A Visitor’s Guide to Japanese Festival

After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we couldn’t be more excited for Japanese Festival to return. Celebrating the history, culture, and people of Japan, the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the largest and oldest festivals of its kind in the United States. Since 1977, the Garden has proudly hosted this unique event at one of the largest Japanese gardens in North America. A fruitful collaboration with several local Japanese-American organizations provides authentic Japanese music, art, dance, food, and entertainment for thousands of visitors each year.

All your favorite vendors, performances, and foods will still make this year’s Festival an experience you won’t want to miss, but if you haven’t visited the Garden in a while, things might look a little bit different. While construction is ongoing on our new Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center, we are welcoming visitors via a Temporary Visitor Center. While we operate out of this temporary space and continue to take measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19, here is our guide to navigating the 2021 Japanese Festival!

Authentic Japanese music, art, dance, food, and entertainment make Japanese Festival an event that you won’t want to miss. Photos by Lisa DeLorenzo Hager, Karen Fletcher, and Daniel Yaroschevsky.

Advance Tickets Are Required

Advanced admission is required for Japanese Festival this year in an effort to help control crowds, and same-day admission cannot be guaranteed, so be sure to get your tickets ahead of time!

As is always the case on festival weekends, there will be no early walking hours or free admission for St. Louis residents on Saturday, and trams will not be running.

COVID-19 Precautions Will Be in Place

The following COVID-19 restrictions will be in place during the Festival:

  • The Garden will be accepting cashless transactions only.
  • Daily capacity will be reduced by more than 25%, and maximum capacity will be in place for the first time in the Festival’s history. 
  • Face masks are required indoors for visitors 5 years or older. Face masks are recommended for all visitors outdoors when social distancing is not possible.
  • Our staff will be working to regularly sanitize high-touch surfaces.
  • Additional hand-sanitizing stations will be available throughout Garden grounds.
  • Drinking fountains are currently not operating, but there are several water bottle refilling stations available throughout Garden grounds. Be sure to bring along a reusable water bottle so that you can stay cool and take advantage of these hydration stations! If you happen to forget your water bottle, there will be reusable bottles and single-use recyclable water bottles available for purchase in the Temporary Visitor Center.

Bring a reusable water bottle and sanitize regularly at our sanitation stations! Photo by Cassidy Moody.

Additional Parking Is Available in Our Multi-Modal Lots

Did you know that the Garden has multi-modal overflow lots available in addition to its main lot? During popular events like Japanese Festival, our main visitor parking lot often fills up early in the day. In the event that the parking lot is full, visitors should use the free parking at the Metro multi-modal lots at the corner of Shaw Boulevard and Vandeventer Avenue, just a couple blocks from the main entrance.

The multi-modal lots are located just west of the Garden at the intersection of Shaw and Vandeventer. Scroll through the gallery for a parking map and images of each lot.

Enter Through Our Temporary Visitor Center

During the construction of our new Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center, visitors enter the Garden through our Temporary Visitor Center. The Temporary Visitor Center is located just east of the former main entrance to the Garden. A drop-off area with a sloping sidewalk is available just to the left of the stairs for those with mobility challenges.

Vendors and food will be located just outside the Temporary Visitor Center and in the Linnean House for this year’s Festival. Please bear with us as we work to bring this beloved event back in this temporary space by allowing a bit of extra time for your arrival and visit.

Scroll through the gallery for more information on finding the Temporary Visitor Center.

Enjoy the Festival!

Once you’ve made it inside, all that’s left to do is to enjoy the sights and sounds (and tastes!) of Japanese Festival. Plan your visit ahead of time by checking out our schedule of events:

Festival Schedule and Program App


View the program and schedule of activities instantly on the Japanese Festival web app using a web browser on a desktop, smartphone, or tablet.
Scroll or click on the ‘phone’ just like a web page.


Download the Print Program 

Download to view a PDF of the program and schedule of activities.


Kristina Schall DeYong
Digital Media Specialist

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