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Enjoy Osaka and Kyoto in May 2024 - Guide to Festivals and Things to Do

Enjoy Osaka and Kyoto in May 2024 - Guide to Festivals and Things to Do

Last updated: 22 April 2024

May in Japan sees pleasantly warm temperatures, making it a great time for outdoor fun. It's one of the most comfortable times of the year, and it's marked by numerous large-scale events and festivals that utilize outdoor spaces and entire city areas. Here, we've curated a list of events and festivities happening in the Kansai region, including Kyoto and Osaka, during May!

Table of Contents
  1. Theme Park Events
  2. Traditional Events
  3. Flower Events
  4. Outdoor Events
  5. Art & Music Events

Theme Park Events

Universal Studios Japan Universal Easter Celebration (Osaka)

Universal Studios Japan Universal Easter Celebration (Osaka)

This Easter, Universal Studios Japan (USJ) is set to enchant visitors with a special seasonal event! During this period, the park will be adorned with spring-inspired, cute decorations and characters, perfect for those Instagram-worthy moments.

One of the highlights, "Go! Go! Easter March," is a street show that unites everyone in the park, including guests, in a festive celebration. This year, the event will feature even more energy with popular characters like Sesame Street, Hello Kitty, Peanuts, and the Minions dressed in colorful Easter costumes, marching in the parade.

Additionally, "Universal Wonderland," one of the venues within the park, will host the limited-time "Universal Wonderland Fun Fun Music" greeting show. This event will allow visitors to interact with characters amidst vibrant Easter-themed decorations featuring rabbits and eggs.

Event details
・Dates: March 8 to June 30, 2024
・Time: From 9 AM (subject to change)
・Locations include: Universal Wonderland, Minion Park, and others
・Ticket prices range from 4,700 yen to 6,500 yen

WIZARDING WORLD and all related trademarks, characters, names, and indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s24)
Minions and all related elements and indicia TM & © 2024 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.
© Nintendo
TM and © 2024 Sesame Workshop
© 2024 Peanuts Worldwide LLC
© 2024 SANRIO CO., LTD. APPROVAL NO. EJ4020203
TM & © Universal Studios & Amblin Entertainment
TM & © Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

  • Universal Studios Japan
    • Address 2-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
    • Nearest Station 3 minutes walk from Universal City Station on JR Yumesaki Line
    • Phone Number 0570-20-0606
    • ・Hours: Check official website
      ・Closed: Open daily

Nijigen-no-mori Spring Homecoming Festival (Awaji Island, Hyogo)

Nijigen-no-mori Spring Homecoming Festival (Awaji Island, Hyogo)

At Nijigen no Mori on Awaji Island, an array of attractions themed around popular anime and manga awaits. This spring, the park's "NARUTO & BORUTO Shinobi-Zato" area, dedicated to "NARUTO" and "BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS," will host special events.

The event will see the return of four popular "Special Missions" from 2023 and introduce a new mission, "Hana Akari no Denrei-hen." This new mission focuses on the characters Sasuke and Sakura, who are a couple in the series. Participants will relive the couple's memories while solving intriguing puzzles.

Fans participating in the missions can receive original merchandise featuring Sasuke and Sakura. Moreover, those who take part in all five events will receive an exclusive bromide, making it a must-see for fans!

Event details
・Dates: March 30 to May 26, 2024
・Time: 10 AM to 8 PM
・Location: NARUTO & BORUTO Shinobi-Zato
・Ticket prices start from 3,300 yen

© Masashi Kishimoto Scott / Shueisha, TV Tokyo, Pierrot

  • Nijigen no Mori
    • Address Hyogo Prefectural Awajishima Park, 2425-2 Kusumoto, Awaji City, Hyogo Prefecture
    • Phone Number 0799-64-7061

Shima Spain Mura Happy Easter (Ise-Shima, Mie)

Shima Spain Mura Happy Easter (Ise-Shima, Mie)

At Shima Spain Village, a theme park that recreates the ambiance of a Spanish town, an exciting Easter event will take place this season. The park will be decorated inspired by the "Patio Festival" in Cordoba, Spain, with white walls adorned with vibrant flowers and hidden Easter-themed characters around every corner. Visitors can enjoy taking photos and embarking on Easter egg hunts, each finding their own unique way to enjoy the festivities.

For a limited time, Easter-themed merchandise featuring bunnies and eggs will be available, and dining options like lunches and buffets will also embrace the Easter spirit.

