Cheapo Weekend for March 3-4: Lantern Festival, Daruma Dolls and Early Sakura

Adriana Paradiso

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Photo by SATOSHI TOMIYAMA used under CC

Lantern Festival (Mar 2): Lunar New Year is coming to an end, and with that comes the Lantern Festival held on the 15th and final day of celebrations. There will be a display of paper lanterns on which people’s hopes and dreams for the year ahead will be written—plus lion dances. The event takes place at Ma Zhu Miao Temple in Yamashita-cho Park in Yokohama.

Takasaki Daruma
Photo by Tanaka Juuyoh used under CC

Jindaiji Temple Daruma Doll Fair (Mar 3-4): One of Japan’s three biggest daruma markets, there are around 300 street stalls selling these traditional dolls at Jindaiji Temple. Once you’ve picked a doll, have the vendor write your wish on the back of the daruma. You then take it to a special stall, where a monk will fill in the left eye with a character indicating you’ve made a wish. One year later, you come and return the old one. If your wish came true, they mark the right eye with another character representing its fulfillment. Various ceremonies also take place over the two days.



earth garden
Photo by shuzo serikawa used under CC

Earth Day Market (Mar 4): If you’re in the Harajuku area, pop by Yoyogi Park for the Earth Day Market. Earth-friendly goods can be found for sale at some 52 stalls lining the ‘Jingu Gaien Icho Namiki Avenue’ stretch between Shibuya and the main part of the park—from organic fruit/veg to fair trade products to handmade crafts.

moma tokyo
Photo by jyl4032 used under CC

Museum of Modern Art – Free Admission (Mar 4): Head to the MOMAT this Sunday and save yourself the 430 yen admission fee. The museum houses mainly Japanese works of the 20th century including a number deemed ‘Important Cultural Properties’ or masterpieces.

Photo by Izu navi used under CC

Miurakaigan Cherry Blossom Festival (Feb 5-Mar 4): Get a head start on cherry blossom viewing with a day trip to the coast of Kanagawa Prefecture, a two-hour jaunt from central Tokyo. It’s a bit of a mission to get there, but it’s worth it to see the area’s famous 1,000 sakura-lined road. The evening is even more beautiful with nightly illuminations.

plum odawara fuji
Photo by joka2000 used under CC

Plum Blossoms: This is the last call for most plum blossom festivals around Tokyo. A few of our favorites include the Setagaya Plum Festival (ends Mar 4) and the Odawara plum grove in Kanagawa Prefecture with 35,000 trees (its festival ends March 4th with a lion dance performance). Check our full plum blossom guide for all the various festival details.

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Midtown Ice Rink (until Mar 5):  This is the last weekend to go for a spin on the Tokyo Midtown ice rink. A fun and seasonal way to work off some of those winter lbs!


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