This year, Golden Week holidays begin on April 28 with many of the events spanning the whole week and ending on May 6. There are plenty of fun ones to choose from, so you’ll have no problems filling up your holiday schedule!
ShootTokyo Exhibition – April 26-May 5
A fantastic chance to see the work of ShootTokyo—aka photographer Dave Powell—while sipping on the best coffee or craft beer in the city.
Ramen Girls Festival – April 26-May 6
A ramen festival celebrating women and girls who like to chow down! Contrary to the name though, all genders are welcome to enjoy in a bowl of hearty ramen. There are plenty of different ones to try, and ring in at ¥900 a pop.
Nikufes – April 27-May 6
Niku is the Japanese word for “meat”—and a lot of it is what you can expect at this festival. Meat from Japan and abroad will be served up in every form imaginable: kebabs, hot dogs, steak, roast pork, xiaolongbao, and much more.
Akabane Baka Festival – April 28-29
Started in 1956, this event was originally an April-Fool’s-type festival. Nowadays, however, you can expect the more traditional elements of a local festival: parades, costumes, dance performances, food stalls and a flea market too.
Meiji Shrine Spring Grand Festival – April 28-May 7
Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Every spring the shrine holds a week-long event spanning Golden Week that features an impressive lineup of traditional performing arts presentations. Festivities include traditional Japanese music, theater and dance performances and a main Shinto ceremony.
Spring Oktoberfest – April 28-May 7
The spring edition of Oktoberfest will be taking place in Odaiba over Japan’s Golden Week holiday. Entrance is free but food and drink is pay as you go. There will be a plethora of beer stalls, featuring both German and local Japanese brews, and food stands with the usual German fare, like pretzels, sausage, sauerkraut and more.
Tokyo Rainbow Pride – April 28-May 6
Tokyo Rainbow Pride celebrates Tokyo’s LGBT community with 60 events held throughout the week. These include performances and booths in Yoyogi Park for LGBT-friendly businesses. Finally, Rainbow Week finishes off with the highlight of any Pride event: a 3km-long parade around the Harajuku/Shibuya area. All welcome!
Ryogoku Nigiwai Festival – April 29-30
Ryogoku, aka “Sumo Town”, holds an annual festival celebrating the sport and the culture around it.Celebrations take place at multiple locations in the area including the Kokugikan (national sumo stadium), the Edo Tokyo Museum and the Sumida Hokusai Museum. Plus lots of food stalls serving chanko nabe (sumo stew).
Kurayami Festival – April 30-May 6
This festival is touted as one of the “three strangest festivals in Kanto”. Among the oddities will funny costumes, colorful mantou dances and bellies with faces painted on. Festival favorites include food stalls, floats, lanterns and various performances. The event takes place mainly around Okunitama Shrine in Fuchu over a period of 6 days.
Odaiba Hawaii Festival – April 30-May 6
This year’s festival will feature Hawaiian music performances by national and international artists, a Polynesian show, Tahitian and hula dance shows, and Hawaiian market where you can pick up goods and snack on tasty Hawaiian food.
Coming up and not-to-be-missed
Haisai Festival of Okinawan Culture – May 2-6
The Haisai Festa is an annual event which celebrates the many aspects of Okinawan culture—from cuisine, music, dance, traditional arts and more. A major draw of course are the various food and drink stalls serving up local specialties (like soba and awamori). And stick around for the traditional eisa performances with plenty of energetic singing, chanting, dancing and drumming.
Pete Johansson: International Comedy Headliner – May 9
Prepare yourself for a belly full of laughs as funnyman Pete Johansson graces the stage in Shimokitazawa. Johansson gained international acclaim thanks to his popular Netflix special You Might Also Enjoy Pete Johannson, which was released in 82 countries, and a powerful appearance on Comedy Central’s This is Not Happening
Design Festa Vol. 47 – May 12-13
Asia’s largest art event returns to Tokyo Bight Sight in Odaiba in May. Pre-purchase a ticket for ¥800 and feast your eyes on over 10,000 exhibitions. That’s cheaper than most exhibitions at the National Art Center in Roppongi, and the ambiance will be less stuffy too.
Make Your Own Ramen and Gyoza in Asakusa
Want to do something a little more hands on during your Golden Week holidays? Why not try a cooking class in Asakusa where you’ll learn to make ramen and Japanese dumplings from scratch.