Additionally, during the Golden Week from April 27 to May 5, the park will extend its hours for night-time operation. Guests can enjoy fireworks and a night parade, offering a special evening experience at the Spain Village Easter event.

Event details
・Dates: March 30 to May 10, 2024
・Time: 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM (subject to change), with extended night-time hours from April 27 to May 5
・Ticket prices start from 5,700 yen

Traditional Events

Kamogawa Odori (Ponto-cho, Kyoto)

Kamogawa Odori (Ponto-cho, Kyoto)

Pontocho in Kyoto, one of the most traditional and renowned "Hanamachi" (geisha districts), is home to the Pontocho Kaburenjo Theater, a prime spot surrounded by popular tourist destinations and conveniently close to Keihan's Gion-Shijo Station. Each May, the theater hosts the "Kamogawa Odori," a dance performance that has been a historic Kyoto event since its inception in 1872, although it was occasionally interrupted by events such as wars.

The performance is divided into two parts: the first part features dance dramas, while the second part presents pure dance, showcasing programs themed around Japanese classical literature. This event offers a unique opportunity to see the performances of geikos and maikos, who are usually only accessible in the exclusive "ozashiki" settings.

Event details
・Dates: May 1-24, 2024
・Times: 12:30 PM, 2:20 PM, and 4:10 PM
・Location: Pontocho Kaburenjo Theater
・Ticket prices: Special seats with tea service 7,000 yen, special seats 6,000 yen, regular seats 4,000 yen, tea ticket 1,200 yen

  • Pontocho Kaburenjo
    • Address Sanjo-sagaru, Ponto-cho Dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
    • Nearest Station 5 minutes walk from Sanjo Station on Keihan Main Line
    • Phone Number 075-221-2025

Spring Festival - Hino Matsuri (Shiga)

The festival held at Umamioka Watamuki Shrine, located atop a mountain in Gamo District, Shiga Prefecture, is an event steeped in more than 850 years of tradition. During the festival period, the town of Hino is completely enveloped in festivity.

The festival kicks off with the "Yoi-matsuri" on May 2nd, where the mikoshi (portable shrine) is brought into the West Shrine located within the precincts. It is believed that the success of this evening festival is crucial for the success of the main festival held on the following day, May 3rd. During the main festival, children perform as "Shinchoji" (divine children) and are accompanied by young adults in a ceremony to welcome the deity Watamuki Daigami enshrined at the shrine. This event offers a chance to experience traditional and solemn Japanese cultural elements like the mikoshi and traditional costumes.

Event details
・Dates: May 2-3, 2024
・Time: Varies by date
・Location: Umamioka Watamuki Shrine
・Admission: Free

  • Umamioka Watamuki Shrine
    • Address 705 Murai, Hino-cho, Gamo-gun, Shiga
    • Nearest Station Take a 20-minute ride on the Omi Bus bound for Kitahataguchi, and get off at the Muko-cho stop.
    • Phone Number 075-221-2025

Aoi Matsuri (Kyoto City)

Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com
Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

The Aoi Matsuri, one of Kyoto's three grand festivals along with the Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri, is held at both the Kamigamo Shrine (Kamigamo-jinja) and Shimogamo Shrine (Shimogamo-jinja). This festival boasts a history of over 1,500 years.

The main event, known as the "Roto no Gi," takes place on May 15th. During this ceremony, participants dressed in "Heian Sokutai," the elegant attire once worn by nobles, parade for about 8 kilometers. Highlights of the procession include the "Gosho-guruma," carts drawn by oxen and adorned with wisteria flowers, and "Furyu-gasa," umbrellas decorated with peonies and irises. These intricately decorated items used in the parade are particularly noteworthy.

Additionally, various preliminary rituals known as "Zen-gi" are conducted at both Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrines starting in early May, offering more opportunities to experience the festival's rich traditions.

Event Details
・Date: May 15
・Rain postponement will be decided around 6 PM the day before.

Flower Events

Awaji Island National Akashi Kaikyo Park Spring Carnival 2024 (Awaji Island, Hyogo)

Awaji Island National Akashi Kaikyo Park Spring Carnival 2024 (Awaji Island, Hyogo)

Known as a premier resort island in the Kansai region, Awaji Island is surrounded by the sea and rich in natural beauty. Located in the northern part of the island, about a 45-minute bus ride from Sannomiya, the Awaji Island National Akashi Kaikyo Park hosts the annual "Spring Carnival."

The vast park blooms with a variety of flowers such as nemophila, tulips, ranunculus, and lupines during spring. The "Flower Relay," which showcases these blooms from March to May, is a signature feature of the park.

