There's an energy to Tokyo's summer festivals not found in the other seasons. These are the best matsuri the summertime has to offer.
1. Asakusa Samba CarnivalAsakusa is best known for it's temples and Geisha houses. Once a year, this conservative Japanese neighborhood is transformed into a Samba Carnival.
There are close cultural ties between Japan and Brazil. Samba is remarkably popular in Tokyo. The festival attracts 500,000 spectators.
2. Summer Sonic (Chiba)Summer Sonic is a large rock festival featuring top Japanese and international acts. The two day event is held in Chiba and Osaka at the same time. Most of the artists perform one day in Osaka and the next in Chiba (or vice versa).
3. Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super YosakoiThe festival with the great name. The Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi (end of August) is a two-day matsuri that takes place in several locations in Harajuku and Yoyogi Park.
Yosakoi dance festivals are highly recommended — this is Tokyo's biggest.
4. Sumidagawa Fireworks FestivalThe Sumidagawa Fireworks (last Saturday in July) attracts 1 million yukata wearing celebrants.
It's the world's oldest fireworks festival (it started in 1732). Like many Japanese hanabi (fireworks) festivals — it's a competition between rival pyrotechnic groups.
5. Fukagawa Hachiman MatsuriThe Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri (3rd weekend in August) is a giant water fight. Teams carrying mikoshi are sprayed with water by the crowd. Even the local fire department gets in the act — spraying crowds with full pressure firehouses.
6. Koenji Awa OdoriThe Koenji Awa Odori (last weekend of August) features 200 dance teams and 12,000 dancers performing traditional Awa dance though the streets of Koenji.
7. Tokyo Bay FireworksTokyo Bay Fireworks (2nd Saturday of August) can be viewed from Odaiba or on the other side of the Bay at Harumi Pier (Chuo-ku). Tokyo Bay and the Tokyo skyline are an excellent canvas for a fireworks show.
8. Shinjuku Eisa (Okinawan dance) FestivalShinjuku Eisa (Okinawan dance) Festival takes place at the end of July in Shinjuku. A total of 23 Eisa dance troupes perform the traditional dances of Okinawa.
9. Jingu Gaien Fireworks FestivalThe Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival (start of August, often a weeknight) is a large fireworks display in Gaienmae. The show can be viewed at Jingu Stadium. A musical performance precedes the fireworks.
10. Setagaya-ku Tamagawa HanabiTamagawa Hanabi (end of August) is a large fireworks display on the banks of the Tamagawa river between Kawasaki and Tokyo (Futakotamagawa and Futakoshinchi). The two sides of the river compete to put on the best show.