Spring is coming soon, so what better way to welcome the season than to go out and have some fun? If you’re not sure what to do, no worries—let our guide help you out! This month, we’ve got a traditional festival, an event for foodies, an “imported” festival, an event for anime lovers and, of course, cherry blossoms on our list.
1. Hiwatari-Sai (Mar. 12)
Where: Takaosan Yakuoin Temple (access: Takaosanguchi Station)
Time: 1 pm-5 pm
Come join this yearly fire-walking ritual at Mount Takao, during which barefooted monks chant sutras and prayers for good health and other blessings while walking atop smoldering embers. Visitors are welcome to try walking atop the embers as well, but only after they’ve slightly cooled down—safety first, after all! This ritual is said to bring good luck, but for extra luck, auspicious items such as purifying salt will also be sold at the festival.
Note that while this event is organized by Takaosan Yakuoin Temple, which is atop Mount Takao, the fire-walking festival takes place at a public square that’s a 5-minute walk from Takaosanguchi Station.
2. Ramen Girls’ Festival (Mar. 16-20)
Where: Yokohama Akarenga Event Square (access: Sakuragicho/Kannai/Bashamichi/Nihon-Odori/Minatomirai Stations)
Time: 11:00 am-9:00 pm
Admission: free; just pay for what you order (900 yen per bowl)
Who says women can’t enjoy ramen? Well, in Japan, where it’s not uncommon for people to have rigid ideas of what counts as masculine and feminine (even to this day), some people regard eating ramen as a masculine preference or pastime. But Ramen Girls’ Festival wants to do away with that image and to show that women can and do love ramen, too! With 12 booths serving ramen in smaller portions, the event also intends to attract women who shy away from ramen, thinking that it’s too greasy or heavy. This isn’t a women-only event, by the way, men are welcome too!
3. St. Patrick’s Day in Tokyo (Mar. 18-19)
Where: Yoyogi Park/around Omotesando for the parade (access: Harajuku/Meiji-jingumae Stations)
Time: 10:00 am-5:00 pm (parade: Mar. 19 only, 1:00-3:00 pm)
To introduce Ireland and Irish culture to the Japanese, the Irish Network in Japan (INJ) started holding a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Tokyo in 1992, and since then, it’s become an annual tradition to hold it on the weekend closest to the big day. 2017 marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Japan, and it also marks the 25th anniversary of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Tokyo, so this year is a significant one for the INJ.
The parade is just one part of the celebrations, though. Held on the same weekend is the “I Love Ireland” festival, a celebration of all things Irish. Visitors can enjoy food, music, dances, and—of course—good old Irish beer at the event.
4. Anime Japan (Mar. 25-26)
Where: Tokyo Big Sight, East Halls 1-6 (access: Kokusai-Tenjijo/Ariake/Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon Station)
Time: 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Admission: 1,800 yen (advanced selling); 2,200 yen (on-site) / free for children of elementary school age and younger
Anime Japan’s tagline tells you all you need to know about the event: “Here is everything about anime.” This event’s scale grows ever larger each year, but basically, what you can expect from Anime Japan are information on upcoming anime, exhibits, official merchandise booths (including sneak peeks at upcoming merchandise—some booths even sell them in advance or take pre-orders—and event exclusives), stage shows, freebies, cosplay, and seminars on the anime industry (sadly, only in Japanese). There’s also a family area for wholesome, kid-oriented anime; only children of elementary school age and younger, as well as their guardians, can access this area.
5. Cherry blossom festivals (from late March)
Where: around Tokyo
Lastly, no guide to events in March would be complete without Japan’s famous cherry blossom festivals. This year, the forecasted blooming date for cherry blossoms in Tokyo is March 25th. There are so many festivals to celebrate the blooming of Japan’s beloved flower, so we’ve got several handy articles to help you. Whether you just want to see them in the daytime, to see them while doing something fun, or to admire them all lit up at night, we’ve got those bases covered. And if those still aren’t enough, we also have a guide to sakura-themed products! Stay tuned as we update these guides.