10 Fun Things to Do in Japan in April

April is the first full month of Spring! April is also the start of a new year for Japanese schools and companies. All of Japan seems to come alive during this time, and it’s a very fun month to be in Japan. From flower festivals to lively parade, here are 10 fun things to do in Japan in April 2019.

1. Ueno Park Sakura Festival (うえの 桜まつり)

Ueno Park is a large public park next to Ueno Station in central Tokyo. The park is famous for the collection of museums located on its spacious grounds, as well as Ueno Zoo, Japan’s first zoological garden. Additionally, Ueno Park is one of Tokyo’s most popular cherry blossom spots, as it’s main central pathway becomes a sakura tunnel lined by almost 1,200 cherry trees. There is also a lake, where people can rent paddle boats and enjoy the sight of the cherry blossoms from the water. During the festival period, the cherry blossoms trees are illuminated by light-ups so they can be enjoyed at night as well.

WHERE: Ueno Park, Tokyo

2. Enshu Yokosuka Shrine Festival (遠州横須賀三熊野神社大祭)

This festival is held every year on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in either the last weekend of March, or the first weekend in April. The Shizuoka Festival is Shizuoka City’s biggest Spring festival. The three-day event features a Yatai-mura (outdoor food village), nebuta floats (see Nebuta Festival), cherry blossoms, parades, performances and cosplay. It is a lively celebration to welcome Spring to Shizuoka City!

WHERE: Around Shizuoka Station, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture

3. All-Japan Chindon Competition (全日本チンドンコンクール)

The“Chindonya” are elaborately costumed Japanese street musicians that advertise for shops and other establishments. Japanese feel nostalgic with the performers’ costume and music. Every spring, on a weekend in early April, in time with the blooming of the cherry blossoms, Chindonya come from all over Japan to compete in this contest held in Toyama.

WHERE: Toyama Prefectural Hall, Toyama City

4.  Hiyoshi Sannō Matsuri (日吉山王祭)

This is a festival that has continued for more than 1200 years, as it first began when Emperor Kanmu donated two shrines to the Hiyoshi company. During the festival, seven portable mikoshi shrines from the Sanno Seven Companies are paraded around the Three Great Lakes of Lake Country during the full bloom of the cherry blossoms. At night, the fire torches and rowdy crowds make for a truly lively event!

WHERE: Hiyoshi-Taisha Shrine, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture

5. Ryukyu Kaiensai Fireworks Festival (琉球海炎祭)

This festival is held every year on a Saturday in mid-April. Boasting the title of being the earliest summer fireworks festival in Japan, this fireworks display is to be held in accordance with the sea opening season of Okinawa, in April. 10,000 fireworks will be launched into the sky. The venue opens at 15:00, and the fireworks begin at 19:00.

WHERE: Ginowan Tropical Beach, Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture

6. Fuji Shiba-zakura Festival  (富士芝桜まつり)

This festival is held every year from mid-April to late May. There are 8 kinds of Shiba-zakura to be seen in this flower festival. During the festival, the Mt. Fuji Delicious Foods Festival will also be held in the park’s restaurant and shop area, with stalls featuring delicious treats from different places around the mountain. Visitors to this festival can enjoy endless fields of flowers, a variety of delicious food, and breathtaking views of Mount Fuji.

WHERE: Fuji Shiba-sakura Observation Deck, Minamitsuru District, Yamanashi

7. Spring Takayama Festival (春の高山祭)

The famous Takayama Spring Festival revolves around the Sakurayama Hachinmangu shrine. It is highlighted by portable mikoshi shrines and large floats that are paraded through the streets during the day as well as in the evening, when they are lit with lanterns. The Takayama Spring Festival also includes fascinating marionette performances. Takayama is located in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture, which happen to make a perfect backdrop for this festival!

WHERE: Hie Shrine, Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture

WHEN:  April 14-15

8. Furukawa Festival (古川祭)

This big, lively festival consists of three major events, including “Dancing Taiko” and “Lines of Food Stalls” around the Keta Wakamiya Shrine. The third event is held in the main shrine, and  is an old-fashioned “God’s entertainment line” dedicated to the shrine’s diety. A noteable highlight is during the “Taiko drum” performance, which becomes a sort of battle game where hundreds of barely-dressed men parade around the oar of a big drum.

WHERE: Hida-Furukawa Downtown Area, Hida City, Gifu Prefecture

9. Tonami Tulip Fair (となみチューリップフェア)

Three hundred thousand tulips in 300 different varieties, the largest collection in the country, are in full bloom. Various events such as a flower fashion show are planned during the blooming period. The venue, Tonami Tulip Park, opens at 8:30 and closes at 5:30, but last entry is at 5pm.

WHERE: Tonami Tulip Park, Tonami City, Toyama Prefecture

10. Isurugi Hikiyama Festival (石動曳山祭)

11 elaborate dashi floats (literally called “mountain cars” in Japanese) are decorated to portray the tales of the arts and crafts of the Momoyama period. They go around the town with the accompaniment of lively music. In the evening, the floats are lit up with lanterns, transforming into floral mountain carriages that are incredibly different from their appearance in the daytime.

WHERE: Isurugi-machi, Oyabe City, Toyama Prefecture

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