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Things To Do in Nara - July 2024 Events

Nara in July is a busy month with heaps of activities to choose from. July is when the Tanabata star festival is celebrated around Japan, and there will be plenty of decorations up in Naramachi’s arcade-mall and streets. As the rainy season comes to close around mid-July, there’s quite a heady selection of unique, fun, and engaging Nara festivals. These are scattered around the prefecture and a few have some small fireworks thrown in as well. If you went out to see hydrangeas in June, then you may have noticed lotuses growing. July and into August is a spot-on for lotuses to bloom, so see below for where to go. 

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Best of Nara Summer Festivals in July

There are a number of quite unique and fun festivals to attend around Nara Prefecture throughout July. The competition is stiff, especially considering the Gion Festival in Kyoto is around the same times, but we recommend you hang out in Nara; the crowds are less and locations more cozy! 

1. July 5 to 7 - Moment 2024: Outdoor festival, Tenkawa Village

If you are into house, techno, and ambient music, Moment 2024 is an outdoor music festival not to be missed in Nara. The venue is out in nature in Tenkawa Village. There are two stages, a food and shop area, an art and chill space, and a kids area. You can purchase tickets online; these can include bus transportation and campsite accommodation.

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  • Date: 7 July

  • Time: From 15:00

  • Location: Forest In Dorogawa Campsite, 934 Dorogawa, Tenkawa, Yoshino District, Nara 638-0431

  • Transportation: You can take a taxi from Shimoichiguchi Station or Dorogawa Onsen.

2. July 7 - The Pure Lotus Frog Hopping Festival, Yoshino

For July festivals, the Renge-e Kai Kaerutobi festival takes the lead. It happens at the main precinct of Kinpusen-ji Temple in Yoshino District. There are three parts to this festival. At 10:00 a.m. lotus flowers are harvested from a sacred pond in Yamatotakada. At noon, at Kinpusen-ji Temple, there is a goma or fire ceremony followed by taiko drumming. Then, at 16:00 is the ‘Frog Jumping Ceremony’ where a man dressed as a large frog ascends the temple steps to be blessed by priests. Into the evening, lanterns are lit around the grounds.

The festival's origin lies in a legend about a man who insulted the gods and was punished by being stranded on a mountain crag. After repenting, the high priest of Kinpusen-ji Temple took pity on him and turned him into a frog so he could descend. The man made his way to the temple, expressed his regret and was restored to human form through prayer.

During the festival, local men carry the "frog" to the temple on a platform where upon the frog reenacts his journey three times, accompanied by the chants of priests and Shugendo practitioners. The festival symbolizes a competition among Shugendo practitioners to showcase their spiritual prowess.

From the official Kinpusen-ji Temple Youtube channel

  • Date: 7 July

  • Time: 10:00 to 17:00

  • Fee: None

  • Location: 2498 Yoshinoyama, Yoshino

  • Transport: Take a Kintetsu train bound for Yoshino from Yamato-Saidaiji.

3. July 7 - Fuchin Taisai, or the Festival for the Wind God

The first Sunday of July is Tatsuta-taisha Shine’s most important festival, the Fuchin Taisai Matsuri. The ceremonies held are to cleanse all negative energies that have accumulated since the new year, and prayers to the Wind God will protect you from disease, disasters, and bring prosperity to your home and business. There are prayers throughout the day, but from 5 p.m. onwards there are taiko drum events, folk dances from 7 p.m., and stunning fireworks and ember showers from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

  • Date: 7 July

  • Time: 17:00 to 22:00

  • Fee: None

  • Location: 1-29-1,Tateno-minami, Misato-cho, Ikoma-gun,

  • Transport: 5-min-walk from Misato Station, JR Yamatoji Line 

4. July 16 - Kamotsuba-jinja Shrine Lantern Festival 

At this festival, in Gose in south Nara, three-tier lantern towers measuring some 2.5 meters are paraded through the town to the Kamotsuba-jinja Shrine. There are 30 such ‘Susuki’ lanterns which are donated by local patrons to pray for regional prosperity and bountiful harvests.

  • Date 16 July

  • Time: 20:00

  • Fee: None

  • Location: 513 Miyamae, Gose

  • Transport: 10-minute walk from with Kintetsu or JR Gose Station

5. July 20 to 21: Tawaramoto Town Summer ‘Gion’ Festival

If you like bustling local festivals with lots of food stalls and activity, then you may want to try out the local Tawaramoto Town Summer Festival. There is usually a parade, stage events, and other activities.

  • Date: 20‒21 July

  • Time: 16:00 to 20:00

  • Fee: None

  • Location: Tawaramoto Tsushima Shrine

  • Transport: 5-min-walk from Tawaramoto Station on the Kintetsu Kashihara Line

6. July 27 - Nosegawa Taira Koremori Festival and Fireworks

This is an annual festival that happens in Nosegawa Village, Japan’s smallest village. Activities include Shinto ceremonies, taiko drumming, lantern light-ups, performances, and fireworks.

