April 2019: 5 Events Not to Miss in Tokyo


Early spring is usually a bustling, eventful time, what with the many events and festivals dedicated to Japan’s beloved, iconic cherry blossoms, which mark the start of the season. But aside from the many cherry blossom festivals and related activities, here are five other events you might want to check out. (And, speaking of blossoms, don’t forget about the other spring flowers also worth checking out!)

It’s also worth noting that 2019 is the last time for these events to be held in the Heisei era with the Emperor’s abdication on April 30—so why not mark the end of an era with these fun festivities?

Tokyo Cheapo has the best deal on Ninja Mobile WiFi, Japan's leading Pocket WiFi device rental service for international travelers, with more than 30% off click here for details
 Suggested Activity 

1. Kanamara Matsuri (April 7)

tokyo april events
Photo by Takanori used under CC

It’s that time of the year again—the infamous Kanamara Matsuri, better known as the “Penis Festival” is back. While the event has certainly gotten bigger and more crowded over the years, it’s interesting to note that the event seems better known among foreigners than locals. It’s actually more of a quirky fringe event that garners enough media attention than a festival that’s known to the mainstream public. Still, we won’t judge you if you want to check out the festivities for yourself!

The highlight of the event is a procession in which three steel phalli—in honor of a blacksmith who used a steel phallus to kill a demon living in a woman’s naughty bits—are paraded around the neighborhood. The side attractions and activities, such as a radish-carving contest (guess the shape you’re supposed to carve them into) are also quite popular. Genital-shaped candy is a crowd favorite, with long lines forming at booths that sell them.

Have fun, but don’t go too wild—wacky as the event may seem, it still does have a religious element to it, after all, and definitely don’t use the fact that it’s a sex-related festival to harass others!

 Kanamara "Penis" Festival 2019

kanamara penis festival
Dates:5th Apr, 2020

2. Ichiyo Sakura Festival/Oiran Dochu Procession (April 13)

The Ichiyo Sakura Festival is a tribute to a kind of late-blooming cherry blossom called ichiyo, as well as to Yoshiwara, the famous pleasure quarter of Edo (the ancient name of Tokyo).

The star of the festival is the Oiran Dochu parade, the route of which includes the ground on which Yoshiwara once stood 400 years ago. A reenactment of oiran (courtesan) processions, the Oiran Dochu, with neighborhood residents dressed as oiran and their attendants, is a colorful sight to behold.

Aside from the parade, the festival will also feature a kabuki performance, traditional dances, stage shows, and a flea market. To get an idea of what the event is like, read fellow cheapo Grigoris’s write-up here.

Is It Safe to Travel to Hong Kong read more
Hong Kong Cheapo

Something to note, though, is that the event is small, and that Asakusa residents might not even be familiar with it. If all else fails, head north of Sensoji and look for Asakusa 4-chome and 5-chome.

Note: this event will be held on Apr. 14th in case of rain on the 13th. It may, however, be canceled if the weather is particularly bad.

Visiting Tokyo soon? Don’t leave without downloading our ebook!
20% off coupon code: TYO7382.

 Asakusa Kannon-ura Ichiyo Sakura Festival

Dates:11th Apr, 2020

Yoyogi Park Wanwan Carnival (April 13-14)

Photo by Daniel Ramirez used under CC

If you love dogs, doggos, doges, puppers, or whatever you call them, head on to Yoyogi Park to see some real good boys at the Wanwan Carnival (“wanwan” being the Japanese term that kids use to refer to dogs). Bring your good boy/s too, if you have some of your own.

With activities and attractions such as a dog cafe, opportunities to meet therapy and rescue dogs, free check-ups and nail trimming services for your dog, contests, and games, this is the perfect event for dog lovers. Additionally, there will be a “Wanwan Shopping Mall”—that is, rows of booths selling doggy treats and other goodies for your canine friends.

 Yoyogi Park Wanwan Carnival

Dates:Mid Apr, 2020

4. Yabusame events

If you think regular archery is already challenging enough, wait until you see yabusame (horseback archery); you’ll gain a lot of respect for the marksmanship of yabusame archers. Since there are two upcoming yabusame events that are unrelated but taking place on the same week, we’ve included them both:

tokyo events april
Photo by Yuki Shimazu used under CC

Kamakura Festival (April 14-21)

Photo by Glenn Waters used under CC

A yearly tradition since 1959, the Kamakura Festival is Kamakura’s major spring festival. Activities under this week-long event mostly take place on the grounds of Kamakura’s famous Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. You won’t want to miss the yabusame performance, which takes place on April 21 from 1:00 pm. Other activities held on other dates include a kyudo (Japanese archery) competition (date and time undisclosed), traditional dances, and more.

 Kamakura Matsuri

Yabusame Kamakura
Late Apr, 2020

But if Kamakura’s too far for you, here’s where you can see yabusame without having to take a day trip to Kamakura (sadly, not for free, though):

Asakusa Yabusame Festival (April 20)

This event starts with a kusajishi ceremony (from 11:45 am), in which archers (on foot, not on horseback) shoot a deer-shaped target made out of grass. After that is the much-awaited yabusame (from 1 pm).

Due to the thick crowd that this event typically attracts, the organizers highly recommend buying a ticket (¥3,000, which includes a souvenir) for a seat, and you can do so by filling out and mailing this form (Japanese) or calling 03-5246-1447. Only 550 seats are available.

Otherwise, there’s always the free viewing area, but the organizers reserve the right to restrict entry for safety and crowd control, so it’s best to get there early—before 11 am—to be sure.

 Asakusa Yabusame

Dates:Mid Apr, 2020

5. Earth Day Tokyo (April 20-21)

Join the rest of the world in celebrating Earth Day by visiting Yoyogi Park on April 21st and 22nd. There will be a flea market filled with eco-friendly products, and you can take your pick from a range of healthy, GMO-free food. (If you’re vegan and/or into the organic food movement, this is the event for you). If you want to chill, there’ll be music and performances, and if you want to volunteer for environmental causes, you can network with various NGOs, NPOs, and citizen groups.

 Earth Day Tokyo 2020

Earth Day Tokyo 2015
Late Apr, 2020
Written by:
Filed under: Events, Things to do
Tags: April, Arts And Crafts, Earth Day, Event, Flowers, Horseback Archery, Spring, Yabusame
Tokyo Cheapo small logo

Watch this next
New Video: It’s The Great Snoopy Museum, Charlie Brown

Hangout with Snoopy and the gang at the newly reopened Snoppy Museum in Tokyo.

Get our Tokyo Cheapo Hacks direct to your inbox

Recommended hotels located nearby