Additionally, the park offers "Flower Guide Tours" conducted by park volunteers, cardboard craft workshops, a garden marché, and succulent planting workshops, among other flora-related activities.

Event details
・Dates: March 16 to May 19, 2024
・Time: Varies by location
・Venue: Prefectural Awaji Island Park
・Admission: Adults 450 yen, seniors (65+) 210 yen, free for junior high school students and younger; additional fees apply for certain events

  • Awaji Island National Akashi Kaikyo Park
    • Address 8-10 Yumebutai, Awaji City, Hyogo 656-2306 Japan
    • Phone Number 0799-72-2000
    • ・Hours: 9:30 AM - 5 PM
      ・Closed: Year-end and New Year holidays
      ・Admission: Adults (15 years old and older) 450 yen, no fee for junior high school students and under

Spring Harvest at Harvest Hill (Sakai, Osaka)

Spring Harvest at Harvest Hill (Sakai, Osaka)

Located in Sakai, the second-largest city in Osaka Prefecture, Harvest Hill is a facility where visitors can immerse themselves in flower fields and farm life. The "Spring Harvest" event offers a perfect way to enjoy the season here.

Running from early March to late May, the event features a stunning display of around 70,000 tulips, reaching their peak bloom in early April. It's truly a breathtaking sight.

Additionally, the facility offers restaurants and cafes where you can taste dishes made with spring's freshest ingredients. There are also plenty of activities to enjoy during this pleasant time of year, including athletics and water play, making it a great place to get active and have fun.

Event details
・Dates: March 9 to May 26
・Admission: Adults (junior high students and above) 1,200 yen, Children (ages 4 and up) 800 yen; free for children under 3 years old

  • Harvest Hill
    • Address 2405-1 Hachigamineji, Minami-ku, Sakai City, Osaka
    • Phone Number 072-296-9911
    • ・Hours: 10 AM - 5 PM (*Entrance is accepted until 1 hour before the end of each business day.)
      ・Closed: Open daily (Depends on the season.)

Outdoor Events

The 32nd Koinobori Festa 1000 (Takatsuki, Osaka)

The 32nd Koinobori Festa 1000 (Takatsuki, Osaka)

In Takatsuki City, Osaka, a charming event featuring approximately 1,000 koi nobori (carp streamers) is held to celebrate Children’s Day on May 5th, symbolizing wishes for children's health and growth. 2024 marks the 32nd occurrence of this event, originally started to promote the conservation of the Akagawa River, which flows through Takatsuki.

The sight of colorful, large carp streamers "swimming" in the sky is a unique spectacle available only around Children's Day in May. Additionally, on April 29, the day of the event, local performances including dance and music will be held, complementing the festive atmosphere created by the koi nobori.

Event details
・Date: April 29, 2024; Koi nobori display period: April 22 to May 5
・Time: 10 AM to 3:25 PM
・Location: Akagawa Sakura Embankment Park (downstream from Monzenbashi)
・Admission: Free

  • Akutagawa Sakurazutsumi Park
    • Address 12-12 Seifukuji-cho, Takatsuki-shi
    • Nearest Station From JR Takatsuki Station North, take the city bus bound for "Kansai University" (8 minutes), get off at "Seifukuji" and walk 8 minutes.

Nakanoshima Festival (Nakanoshima Park area, Osaka)

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

Nakanoshima, surrounded by the Dojima and Tosabori Rivers in Osaka, often referred to as the "city of water," hosts the "Nakanoshima Festival," one of Japan's largest community festivals with a history spanning half a century. The festival takes place around key spots such as the nationally designated Important Cultural Property, the Central Public Hall, and the plaza near Naniwabashi Station.

The festival features a wide range of activities, including performances by local students and artists, dance, music, an independent film festival, and a flea market. The area becomes a bustling hub of stalls and flea markets, offering enjoyment throughout the day.

Event details
・Date: May 3-5, 2024
・Time: 10 AM to 4 PM (until 3 PM on May 5)
・Location: Around Nakanoshima Park
・Admission: Free

The 74th Himeji Castle Festival (Hyogo, Himeji)

The 74th Himeji Castle Festival (Hyogo, Himeji)

Himeji Castle, located in Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture, was originally built in 1346 and is celebrated for its exquisite beauty and excellent preservation, earning it a designation as a World Heritage Site.

