Top events in Tokyo right now
Shinagawa Yaki-imo Terrace
Sure, snuggling up with a blanket and a roasted sweet potato in hand is super comfy, but the real way forward is to enjoy this Tokyo winter staple in the outdoors, served steaming hot from a cart – and this week-long event in Shinagawa lets you do exactly that. The size of the festival area is huge, so there will be plenty of stands covering sweet-potato types you wouldn’t usually be able to eat in Tokyo, plus all sort of other yaki-imo-flavoured snacks and drinks. Taste a bunch to find your favourite, but keep in mind to arrive early – most stalls only operate until they sell out.
Hyakudan Hina Matsuri
The Meguro Gajoen throws open its Hyakudan Kaidan – a series of seven extravagantly decorated rooms, linked by a 99-step staircase, that's usually closed to the general public – for Tokyo's fanciest display of historic Hina Matsuri dolls. Now into its 11th year, the latest Hyakudan Hina Matsuri focuses on exquisitely crafted dolls from Inaba (Tottori), Izumo (Shimane) and Hagi (Yamaguchi). The highlights include a two-metre tall hina doll decoration from Yonago (Tottori), and a zashiki-bina, a display featuring over 500 dolls. You can also compare hina dolls of different eras, ranging from the Edo (1603-1868) to the Reiwa period (from 2019).
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Best wine bars in Tokyo – natural wines included
Sake may be Japan’s national drink but the country is equally famed for its whisky and beer. However, in recent years, wine production and consumption in the country are gaining momentum as well. Yamanashi, Nagano, Hokkaido, Yamagata and Niigata are Japan’s preeminent producers of wine. Little do people know that grapes have been cultivated in Japan since the 8th century but it wasn't until the 1870s that they were turned into wine with the first brewery set up in Japan. About a hundred years later, production started to take off as Japanese brewers went to study in Europe and brought back the technical know-how to improve local grape breeds and brewing methods. Keep a lookout for Japan’s indigenous koshu grape, which has been garnering attention both domestically and internationally for its crispness, acidity and delicate taste. Another popular Japanese varietal is the red grape Muscat Bailey A; it typically creates light and fruity wines that are low in tannins and acidity. Additionally, the natural wine movement that is showing an upward trend around the world has hit Tokyo, too. And in case you’re wondering what exactly makes a wine ‘natural’, it’s when the wine is produced with minimal intervention – nothing added, nothing removed. No chemicals or artificial fertilisers are used on the vines nor is there any manipulation of flavour or additives used in the winemaking process. So whether you’re after a stylish standing bar, cellar-door hideout, homely hole-in-the-wall