a year. Do any seem interesting to you? People from all over Japan come to participate in these events. Why not come along if you're looking to meet new people or gain new experiences?

Kanto Feature

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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About the author

G. Ohara
I am one of tsunagu Japan's main editors.
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