TOP 6 Things to Do in Tokyo for Obon (お盆)

things to do in Tokyo for obon

Obon, also known as the Festival of Souls, is a traditional Japanese holiday where families come together to honor and pay respects to their ancestors. This event is one of the most significant occasions in Japanese culture, and we can still experience various kinds of activities to partake in during this special time even in the bustling metropolitan city of Tokyo. From captivating fireworks festivals to Bon Odori festivals, here are the TOP 6 things to do in Tokyo for Obon.

1. Tokyo's Dazzling Fireworks Festivals

things to do in Tokyo for obon

Tokyo hosts several mesmerizing fireworks festivals across various areas of the city, each with its unique charm and spectacle. This year particularly holds a significant turning point as numerous fireworks festivals are resuming again after a long hiatus due to the pandemic.

Fireworks festivals in Tokyo are a cherished and eagerly awaited tradition that captures the hearts of both locals and visitors. These vibrant events are a combination of dazzling displays of pyrotechnics, music, and cultural celebrations that decorate the night sky and create an enchanting atmosphere.

Let's delve into the magic of these shows and make everlasting memories of your summer nights in Tokyo!

There are several fireworks festivals you can check out here Fireworks Festivals in Tokyo 2023

2. Experience Tokyo's Obon Festivals

things to do in Tokyo for obon

Rooted in Buddhist traditions, Obon is a cherished annual event that pays homage to deceased ancestors and welcomes their spirits back to the world of the living. This multi-day celebration is usually held in mid-summer where Tokyo's streets and temples are filled with vibrant lanterns, captivating dance performances, and heartfelt rituals.

The heart of Tokyo's Obon euphoria lies in the lively neighborhoods of Asakusa, Ueno, and Shibuya. Asakusa's iconic Sensoji Temple takes center stage, attracting many visitors who come to light incense, offer prayers, and watch the mesmerizing Bon Odori dances. Dancers clothed in traditional yukata robes encircle the yagura (a raised wooden platform), while musicians play Japanese traditional instruments for the dance. Ueno Park, another popular venue for Obon festivities, hosts captivating cultural performances, open-air markets, and a magical display of lanterns floating on Shinobazu Pond, creating a dreamlike ambiance for attendees to experience.

While immersing yourself in Tokyo's Obon festivals, respecting and understanding the significance of the customs and rituals will help you to fully embrace the experience. Observing the customs, such as offering prayers at the temples and participating in the Bon Odori dances, will not only deepen your experience but also demonstrate your appreciation for Japanese culture and traditions and for those who have been wanting to try on summer Yukata, Obon festival would be the perfect occasion for you to wear one!

Joining Tokyo's Obon celebrations will definitely give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with the city's rich cultural heritage and its tradition!

3. Exploring the beauty of the City on The Sumida River

things to do in Tokyo for obon

A Sumida River cruise is more than just a sightseeing adventure; it's a cultural journey that invites you to connect with Tokyo's storied past. Take a scenic boat cruise along the Sumida River during Obon. Numerous companies offer evening cruises with breathtaking views of the illuminated city skyline and fireworks.

Along the riverbanks, the blend of contemporary skyscrapers and centuries-old bridges is complemented by lush greenery that adds a touch of nature's grace. Iconic landmarks like the Tokyo Skytree and Asakusa's Sensoji are perfect objects for some memorable snapshots.

Witnessing Tokyo's skyline with dazzling fireworks, a Sumida River cruise promises to be a journey you won't forget anytime soon!

4. Exploring Asakusa's Timeless Charms


Asakusa, home to the iconic Senso-ji Temple, is a must-visit destination during Obon. Savor local street food, shop for traditional souvenirs, and take part in the temple's festivities. Asakusa's iconic Sensoji Temple takes center stage, attracting many visitors who come to light incense, offer prayers, and watch the mesmerizing Bon Odori dances.

Stepping into Asakusa is like traveling back in time, where centuries-old traditions seamlessly coexist with modern life. Asakusa promises an immersive journey into the very essence of Tokyo's heritage.

For an even deeper cultural connection, visit the Edo-Tokyo Museum, where you can delve into Tokyo's history and explore life in the Edo period. As the sun sets, the neighborhood transforms into an enchanting wonderland, with the illuminated pagoda and surrounding streets bathed in a warm glow.

5. Experiencing Roppongi Hills' Mesmerizing Illuminations

Roppongi Hills, a modern entertainment complex, is known for its dazzling illuminations during Obon. Witness the mesmerizing light displays that transform the area into a magical wonderland, creating a perfect ambiance for strolling and photo-taking.

Roppongi Hills' illuminations are not merely a feast for the eyes; they also evoke a sense of togetherness and celebration. As friends, families, and strangers alike gather under the radiant glow, a joyous and festive spirit fills the air.

Visitors can also enjoy seasonal food markets, pop-up shops, and live performances, making the experience all the more immersive and unforgettable. Whether you're seeking a romantic evening with a loved one or a magical adventure with friends and family, experiencing Roppongi Hills' illuminations promises a breathtaking journey into the heart of Tokyo's captivating nightlife.


Check what's in Roppongi Hills for Summer 2023 here:

6. Cool-off The Heat with Japanese Shaved-Ice (カキ氷)


Tokyo's summer heat can be relentless, but fear not, for the city has a delightful solution that has stood the test of time – kakigori (カキ氷). This beloved Japanese treat of finely shaved ice, topped with an array of delicious flavors, is the ultimate way to stay cool and indulge your taste buds during the scorching months. Here are our TOP 5 places to eat kakigori in Tokyo.

  1. Shimokita Chaen - Shimokitazawa
    Price Range: ¥600 ~ ¥1500
  2. Gion Tokuya - Asakusa
    Price Range: ¥900 ~ ¥1500
  3. Kooriya Peace - Shibuya
    Price Range: ¥800 ~ ¥1700
  4. Kagurazaka Saryo - Shinjuku
    Price Range: ¥650~ ¥2000
  5. Suzukien - Asakusa
    Price Range: ¥400 ~ ¥700

Embrace the summer season, seize the moment, and let Tokyo's summer magic infuse your heart with lasting memories and inspiration!

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