Free things to do in Tokyo
Want to dive deeper into Japanese culture? This dance workshop is the perfect place to start, where you'll be fitted in a yukata and taught how to dance Nihon buyo, a traditional kind of dance that has a history of nearly 400 years. The workshop is free and takes place at the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center every Sunday, excluding some specific dates during other holidays.
The Printing Museum's P&P Gallery showcases 180 particularly well-designed books from Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Canada and China at this exhibit. The tomes, which stand above the rest based on layout, binding, editing or all of the above, can all be picked up and touched, and include the winners from the prestigious Best Book Design contest at this year's Leipzig Book Fair (held in Germany) plus 50 outstanding entries from past Japan Book Design meets.
This annual celebration of food from across Japan sees four flavour-packed days descend on Hibiya Park. Taste an array of dishes and experience the charms of local Japanese cuisine in a relaxed, outdoors setting right in the centre of Tokyo. Look forward to tasty offerings including kiritanpo nabe (a hotpot featuring grilled rice sticks) from Akita, crab cream croquettes from Hokkaido, and spicy noodles from Miyazaki – many of the items are available for as little as ¥500. There’s also plenty of craft beer to wash it all down, and stalls selling take-home items.
Today’s Gallery Studio in Asakusabashi is hosting a new exhibition showcasing the beauty of ruins. The concept behind the photography feature is to transform these dark, desolate ruins into works of art. The 15 participating photographers visited over 300 ruins throughout Japan, from decaying ballrooms to abandoned schools to hidden temples. Every photograph is hauntingly beautiful, transfixing the viewer. The gallery is also selling merchandise and prints of the exhibition photographs, so you can take these otherworldly glimpses home with you.
The annual ‘Sakura Festa’ will be held again this year in Minato Mirai on Sakura Dori, which stretches from JR Sakuragicho Station to Pacifico Yokohama. 103 cherry blossom trees will be in full bloom over the 500 metre road, making this one of Yokohama's most popular cherry blossom viewing spots. On Saturday, March 30, the Sakura Dori road will be closed so that pedestrians can stroll freely and take part in events such as tug of war and sample food at various gourmet pop-ups.
Before Art Book Fair makes a big comeback for its 10th edition in July, it's starting off with a month-long fringe event in Ginza's Sony Park, starting from March 8. While the former fair is known for bringing together publishers, artists and galleries from all around the world, this Ginza edition will connect you, the audience, directly with the exhibitors.The exhibitor list changes every week save for two constant vendors who will be featured throughout the one-month period. If you’re looking for art-related books, the weekday ‘Art Book Vending Machine’ offers more than 1,000 publications for you to choose from. Zine’s Mate Shop, on the other hand, doesn't only sell art books but also offer workshops on how to create them.
Head to Espace Louis Vuitton for their latest exhibition featuring work by the late Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto. Best known for his kinetic sculptures and large-scale installations, Tokyo will see one of his impressive installations set up at the Louis Vuitton gallery space over the next few months. This installation is quite unique as it encourages guests to interact with it by walking through the space and immersing themselves in both kinetic and optical ways.
Just across the river from the tiny Tennoz Isle, Terrada Warehouse is a massive, multi-use complex with a designated art space. The Terrada Art Complex – as the space is called – will be organising an art festival that leverages the entire island of Tennoz Isle as its exhibition space. The focus of the festival is large-scale public art and murals – the kind that can be found on the sides of the island’s waterfront buildings, plastered all over the Shinagawa Pier waiting room and decorating other public spaces around Tennoz Isle. Participating artists include Yusuke Asai, whose massive, beautiful artworks not only take up entire walls but often occupy entire rooms, with his paintings stretching across wall edges and crawling out across floors. Another name to look out for is the street artist Aryz, whose exploding internet following is rapidly making the mysterious Spanish painter a household name. The core exhibition is open until April 7, but many of the works are expected to be on display until Spring 2020. To help you get started on your art exploration, here's where you can see the artworks: Fureai bridge, Toyoko INN parking lot wall, Sanshin warehouse wall, Terrada Warehouse T33 wall, Higashi-Shinagawa Pier waiting area, Bond Street interior concrete wall, and the Tokyo Monorail Tennoz Isle Station ticket gates.
Celebrate the arrival of spring at Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi. The centrepiece of this annual event, currently in its 12th year, will be the 200m-long cherry blossom-lined avenue through the Garden Area of Tokyo Midtown. It’s especially magical at night when it’s all lit up. You’ll want to make a beeline for the transparent tents parked under the cherry trees – we reckon these will be the hottest seats in Tokyo as they are just perfect for a spot of hanami (picnicking under the cherry blossoms). That’s not all: look forward to special spring-themed sweets created by the skilled chefs of the Ritz-Carlton, as well as sparkling wine tasting at the outdoor Chandon Blossom Lounge. You could even enjoy street performances by young artists competing for the ‘Tokyo Midtown Awards’. For more cherry blossom events, visit here.