This glorious four-day weekend is jam-packed with festivals, exhibitions and other cheap or free events, so get ready for double the fun in the capital city.
Kick off the string of public holidays with a visit to the Cinco de Mayo festivities at Yoyogi Park. Originally a Mexican celebration, this version is a melting pot of music, dance, food and drinks from all over the Americas – including Mexico, the USA, Peru, Brazil, Cuba, Chile and more.
While you’re wandering around Yoyogi, stop by Meiji Jingu Shrine to enjoy some traditional performing arts in the annual Spring Grand Festival on May 3rd.
Another big event happening in the area is the Harajuku Kawaii!! Fes (written just like that) – think cute, pink, marshmallowy and quintessentially Harajuku – with a special performance by the Queen of Kawaii herself, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. You can pre-register for free entry to the “fes”, but you’ll need some Japanese.
If candy pop isn’t your favourite genre, perhaps the La Folle Journee au Japan, a classical music festival that originated in France, might be more your scene. It’s on at the Tokyo International forum from May 3-5.
Cheapo Alert: Entrance to Ueno Zoo is free on May 4th
Moomin fans should pop by the exhibition that’s happening in Ginza until May 6th, while bargain hunters might want to browse the stalls at the gigantic Doki-Doki Flea Market that’s on at Makuhari Messe from May 3-5. You can take the kids (both in age and spirit) to the Tomy Plarail Expo that’s also on there – 900 yen gets you in and a toy train or car.
If you’re looking for something a little different to do, head down to the Darkness Festival (Kurayami Matsuri) at Okunitama Jinja, one of Tokyo’s oldest shrines, in Fuchu City. Portable shrines (mikoshi) will be carried in a night parade that leaves the shrine at 6pm on May 5th, returning around 4am the following day.
Finally, if you’re in the vicinity of Tokyo Tower on Monday, look out for the hundreds of carp decorations (koi no bori) strung up to celebrate Children’s Day.
Tokyo and Japan have a reputation for the strange and unusual museums.