Bon Odori, often called Bon Dance or Bon Festival, is an inherent part of every Japanese summer experience. Originally, Bon Odori is a dance festival held to honor, appreciate, and remember one’s ancestors with a dance of joy. It is also a form of welcoming, as it is believed that the spirits of the ancestors visit their family’s house shrines during the three days that Obon traditionally lasts.
It is only natural that this Japanese summer highlight is taking place at various places and areas in and around Tokyo, each one of them well worth a visit. We picked the liveliest and most interesting Obon Festivals for you, so grab your geta and your yukata and get to dancing – everyone is welcome to join!
Hibiya Park Marunouchi Ondo Bon Odori
<August 25th (Fri) to 26th (Sat) 2017>
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
The large bon dance event in Hibiya Park takes place since 2003, as a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the opening of the beautiful Hibiya Park itself. Every year, more and more visitors join the summer night dancing fun, with about 34,000 people enjoying the two-day bon festival in 2016. The characteristic of Hibiya Park’s bon dance is the lit-up fountain in the center, making for an enigmatic experience as you dance around it.
Tsukiji Hongwanji Bon Odori
<August 2nd (Wed) to 5th (Sat) 2017>
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
(Saturdays only: 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.)
This year marks the 70th time that the Tsukiji Hongwanji Bon Odori takes place, one of Tokyo’s liveliest summer dance festivals. As the name suggests, it is held on the precincts of the majestic Tsukiji Hongwanji temple – its main hall is a designated important . Look forward to the famous taiko group Oedo Sukeroku Taiko that will hold several performances during the days of the bon event. On top of that, you’ll get the chance to dance in any costume of your choice with the special costume events, should a regular yukata be too boring for you!
If you’re getting hungry, why not head over to the famous Tsukiji Market and enjoy some amazing Japanese street food?
Roppongi Hills Bon Odori
<August 25th (Fri) to 27th (Sun) 2017>
Friday 25th: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (no Bon dance taking place)
Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th: 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (Bon dance: 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.)
2017 marks the 15th time that the Roppongi Hills Bon Odori festival is being held. A large, elevated stage resembling a tower called a yagura stands in the center of the famous Roppongi Hills, the massive landmark of the area. There’s no application necessary to be part of the lively bon dance, so just join the fun and dancing at your own pace!
Various restaurants and bars located inside Roppongi Hills will open up food stalls at the bon festival venue, providing delicious refreshments and treats for hungry, thirsty dancers. Please note that there will be no bon dance on the evening of Friday the 25th, as the Eve of Obon is celebrated then.
Minato Mirai Bon Odori
<August 18th (Fri) to 19th (Sat) 2017>
Friday 18th: 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Saturday 19th: 3:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Held for the 10th time this year, the Minato Mirai Bon Odori festival in Yokohama is one of the most popular events in the greater Tokyo area. This is because it takes place in Yokohama’s Port City and thus directly at the sea and beach. The atmospheric Rinko Park serves as a venue where not only bon dancers gather around the yagura, but various stalls offer snacks and drinks to make your Japanese summer experience perfect all around!
Apart from the Bon dance itself, we urge you to enjoy the lit-up Yokohama Bay Bridge in the distance – many people gaze at the romantic scenery to make a secret wish or two.
Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa, Nishi-ku, 220-0012
Yokohama Station （JR Tokaido Main Line / JR Yokosuka Line / JR Shonan Shinjuku Line / JR Keihin-Tohoku Line / JR Negishi Line / JR Ueno Tokyo Line / Line 3 (Yokohama Blue Line) / Tokyu Toyoko Line / Minatomirai Line / Keikyu Main Line / Sagami Railway Main Line）
- Address Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa, Nishi-ku, 220-0012
Camp Shimoshizu Bon Odori
<August 8th (Tue) to 9th (Wed) 2017>
4:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
This bon dance festival takes place at Camp Shimoshizu, which are the grounds of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. There is not only a big bon dance taking place but also various other highlights, such as a performance by the music corps and a variety of outdoor shops opening on the premises.
Another must-see is the beautiful fireworks, painting the night-time sky in a hundred different colors. The Camp Shimoshizu Bon Odori really offers everything a Japanese summer has to offer: dancing, fireworks, and amazing food!
- Address 902 Wakamatsucho, Wakaba-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba-ken 264-0021
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