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. This year is a little different however, with Covid-cancellations closing down the majority of events.

We have left our usual recommendations below for those planning 2021 (or just intent on imagining the best events this month) with two potentially going ahead – Earth Day and the Wan Wan dog festival. There are some alternative, smaller events expected to go ahead however. If you don’t fancy the crowds, then here are some alternative ideas for what to do during the cancellations.

  • Beyond the Senses: Ambre Cardinal | April 4th – 10th
  • Electric Universe Laser Harp Planet | April 11th
  • John Hopkins Presents Outlier | April 18th
  • Improv Comedy in English and Japanese | April 19th
  • Oliver Heldens Japan Tour Warp Party | April 24th
  • Improvazilla Comedy Night | April 24th
  • TCPT presents Thunderbolt feat. Oliver Heldens | April 25th
  • Nakizumo Crying Baby Festival | Late April
  • Japanese Tea Party with Koto Performance | April 29th
  • Our Usual Suggestions (Aim for 2021!)

    1. Kanamara Matsuri | April 5th {Cancelled}

    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!

    2. Ichiyo Sakura Festival/Oiran Dochu Procession | April 11th {Cancelled}

    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).

    Suggested Activity
    National Japan Rail Pass
    The JR Pass is a 1 week pass that allows unlimited travel on Japan Rail lines throughout the country. This ticket is extraordinarily good value for long distance and inter-city travel. *Restrictions: Can only be purchased by temporary visitor visa holders not already in Japan. ...

    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.

    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.

    Best Value Flights To Tokyo

    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.

    Yoyogi Park Wanwan Carnival | April 11th-12th

    This event is going ahead so far, but we suggest checking offical accounts before attending.

    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.

    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 12th – 19th {Cancelled}

    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.

    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 18th {Cancelled}

    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 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.

    5. Earth Day Tokyo (April 18th – 20th) {TBC}

    This event is going ahead so far, but an announcement will be made on March 25th.

    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.

Ask our local experts about Tokyo

Get our Tokyo Cheapo Hacks direct to your inbox

Watch this next

Recommended hotels located nearby