Flower festivals are more or less continuous in Japan, so as soon as Hanami ends, another one comes along to take its place. The Bunkyo Azalea festival starts today (as I write this) and will likely be in full swing this weekend. The festival is centered around Nezu Shrine – one of our recommendations in the 101 Free and Cheap Things to do in Tokyoarticle. The festival actually runs until the 6th May, although with the unseasonably warm start to spring, the petals may not hang around that long. The closest station is Nezu on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line.
You can experience a festival that is purported to demonstrate the grace of the Heian period at Sensoji temple in Asakusa this Sunday. The Heron Dance Festival will feature performers in heron costumes dancing slowly to traditional music. It sounds a little bit ridiculous but it will probably be quite a spectacle. Inspired by a similar performance in Kyoto’s Gion Festival, the ceremony was revived at Sensouji only in 1968. Along with the 8 heron dancers, there will be 3 ‘warriors’ and 19 traditional musicians. For the start time, your guess is good as ours – two calls to the temple office went unanswered. The closest station to Sensoji temple is Asakusa Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line.
Also on this both Saturday and Sunday this weekend will be the 55th Kamakura Festival in the historical seaside town of Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. The highlight this weekend will be a parade along the main drag towards Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine. The parade starts at 11am. The parade route is a major shopping street so there will be lots of stalls selling food and refreshments. The big highlight of the festival is a horseback archery display, but that takes place on April 21st. The closest station is Kamakura on the JR Yokosuka Line and the “Enoden” – possibly the cutest train line in Japan.