Obon Festival 2023 | Dates & Travel tips

In Japan, Obon is a custom to hold memorial services for ancestors in summer. The Obon period can be in mid-July or mid-August, depending on the region, but it is in mid-August that traffic, tourist attractions, amusement parks, etc. are most affected by crowds. Many companies and stores take their summer vacation during this period, which is called “Obon vacation,” so please be careful when traveling.

When is Obon in 2023?

Obon in August is from August 13 to 16 each year.

However, August 11 (Friday) is a national holiday. Therefore, in 2023, many companies and stores will have Obon vacations from Aug. 11 (Fri.) to Aug. 16 (Wed.).

Services during Obon Holiday

Many service businesses are open normally, as staff take turns taking summer vacations, but small, privately owned stores are often closed.

Normal business during the Obon period

  • Public institutions
  • Banks and post offices
  • Public transportation (buses, trains, bullet trains, airplanes, etc.)
  • Supermarkets and department stores
  • Sightseeing spots, amusement parks, etc.
  • Large restaurants and stores

Closed during Obon (some are open)

  • Private restaurants and stores
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Many companies
  • Markets
    Toyosu Market will be closed from Aug. 13 (Sun.) to 15 (Tue.).

What about traffic congestion during the Obon period?

On the night of Aug. 10 (Thursday) and on Aug. 11 and 12
Expect heavy congestion on roads, bullet trains, and airplanes from Tokyo to the regional cities.

Aug. 14 (Mon.) and 15 (Tue.)
Expect heavy congestion on roads, bullet trains, and airplanes heading to Tokyo.

Stations and highway parking areas are also expected to be very crowded. Restrooms at stations (especially women’s restrooms) will be very crowded, so it is safer to go to the restroom before entering the station or use it earlier. Expressway parking areas are also crowded with toilets, but even before that, it takes time to enter the parking area. Consideration should be given to how to drink water and how to take breaks.

How crowded are tourist attractions and amusement parks during the Obon period?

Accommodations in tourist areas are expected to be crowded. On the contrary, business districts such as Tokyo and Osaka will be very quiet. Restaurants may also be closed, so it is better to check in advance.

Will the fireworks display be held in 2023?

fireworks display

Many fireworks displays have been cancelled for the past three years to prevent the spread of the new corona infection. 2023 is expected to be a normal year. Although there are currently no restrictions on activities to prevent the spread of infection, the organizers may ask for cooperat

Japan in typhoon season?

Typhoons may occur in Japan from summer to autumn. If you plan to travel to Japan during this period, please check weather information. Please refer to the following article for information on typhoons and the weather in Japan.

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