The "Himeji Castle Festival," held over three days, features a variety of events, including the "Historical Experience Period Parade" and "Daimyo Procession." Each year, a "Queen of the Castle" is appointed along with celebrities who participate in the parade dressed as princesses and lords, adding a regal flair to the festivities.

At the venue, performances by local groups are held, and traditional Japanese performing arts such as Noh and Kyogen are showcased by professional Noh and Kyogen actors.

Event details
・Dates: May 17-19, 2024
・Time: Varies by date
・Location: Around Himeji Castle (Otemae Park, Otemae Street, etc.)
・Admission: Free

  • Himeji-jo Castle
    • Address 68, Honmachi, Himeji-shi, Hyogo, 670-0012
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Himeji Station (JR Kobe Line / JR Kishin Line / JR San-yo Line / JR Bantan Line)
      20 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 079-285-1146

Art & Music Events

Takashi Murakami's "Mononoke Kyoto" Exhibition (Kyocera Museum of Art, Kyoto)

Flower Child (2020) and Louis Vuitton trunk installation Photo: Kozo Takayama. ©︎2020 Takashi Murakami / Kaikai Kiki Co.
Flower Child (2020) and Louis Vuitton trunk installation Photo: Kozo Takayama. ©︎2020 Takashi Murakami / Kaikai Kiki Co.

A major solo exhibition by contemporary artist Takashi Murakami is set to take place at the Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art, located near Heian Shrine and Okazaki Park in Kyoto. This exhibition marks Murakami's first large-scale show in Japan in approximately eight years.

The exhibition will feature about 170 works, including newly created pieces inspired by Kyoto, where Murakami has shown deep interest since the beginning of his career. Highlights include "Rakuchū Rakugai-zu Iwasa Matahei rip" and works themed around the Four Gods. Additionally, the exhibition will display iconic series from Murakami's career.

In the museum's garden, a giant sculpture will be installed. The notable piece "Flowers Parent and Child," which debuted in 2020, collaborates with the brand Louis Vuitton, featuring a massive 13-meter-tall trunk set in the garden's pond. This sculpture changes expression depending on the viewing angle, inviting prolonged engagement.

With many works being new and making their debut in Japan, this exhibition is a must-see for fans of Takashi Murakami and art enthusiasts alike. Exclusive merchandise and special offers are also available, making a visit highly recommended.

Event details
・Dates: February 3 to September 1, 2024
・Time: 10 AM to 6 PM (last admission at 5:30 PM)
・Location: Kyocera Museum of Art, Higashiyama Cube
・Ticket prices: General 2,200 yen, college/vocational students 1,500 yen, high school students 1,000 yen, free for junior high students and younger

The 26th Takatsuki Jazz Street (Takatsuki, Osaka)

The 26th Takatsuki Jazz Street (Takatsuki, Osaka)

Each year during Golden Week, Takatsuki City—located midway between Kyoto and Osaka—hosts a jazz festival at approximately 60 venues, including grounds, elementary schools, universities, and dining establishments around both the Hankyu Kyoto Main Line Takatsuki-shi Station and JR Kyoto Line Takatsuki Station.

As one of the largest citizen-led music events in Japan, the Takatsuki Jazz Festival stands out for its accessibility. Admission is free, making it easy for everyone to enjoy the music, which is arguably its greatest attraction.

Event details
・May 3-4, 2024
・Time: Varies by venue
・Location: Around Hankyu Takatsuki-shi Station, JR Takatsuki Station, and 60 other venues
・Admission: Free

May in the Kansai region of Japan is the perfect time to immerse yourself in the breath of spring. With its mild climate, this season is ideal for participating in outdoor events and flower festivals, where you can experience the beauty of Japanese nature firsthand.

Additionally, Kansai is home to many traditional festivals that beautifully blend historical heritage with contemporary vibrancy. Let the pleasant spring breezes guide you to unique events and festivals exclusive to Kansai in May, adding a vibrant page to your travel memories in Japan.

(The information in this article is current as of April 2024. For the most up-to-date information, please check the official websites.)

Written by:

Shiro Tsuchida

Shiro Tsuchida

After graduating from university, Shiro worked with an advertising agency for about a year. Leveraging her experience from a journalism club she was part of during her college days, she began her career as a freelance writer. Based in the Kansai region, she capitalizes on her local insights, writing event coverage and reports spanning genres like art, music, comedy, food, and entertainment within the Kinki area. She also handles photography. Additionally, she focuses on region-specific anecdotes and deep dives into local culture and history. Currently, she regularly contributes articles to more than five media outlets.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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