The Hyakumangoku Festival
The first on the summer calendar is Kanazawa’s biggest summer event, the Hyakumangoku Festival. On the first weekend of June, epic taiko drum performances, historical re-enactments, and lively local dances commence. The Hyakumangoku Festival commemorates Maeda Toshiie, the first lord of the Kaga Maeda Clan, to enter Kanazawa Castle, marking the beginning of the city’s wealth and cultural refinement period of the Kaga Domain era (1583 to 1869).
The parade starts at the east exit of Kanazawa Station, with spirited taiko drum performances in front of the iconic Tsuzumi-mon Gate, followed by an exuberant show of dancers, musicians, and performers dressed in 16-century costumes as samurai, feudal lords, and princesses. One of the most acrobatic performances you’ll see is from firefighters teetering at the top of ladders as they perform a series of gymnastic stunts, much to the delight of festival onlookers. You’ll get to watch the lion dance and historical re-enactments of Maeda Toshiie riding on horseback for an entertaining glimpse into Kanazawa history from Kanazawa Castle Park and in the street during the parade. In the evening, you’ll want to rent a yukata from one of Kanazawa’s kimono and yukata rental shops and join over ten thousand people converging in the streets for the Hyakumangoku Dancing Parade, with spectators in summer yukata joining the lively evening of festival dances. During the three days of the Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Festival, Kenrokuen Garden opens to the public free of charge and an illumination event is also being held.
Exciting Summer Festivals
About a 30-minute bus ride from the city center is Ono Minato Shrine, home to the Kanaiwa Summer Festival. Kanaiwa Summer Festival is one of the largest summer festivals in Kanazawa city, showcasing a variety of local performances, including the ceremonial “homecoming” ritual that has been held for hundreds of years. The festival centers around two deities, the Sun Goddess Amaterasu Okami and God of Guidance Sarutahiko Okami, who are carried in portable Mikoshi shrines on the shoulders of festival participants to the Hiyoriyama Temporary Hall. Highlights include traditional performing arts staged by shrine parishioners, such as the lion dance, offering a new harvest of rice to the gods, and the exorcism. These traditions have been honored as Intangible Folk Cultural Properties of Kanazawa City and ones you simply won’t find anywhere else.
For a naturally-occurring illumination event, the Hakuchoro Firefly Viewing Evening is an utterly enchanting sight as hundreds of bioluminescent fireflies settle on Hakuchoro path in Kanazawa Castle Sotobori (Outer Moat) Park. There’s something near-supernatural about these illuminated insects, as hundreds of them pulsate in unison, creating an utterly sensational night you won’t forget.
Finally, a summer festival in Japan just isn’t complete without some fireworks, and the Kanazawa Fireworks Festival is one that’s had locals and visitors returning year after year. This fireworks festival is a highly anticipated event by many who gather along the banks of the Saigawa River, and look on from tall buildings and any other high vantage point to watch as 12,000 fireworks ignite the night sky for this epic summer event.
Kenrokuen Nighttime Illumination
Kenrokuen Garden has an ethereal glow at night as carefully-placed lights illuminate the Kotoji lanterns, fountains, and water features for your relaxed evening stroll. The garden’s unique summer event, the Kanazawa Castle/Kenrokuen Four Seasons Story, occurs in early August. Not only will your nighttime visit offer some relief from the summer heat, but it’s also open to the public free of charge during its illumination hours. Couples won’t be able to help appreciating the romantic atmosphere of the picturesque Kenrokuen Garden for their evening walk.
- Hokkoku Fireworks Display
- A summer night-time tradition in Kanazawa
- Summer Grand Festival (Kanaiwa Summer Festival)
- Kanazawa Port Area-Kanaiwa’s largest festival of the year
- Kenrokuen Garden in the Evening (Fireflies in the Night)
- Enjoy the mezmerizing light of the fireflies at night.
Experience the Seaside of Kanazawa
Allow the refreshing sea breeze to relieve you from the summer heat at Uchinada Beach. Every summer, surfers flock to this popular beach spot to catch a ride on its gentle waves or linger near its shallow waters, tame enough for families with little ones to dip their toes in to cool off. Uchinada Beach is just 40 minutes by train from Kanazawa Station, making it an easy day trip to spend in the summer sun at one of the three largest dunes in Japan. There’ll be plenty of space to find your own spot on the sandy beach. In addition, you might be able to take in Uchinada Beach’s famous sunset view in the early evening as the sun dips along the horizon.
Follow the Sea of Japan coastline to the old port towns of Kanaiwa and Ono to see Kanazawa’s thriving trade heritage preserved in these charming townscapes. During Kanazawa’s feudal era, the historic Kitamae trade ships traveling between Hokkaido and Osaka docked at Kanaiwa and Ono and the towns prospered. The pedestrian-friendly streets provide a wonderful opportunity to capture the old town feel. Ono’s soy sauce storehouses may also reveal a glimpse into the famous art of soy sauce production in the area. If the summer heat gets to be too much, storehouses converted into stylish galleries and cafés are the perfect spot to duck into for a refreshing drink and snack while being surrounded by the charm of the building.
How to Pack for Summer in Kanazawa
Kanazawa’s early summer months are rainy and brisk in the mornings before transitioning into hot and humid weather in the later months. Therefore, we recommend bringing light layers and easy-to-carry rainwear, depending on what month you visit.
Mid-June to mid-July is Kanazawa’s rainy season, so a handy foldable umbrella is a must if you want to stay dry during unexpected rainfall. Even if you find yourself without one, you can rent an umbrella from the Kanazawa Station Tourist Information Center or Kanazawa Central Tourist Information Center for easy pickup and drop off. The evening and early mornings can be on the cool side, so we recommend you bring a stole or light jacket that you can easily pack in your day pack.
July and August are Kanazawa’s hottest and most humid months, so we advise well-ventilated layers, a hat, sunglasses, and a parasol to combat heat stroke.
June to July: Pack long-sleeved shirts, short-sleeved shirts, light outerwear, cardigans, stoles, and a folding umbrella.
July to August: Short-sleeved shirts, quick-drying layers, a hat, parasol, and sunglasses.
We can’t forget that Kanazawa is also a city of art museums, so you can easily find solace from the elements in their air-conditioned rooms. Bring a light cardigan with you to put on while taking in an art show or relaxing with a refreshing drink.