Spring is coming to a close, so best to make use of the pleasant weather in May before it begins to get uncomfortably humid in June.
We’ve rounded up the best festivals and events you’ll find in Tokyo this month, and believe me, there’s a lot to get through.
1. Golden WeekApril 29–May 7
All over and around Tokyo
Golden Week, a string of holidays in late April to early May, is a welcome respite for Tokyo’s frazzled workforce, a cash cow for the travel and transport industries, and a bane (in terms of price, traffic, and crowd density at tourist areas) to travelers — all at the same time.
If you’re in Tokyo for Golden Week, it might be better to just stay where you are and check out the many events that will be held during this time (and read our guide to Golden Week while you’re at it!).
Here are some of the top things to see and do split into categories:
- Meiji Shrine Spring Grand Festival (Apr. 30–May 3)
- Kurayami Festival (Apr. 30–May 6)
- Kazo Citizens’ Peace Festival (May 3)
- Ōme Grand Festival (May 2–3)
- Koinobori at Tokyo Tower (Mar. 24–May 7)
Still stuck on what to do? We have plenty of more events listed on our website.
2. Kanda MatsuriMay 11–17
Kanda Myōjin Shrine, Akihabara
Held during odd-numbered years and alternating with the Sanno Matsuri, Kanda Matsuri is one of Tokyo’s three major Shinto festivals. The main event takes place on the weekend of May 13–14. It starts at Kanda Myōjin — one of Tokyo’s famous shrines — on Saturday morning with a grand procession of over 200 mikoshi (portable shrines) and people in traditional clothing, and goes around the neighborhoods of Kanda, Nihonbashi, and Otemachi. The next day’s parade features mikoshi from different neighborhoods and communities.
The other events that comprise Kanda Matsuri, such as ceremonies to transfer the shrine’s deities to the mikoshi, are smaller in scale and do not take place all day.
3. Sanja MatsuriMay 19–21
Sensōji Temple, Asakusa
Also a major Tokyo festival, Sanja Matsuri features three main mikoshi in honor of the three founders of Asakusa’s famous temple, Sensōji — which is also the festival’s center of activity. The mikoshi depart from Sensōji early in the morning and are carried around town, as performers — including geisha — join in. Yakuza members are also known to show off their intricate tattoos at this rowdy, energetic festival. Meanwhile, back at Sensōji, there will be taiko performances and traditional dances by miko (shrine maidens).
4. Design FestaMay 20–21
Tokyo Big Sight, Ariake
The twice-a-year Design Festa is known as Asia’s largest art event. With over 15,000 exhibitors and 4,500 booths, this two-day fair is dedicated to all kinds of art—performance art, paintings, live drawing sessions, handmade crafts, fashion, and more — so art enthusiasts are sure to find something that suits their tastes here. Attending in alternative fashion such as steampunk or Lolita (but not in cosplay, as it involves copyrighted characters) is very much welcome at this event.
|Advance sales: ¥800||At the door: ¥1,000|
5. Zushi Beach Fireworks FestivalMay 26
Zushi Beach, Kanagawa
A sample of what’s to come this summer, the Zushi Beach Fireworks Festival is one of the earliest firework festivals on the calendar. 7,000 jets of light will blast off into the sky for 45 minutes from 7:30 p.m. With one of the most impressive finales of the year, 5,000 of those fireworks will go off in the last 15 minutes.