Latest forecasts have the cherry blossoms starting this Sunday, but it won’t really kick-off properly until the weekend of March 23/24. Meanwhile, save that hanami anticipation and enjoy some of what’s on offer around Tokyo.

The best free events round-up this weekend starts with the Tokyo Outdoor Weekend (link in Japanese) event happening throughout the Harajuku/Shibuya area.  The event will center on the event square at Yoyogi Park, but there will also be related activities at Miyashita Park near Shibuya Station and at ‘fashion shops’ throughout the area. The event is difficult to define, but it’s basically the anti-Otaku festival – with activities including football, wall climbing, running, camping, graffiti, music, outdoor reading and a flea market. There will also be two stages with a full programme of bands, DJs and other performers.  The event runs from 10am to 6pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Closest stations are Shibuya Station on various lines and Harajuku/Meijijingumae Station on the JR Yamanote and Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin and Chiyoda Lines.

Just a stone’s throw away on Sunday is Tokyo’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.  The parade is held in Omotesando each year but is rarely held exactly on the feast day as it is this year. This parade is purportedly the biggest St. Paddy’s day parade in Asia with an expected 1,500 participants and 50,000 spectators. Based on past years you can expect to see marching bands, dancers, fiddlers, tin whistles and lots of other slightly more random troupes. The parade will happen from 2 to 4pm but is really just a warm up for the festivities that will be happening at an Irish pub near you.  The closest station is Omotesando on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda, Hanzomon and Ginza Lines.

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