The best upcoming events in Tokyo
Shimokitazawa Ichibangai Awa-Odori
Granted, it's a minnow compared to the Koenji Awa-Odori that takes place a week later, but Shimokitazawa's version of the famed dancing-in-the-streets fest (originally from Tokushima) has a unique charm of its own. Held for the 53rd time this year, the Shimokitazawa Awa-Odori sees teams of dancers romp along the neighbourhood's main shopping streets in the evening, then dazzle the assembled hordes with their own special routines later on. Be sure to hang around afterwards, when the area is engulfed in a wave of booze-sodden joie de vivre.
Kiyose Sunflower Festival
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and dive into a sea of yellow at Kiyose Sunflower Festival. Every summer a wheat farm on the outskirts of Tokyo turns into a magnificent sunflower field. The 100,000 sunny blooms here aren’t the only attraction as local farmers will also be selling fresh produce on site. Get ready to flood your Instagram feed with these towering beauties or indulge your inner Van Gogh and take a sketchpad and pencils, but bear in mind that your shoes might not emerge from Kiyose mud-free.
Eco Edo Nihonbashi Art Aquarium
Deploying a range of lighting tricks, projection mapping and traditional Japanese motifs, not to mention thousands of live goldfish, self-proclaimed ‘art aquarium producer' Hidetomo Kimura’s annual exhibition is back again with an eclectic combo of stylised Edo culture and modern-day technology. Go after 7pm for a hot atmosphere, cocktails and DJ tunes courtesy of local stars including Ken Ishii, Kuniyuki Takahashi and Rina (gigs only on weekends). Finally, you'll need to keep in mind that this is usually one of Tokyo's most popular summer happenings – there will be queues.
This summer, 1,500 of the chubby yellow Pokémon will take over Yokohama’s streets for the fifth annual Pikachu Outbreak festival. Pokémaniacs can expect special digital effects in line with this year’s theme of ‘Science is Amazing’. Make sure you stay until after dark for the debut of a night parade where the outrageously cute creatures will sport flashy illuminated costumes. The Pokémon Company will also transform Minatomirai’s inner harbour for the mesmerising ‘Pikachu Parade on the Sea’ show, which utilises the latest digital technology to present a visual storytelling feast – a new Pokémon adventure, surrounded by Yokohama’s picturesque scenery.
Summer Nights at Tama Zoo
What better way to spend a hot summer night than a visit to the zoo? Tama Zoo in western Tokyo is keeping its gates open until late in the evening for ten days in August, allowing you to get a look at the nocturnal activities of the many beasts and birds living there. Some of the animal cages will be lit up for the occasion, while enjoying some food and a cold beer while gazing out over the 'savannah' is also possible.
MOMAT Summer Festival
Summer is a great time to visit a museum, and not only because Tokyo's art and history centres are always particularly well air-conditioned. Most museums put on special programmes throughout the steamy season, celebrating summer with everything from free guided tours to beer gardens. One of the most active merrymakers is Takebashi's National Museum of Modern Art, which puts on an artsy festival until mid September. It includes tours for both kids and adults, special workshops related to the ongoing exhibitions, and a weekends-only food truck zone where you can pick up some beer, wine and snacks to be enjoyed on the museum lawn. Details for the festival events will be announced later on the official website.