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  • Date: 27 July

  • Time: From 16:30

  • Fee: None

  • Location: Taira no Tomomori Historical Village, Oaza Hei 51, Nosegawa Village

  • Transport: A car is required

7. July 31 - Onpara Festival at Tsunakoshi-jinja Shrine Miwa

The Onpara festival is held annually on July 30th and 31st at Tsunakoshi-jinja Shrine, a sub-shrine of the Omiwa-jinja Shrine. It celebrates good health through the summer months and activities include elaborate ceremonies, traditional dance performances, a horse processions, and you get to walk through a grass loop that will take you into the summer. Fireworks are held on the evening of the last day.

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  • Date: 31 July

  • Time: 10:00

  • Fee: none

  • Location: 135 Nishinomiya, Sakurai, Nara 633-0066

  • Transport: Get off at Miwa Station on the JR Sakurai Line

Three Nice Lotus Ponds in Nara Prefecture

Lotuses and the lotus flower, as a symbol of the Buddhist religion, can be viewed at quite a few key temples around Nara Prefecture. Some locations have actual lotus ponds, while at other places the lotuses are grown in large urns or vases. 

1. Hokke-ji Temple: Hokke-ji has a stunning lotus pond, lotus urns, and various other season flowers like their giant wisteria tree. It’s about a 25-min-walk from Kintetsu Shin-omiya Station, but it’s better to catch a No.14 bus from Kintetsu Nara Station.

2. Ruins of the Fujiwara Palace Site: The Fujiwara Site is now part of a large park and recreational area. They have blooms for all seasons, including a large lotus pond field. You can also see yellow cosmos fields from around mid-July. The closest station to the lotus pond is Unebigoryo-mae on the Kintetsu-Kashihara Line—about 30 minutes on foot. From the lotus pond, it is a 25-min-walk to Ofusa Kannon Temple for the wind chime festival. On July 17th or 18th, this is a good late afternoon combo to see the chimes light-up at Ofusa Kannon from 6 p.m.

3. Jurin-in Temple: If you’re just hanging around in Nara Machi old town, Jurin-in Temple has a nice garden, including a small lotus pond. It’s a 4-min-walk from the Harushika Sake Store.

Or, Follow the Nara Lotus Road

The lotus road (read our detailed article) is a series of four historic temples, some of them quite famous, that are popular for lotus flowers in the summer. These temples run from Yamato-Saidai-ji Temple along the Kintetsu Kashihara Line covering the Nishinokyo area. Most of the lotuses are in urns rather than in a lotus pond.

  • Saidai-ji Temple

  • Kiko-ji Temple

  • Toshodai-ji Temple

  • Yakushi-ji Temple

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Saidai-ji Temple is just a short walk south of Yamato-Saidaiji Station. Kiko-ji is about a 12-min-walk from Amagatsuji Station (one stop from Saidaiji). Returning to Amagatsuji Station, the best option for the hot weather is to go to Nishinokyo Station with Yakushi-ji nearby, and then it’s a 10-min-walk to Toshodai-ji. From there you can take a bus back to Kintetsu or JR Nara Station.

The Okuda Lotus Lake in Yamatotakada

This sacred lotus lake forms part of the annual Renge-e Kai Kaerutobi festival at Yoshino’s Kinpusen-ji Temple—lotuses  are harvested here on the day of the festival. On July 7th, you can watch the lotus harvesting here starting at 10:00 in the morning. At noon, there is a goma or fie ceremony at the nearby Benten Shrine. You can view the pond at any other time as well.

  • Date: 7 July

  • Time: 10:00

  • Fee: No charge

  • Location: 470 Okuda, Yamatotakada, Nara

  • Transportation: A 25-min-walk due south of Ukiana Station on the Kintetsu Minami Osaka Line.

Wind Chimes at Ofusa Kannon Temple

Ofusa Kannon Temple often features here for its events. Well-loved for its traditional Japanese garden, historic tea house, and its roses in May; summer breezes in July pick up with a display of hundreds of wind chimes. You will find traditional wind chimes from all over Japan, and there are also special night viewings of wind chimes attached to ‘floating lanterns’.

  • Date: 1 July to end Sept.

  • July night viewing: 17th and 18th, 18:00 to 21:00

  • Fee: 300 yen

  • Location: 36-22 Ousacho, Kashihara, Nara

  • Transport: A 25 minute-walk from Kintetsu Yamato-Yagi Station

‘Nara for Culture’ Music Festivities in July

The Nara for Culture (Japanese) arts promotional festival started in May and runs into the end of December. You can use Google Translate to browse the website and book tickets online, although non-concert hall events generally don’t require booking.

Here are some of the July highlights: 

  • July 6, Sat: EDF jazz band at Nara Blue note; 16:00-19:00; 3 000 yen

  • July 7, Sun: Nara Wind Orchestra plays Japanese compositions, Yamatotakada Sazanka Hall, 13:30 start, free on registration.

  • July 13, Sat: Two jazz greats Joshua Breakstone and Phillip Strange play jazz standards at Nara Blue Note; 16:00-19:00; 3 000 yen.

  • July 15, Mon: National Marine Day Holiday classical concert; Nara History, Art and Culture Village Hall, Tenri, pre-booking, 15:00-16:30; 2 500 yen

  • July 28, Sun: Oji Wind Orchestral Festival, incl. school bands, Oji Town Cultural and Welfare Center, free entry

These are just a selection of events, but this month there is a lot happening at the Nara Blue Note, so check out their schedule, or you can find them on Facebook (ブルーノート).

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Author: NARA Visitor Center & Inn

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