Japanese Holidays & Festivals: September
Japan offers an impressive 200,000 matsuri (festivals) annually and 16 public holidays! While there are too many to include in one article, you can find a few of the available celebrations through this Japanese September Holidays guide.
If you’re visiting Japan during one of the festivals or holidays, you can expect offices, banks, and post offices to be closed. However, most shops and stores remain open. Don't worry; most festivals are open to everyone (even those visiting the country!). So, you can feel free to jump into the available celebrations, including the below Japanese September holidays and festivals.
SEP 1-3: KAZE NO BON
The Kaze No Bon festival occurs outside Toyama City annually in a small town called Yatsuo. This festival initially became a way of offering gratitude for bountiful harvests and a wish for no typhoons during the year. During this celebration, local Japanese people play traditional instruments and perform traditional dances for those viewing the festival.
SEP 6-7: HASSAKU-SAI
The Hassaku-Sai festival has been occurring for 130 years, celebrated initially around August 1st (according to the old lunar calendar). This celebration offers a way to pray for crops to withstand the strong winds that occur during this time, along with safety for each household. Many exciting events occur during Hassaku-Sai, including baby sumo wrestling matches, adult sumo matches, and the lion dance.
SEP 9: KARASU-ZUMO
Karasu-Zumo translates to “crow sumo wrestling” and is a ritual held at Kamigamo Shrine. During this event, priests from the shrine will perform the ritual, which includes cawing and hopping like a crow. Afterward, children will participate in sumo wrestling matches before taking commemorative photos with Saio-Dai, a woman representing the emperor, at the event.
SEP 14-16: TSURUGAOKA HACHIMANGU FESTIVAL
This annual festival dates back to the Heian period and includes the act of yabusame, a military skill. Yabusame consists of the impressive feat of archery while riding horseback. Other events at the festival include a tea ceremony to celebrate the deities of the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and portable shrines carried through the streets.
SEP 14-15: TONO MATSURI
Celebrated at the Tonogo-Hachimangu Shrine in Tono, this festival includes a traditional Shishi Orodi dance and yabusame. Tono Matsuri festival is offered in hopes of an abundant harvest. You’ll also see other arts performed at this event, including the Kagura, ancient Japanese music that is holy, and the Rice Planting Dance.
SEP 15: UKAI CORMORANT FISHING
The Ukai Festival is an ancient tradition that has been continued for about 1300 years at the side of the Tajima River. During this celebration, fires are created to help attract fish to the shore. Then, cormorants, black and white birds, are used to help capture the fish.
SEP 15-17: SEIRYU-E FESTIVAL
Seiryu-E Festival, aka Blue Dragon Festival, is a newer festival that began in 2000. This celebration is held annually in the middle of September in honor of Seiryū, a god-beast who guards the eastern border of Kyoto. During this festival, a procession is held, which runs from the Kiyomizudera Temple and continues throughout the neighborhood.
SEP 19: RESPECT FOR THE ELDERLY DAY (KEIRO NO HI)
Respect for the Elderly Day is a public holiday in Japan where people honor the elderly in the country. This official holiday includes special events geared toward the elderly in the community. During this Japanese holiday, you’ll see events set up to aid elderly citizens, TV interviews with elderly community members, and even competitions featuring older members of the community.
SEP 21: RESPECT FOR THE AGED DAY (NATIONAL HOLIDAY)
Respect for the Aged Day coincides with Respect for the Elderly Day; both Japanese September holidays encourage you to pay respects to elderly citizens. The entire holiday lasts three days, with the dates changing annually. Respect for the Aged Day falls on the third Monday of September.
SEP 22: AUTUMNAL EQUINOX DAY
Autumnal Equinox Day varies each year, with the date falling on September 22-24. During this event, there is a celebration of the seasons shifting, with shorter days ahead.
SEP 22: COMB FESTIVAL
Comb Festival, aka Kushi Matsuri, occurs on the fourth Monday of September each year. During this event, you’ll see women in traditional clothing and hairstyles parade through the Gion District in Japan after showing off their outfits from different eras in a ceremony at the Yasui Konpira Shrine in Kyoto. This is one of the more popular Japanese September holidays, so expect larger crowds.
SEPT 23: AUTUMNAL EQUINOX (SHUBUN NO HI)
The Autumnal Equinox festival, also known as Shubun No Hi¸ became a national holiday in 1948. Initially, it was a festival that celebrated imperial ancestors. During this holiday, people memorialize their deceased family members by visiting graves and reuniting with living family members.