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Osaka’s Most Festive Few Days

Having lived in both Thailand and the US states of Florida and Texas, I consider myself pretty adept at handling heat and humidity. Additionally, my 2023 summer trip to Japan was not my first visit to the country during that season.

And yet when I arrived at the Osaka Tenmangu shrine one afternoon in late July, I was badly struggling. I felt like the air was solid, my body liquid or even vapor. Certainly, the mess of a person I saw during the unfortunate moments I passed a mirror seemed to reflect this. I looked sloppy, slovenly.

I say this not to discourage you from attending the Osaka Tenjin Matsuri. Quite to the contrary: In spite of how miserable Japan is during this time of year, I absolutely think the festival is worthy of your time.

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When is the 2024 Osaka Tenjin Matsuri?

Compared to its counterpart up the proverbial road in Kyoto, the Osaka festival is much less unruly. It occurs over just two days—July 24 and July 25—with only the second being relevant for most foreign tourists. The first day, to be sure, is mostly just preparation work. It’s not until 3 PM on the second day, when a jubilant parade read south from Osaka Tenman-gu shrine, the the fireworks really start.

Not literally—the hanabi don’t begin getting set off until around 7:30 PM, by which point it’s best if you’ve found your way to Genpachi Bridge. Here, you can watch the floats (which will have been placed on floating barges) make their way up the O River, lit by the colorful explosions in the air above, Osaka Castle towering in the distance. TIP: En route from the shrine to the bridge, there are plenty of snacks and drinks to keep you engage.

What to Do at Tenjin Matsuri 2024

Start at Osaka Tenman-gu


As I explained earlier in this post, Tenjin Matsuri (at least as you probably imagine it) begins at 3 PM, in the street that extends due south of Osaka Tenman-gu shrine. I like to get to the area a bit early, whether to wander around the shrine amid final preparations, or to get a snack in the shotengai between the station and the shrine.

Watch (and follow) the procession


Similar to other summer festivals in Japan, Osaka Tenjin Festival starts with a parade. Specifically, an array of floats, dancers and musicians emerge from the aforementioned shrine; if you get a spot on a corner a block or two south, this is really best for viewing. At some point, you may want to walk alongside the parade, or even to walk away from it once you’ve seen enough.

Eat your way along the river


Once you’ve had your fill of the festivities, head due south until you dead-end into the O River; hang a right and begin walking east. While the path eventually snakes away from the river, it will eventually curve north, taking you to the general part of the city where you’ll need to be for the next phase of the festival. There’s plenty to eat along this route, from kakigori to takoyaki, plus a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Watch the fireworks from Genpachi Bridge


Although the Tenjin festival isn’t known for its hanabi, there is nonetheless a humble fireworks display. To get here, set your GPS for Genpachi Bridge—which, if you’ve followed my instructions so far, won’t be such a far walk. Once here, get as close to the middle of the bridge as you can, and ideally no later than 7, to get a perfect spot before the show begins.

Get back before everywhere else does


Although the fireworks (and the floats making their way up the river, on barges, beneath them) last for 90 minutes, I don’t recommend staying on the bridge the entire time. Why? Well, unless you’re staying right by the river, all the nearby train stations (and the pedestrian paths leading to them) will be an absolute nightmare. It’s best to leave a bit early, whether you head to Dotonbori for a street food dinner, or just go back to your hotel.

Is Tenjin Matsuri Worth It?

As long as you plan to be in Osaka on July 25, Tenjin Matsuri is for my money the Japanese festival that’s easiest to attend. You simply need to get to Osaka Tenman-gu an hour or so before the parade begins, and be able to work your way along the river from about 4 PM (the best parts of the parade will be finished, by this point) to reach Genpachi Bridge by about 7. If you can do this, you get a front row seat to the festival.

Because Osaka has so many hotels and abundant rail and air connections to the rest of the fan, even the relatively large number of revelers who come for the Tenjin Matsuri makes only a small impact on them. By contrast, you’ll need to reserve accommodation (and maybe transport) to smaller cities like Tokushima and Aomori weeks or even months in advance. So yes, the Tenjin Matsuri is worth it.

Other FAQ About Osaka’s 2024 Tenjin Matsuri

What is the biggest festival in Osaka?

Tenjin Matsuri is the biggest festival not only in Osaka, but is also one of the three biggest festivals in Japan. Taking place across two days in late July every year, it is furthermore a relatively easy festival to attend, presuming that you will be in Osaka anyway.

What time are the fireworks at Tenjin Matsuri?

The Tenjin Matsuri fireworks begin at 7:30 pm every July 25, and are launched from Sakuranomiya Park just on the east bank of the O River. Although some people like to be right by where the launch from, I would avoid this for various reasons.

Where can I watch Tenjin Matsuri fireworks?

In my opinion, the best vantage point for the Tenjin Matsuri fireworks is Genpachi Bridge. At you look south over the O River, you can not only see the hanabi launching into the sky, but the floats making their way up the river, as well as Osaka Castle looming in the distance.

The Bottom Line

Although it takes place during the most miserable time of year you can visit Japan, Osaka Tenjin Matsuri is absolutely worth the hassle. For one, Osaka’s large size and convenience mean you won’t have any problem getting on a train to the city, or booking a hotel room for once you get there. Secondly, since the “meat” of the festival takes place over a single afternoon and evening, it doesn’t have to be the end-all, be-all of your time there. While attending other festivals in Japan contextualizes your experience in Osaka, this of course isn’t necessary. Another way to get the most bang for your buck? Hire me to plan your trip!


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