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Hana Matsuri – Buddha’s Birthday (April 8): Hana means flower, so at this festival a herbal tea made from hydrangeas is poured over a small Buddha statue as part of a celebration ritual. There’s free tea for visitors from 10:30 to 15:00, and a large white elephant—a symbol of the big man himself—goes for a spin around the Sensoji Temple grounds in Asakusa.
Asakusa Kannon-ura Ichiyo Sakura Festival (April 8): Don’t miss the Oiran Dochu, a procession of traditional Japanese courtesans or “women of pleasure”. Head to the streets of Asakusa to see brilliantly colored kimonos, whimsical makeup and traditional performances by the experts of “old-world charm”. There will also be stage shows and a flea market. Procession starts at 1pm.
Machida Ramen Festival (April 8-10): This weekend is round two of this six-part foodie festival. Bowls of ramen are 850 yen a pop and you can taste various regional flavors hailing from all over the country. This year they have also added fried rice and dumplings, so you basically never need to leave.
Flower Festival at Showa Kinen Park (on until May): This festival is not for any one flower in particular as there are many different gardens and flower fields. The park is known however for its tulips, which are set to bloom in mid-April.
National Museum of Western Art – Free Admission Day (April 8): This Saturday, check out the extensive collection at the Museum of Western Art in Ueno Park for free. Works includes paintings from the late medieval period through to the 20th century and modern French sculpture. Artists include Ruebens, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock and many more.
Cherry Blossoms: Of course, cherry blossoms are still going strong across Tokyo. Some of the major festivals are the Sumida Park Festival, where you can take a boat ride along the sakura-lined river, and the Ueno Park Cherry Blossom Festival—it’s quite a vision, but everyone thinks so, so be prepared for crowds. And remember not to leave just because the sun is setting, both festivals have nighttime illuminations, which make everything ethereally more beautiful.
Tokyo and Japan have a reputation for the strange and unusual museums.