Tokyo events for Monday, May 22 to Sunday, May 28, 2023.
It looks like festival season truly has started with one of the first fireworks events on the beaches of Zushi this week.
If that’s not enough, there will be a parade in Shibuya, traditional activities in Shinjuku, and thrift shopping in Akasaka. We’ve also got some last-chance exhibitions and beer festivals that shouldn’t be missed before they’re gone.
Hanazono Shrine Grand Festival
The streets of Shinjuku get a whole lot busier during the annual grand festival, known as a reitaisai, of Hanazono Shrine. There will be many food stalls and festivities around the shrine on all days, but the main event takes place on Sunday. Note that while this year isn’t the “big festival”, there will still be plenty of food and fun to take part in.
Zushi Beach Fireworks Festival
Avoiding the crowded mid-summer fireworks calendar, this early summer fireworks festival takes place over the ocean adjacent to Zushi Beach. There is a paid, ticketed seating area, but you can always be a freeloader and watch from anywhere outside that area. During the 45-minute display, 7,000 fireworks will be dispatched into the night sky.
Past years have seen an estimated 180,000 people turn out to experience Laotian culture. Performances include dance troupes, traditional musicians, Lao and Japanese singers as well as workshops for language, dance and cooking. Children will be kept entertained in the Kids Corner with plenty of fun activities.
Shibuya Kagoshima Ohara Festival
Borrowed from Kagoshima, this festival features food and delicacies from the Satsuma domain as well as a parade along Dogenzaka Dori. The parade will feature taiko drumming, marching troupes, and more kimono-clad traditional dancers than you can shake a stick at.
Akasaka Antique Market in Ark Hills
The Ark Hills antique market is much classier compared to some of Tokyo’s usual fairs. In addition to the amazing finds you can usually dig up at a flea market, like jewelry and home goods, you can also find stylish clothing brands — a great chance to update your wardrobe.
This is a chance to watch yabusame, the impressive Japanese martial art of horse-mounted archery (it’s quite difficult to hit a target from a moving horse) in Asakusa. There will be two types of events: one from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., where archers will compete against each other to hit a deer target (standing up); and the yabusame event from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The first event is free to view, but the yabusame event will be difficult to see if you don’t have advanced tickets (sold-out).
Queer Social is a casual event for people who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community to mingle, drink, and make new friends in a dedicated space. Come and connect with like-minded folks at Ryozan Park Lounge. Snacks and drinks — including craft beer, coffee, and cocktails — cost from ¥500.
|At the door: ¥1,500|
Kawaii Monster Party
The Kawaii Monster Cafe may be gone but the party is back. This is the second party of 2023 after the fabulous event in February, and there’s plenty more to come. In this fantastic new show experience, you’ll get to see dancers, drag queens, DJs, and — of course — Monsters give vibrant performances as they represent Tokyo’s most dynamic neighborhoods: Shibuya, Harajuku, and Shinjuku Ni-chome.
|Advance sales: ¥2,850||At the door: ¥3,000|
Tokyo Book Swap
If you are desperate for a good read but dislike the wasteful nature of buying new (or have given up perusing the dismal shelves of BookOff), then this bi-monthly book swap event could be the start of a new chapter. Bring new or old books (in a reasonable condition) in any language or genre: fantasy, adventure, crime, you name it.
Cats in Ukiyo-e Exhibition — last chance!
Throughout history in Japan, there’s always been a fascination with felines, and before the days of viral kitten videos, they had to get creative. This is most likely why cats are one of the most common animals found in ukiyo-e, a style of Japanese woodblock printing that was popular during the Edo period (1603-1868), and are often shown in peculiar or amusing situations.
|At the door: ¥1,200|
|At the door: ¥800|
Hibiya Spring Oktoberfest — last chance!
Outdoor drinking, German-style eats, and lively music — Oktoberfest is back in town! For 10 days, you and your boozehound friends can hit up Hibiya Park to try various local and German beers. The admission fee includes an original drinking glass that you can take home.
|At the door: ¥500|
Accidentally Wes Anderson Exhibition — last chance!
For Accidentally Wes Anderson (AWA)’s first public exhibition in Japan, 300 photographs demonstrating the AWA aesthetic are on show. Visitors can go on a trip of their own from country to country reading stories from the photographers and enjoying the perfect compositions of the pictures.