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Things to do in Tokyo this weekend

Time Out Tokyo's editors pick the top parties, festivals, concerts, food events and more this weekend in the big city

Got no plans for the weekend? You'll be struggling for a free hour once you've checked out all our recommendations for the best things to do in Tokyo over Saturday and Sunday.

What's on this weekend?

Start celebrating Golden Week

It's time to get excited – the spring holiday season is finally here. In Tokyo, Golden Week always offers a bonanza of great things to do, from food festivals and traditional matsuri to the Rainbow Pride parade, outdoor music festivals and unmissable art shows, while there's plenty going on just outside of the city as well. So forget about that package tour to Hawaii (or bus trip to Atami) and make the most of Golden Week in Tokyo – just be sure to take May 1 and 2 off for the full nine-day holiday experience.

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By: Time Out Tokyo Editors

Ramen Girls Festival

Once upon a time, most ladies wouldn't be caught dead in a ramen shop, smartly staying away from the greasy smell, artery-clogging grub and ultra-masculine atmosphere. Luckily enough, those days are long gone, and this festival in Nakano's Shiki no Mori Park celebrates the fact over Golden Week. In addition to slurping up delicious noodles served by the likes of Chiba's Fukutake, Yanaka's Menya Yoshi and Harajuku's Noodle Stand Tokyo, visitors can participate in the ramen rally by collecting different kind of stickers. Oh, and before you ask: men are allowed to come inside, too.

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Nakano Shiki no Mori Park , Nakano Until Sunday May 6 2018
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Hibiya Festival

Get off the train at Hibiya Station, Tokyo’s art and entertainment district, and join the vicinity to celebrate its first theatre-themed festival. The main event takes place at the recently opened Tokyo Midtown Hibiya, an outlet of Roppongi’s Tokyo Midtown.   Don’t miss the opening ceremony on April 26 (7pm-7.30pm) produced by internationally renowned theatre director Amon Miyamoto. The 30-min long show is packed with dances and songs performed by 50 different artists, who tell a story of a girl who dreams about luxurious balls at the Rokumeikan, an accommodation housing foreign guests during the Meiji period (1868-1912). The girl, named ‘Flora’, is a giant 4-m tall doll designed by Kenji Yanobe in collaboration with Harajuku-pioneer Sebastian Masuda, and will be awakened during the show. Besides the ceremony, you'll find short theater plays, dance performances, musicals and operas during the event for free around Hibiya Step Hiroba, and for a boozy kick, the ‘Johnnie & Highball Hibiya Garden’ provides alcoholic refreshments made from popular scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker. Check the official website for event schedules.

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Tokyo Midtown Hibiya , Hibiya Until Sunday May 20 2018

Koenji Bikkuri Daidogei

Sure, they pinched the idea from Sangenjaya's long-running Sancha de Daidogei, but this street performance festival is still heaps of fun. Held to mark the opening of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre in 2009, the Bikkuri Daidogei has since become an annual affair. For two days during Golden Week, acrobats, musicians, comedians and costumed weirdos ply the streets of the neighbourhood, dispensing free, family-friendly entertainment to all and sundry.

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Za-Koenji Public Theatre , Koenji Saturday April 28 2018 - Sunday April 29 2018
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Zushi Beach Film Festival

How about enjoying a quality indie flick while the last rays of the sun are still visible on the horizon? Head down south for ten days of movies on the beach, complemented by gigs, workshops, a bazaar, yoga and spontaneous parties. Things kick off on April 27 with a screening of In This Corner of the World (Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni), while April 30 is Sports Day and May 5 sees a programme of skateboard films. Fans of the indie flick Amelie should head down on April 29. The full schedule can be checked out here.

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Zushi Beach , Zushi Until Sunday May 6 2018

Tomoo Gokita: Peekaboo

Known for his works which use collage-like techniques, Tomoo Gokita has been making waves at both the national and international level, with exhibitions at Tokyo's Taka Ishii Gallery and New York's Mary Boone Gallery in recent years. At this latest Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery number, the focus is on his new paintings and drawings, all made since the year 2000. The most typically Gokita-esque work here might just be the large-scale installation, which incorporates over 800 small drawings.

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Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery , Hatsudai Until Sunday June 24 2018
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Fuji Shibazakura Festival

Great views of majestic Mount Fuji and seemingly endless fields of shibazakura ('pink moss') – it's no wonder that this annual spring festival out at Lake Motosu in Yamanashi attracts hordes of Tokyoites over Golden Week. In addition to strolling around the immense flowery growth, you can buy your own shibazakura pot to take home or bite into a wide range of local delicacies.

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Fuji Motosuko Resort Until Sunday May 27 2018

African American Carribean Grand Prix Beauty Contest & Food Festa

A celebration of African-American and Carribean cultures (and their axis), this week-long festival is set to take over Kabukicho's Cine City Plaza over Golden Week. Think live (dance) performances, fashion shows, samba, coffee stands, hair braiding sessions, and of course, lots and lots of food. To top it all off, Miss & Mister African-American-Caribbean will be crowned here too. 

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Kabukicho Cine City Plaza , Shinjuku Saturday April 28 2018 - Sunday May 6 2018
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Hello World – For the Post-Human Age

It's worth making the trek up to Ibaraki for this exhibition which contemplates the future of our information-based society. Eight pairs of international and domestic artists take an astute look at modern-day society including the penetration of the internet and new technological advancements such as artificial intelligence. Expect works from the likes of Hito Steyerl, known for their critically-acclaimed pieces which incorporate a wealth of media theory and image history, and the artist unit Exonemo, the brainchild of Yae Akaiwa and Kensuke Sembo.

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Midtown Open the Park

Tokyo Midtown's annual serving of outdoor fun for Golden Week and the wider month of May centres on the complex's spacious lawn, where yoga classes are held and massive koinobori decorations for Children's Day flutter in the spring breeze. The free yoga sessions take place in the mornings (8.30am-9.30am, 10.30am-11.30am) on April 21, 22, and May 12, 13, 19 & 20, and evenings (6.30pm-7.30pm, 8.30pm-9.30pm) on April 24 and 25, plus May 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 & 23.

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Tokyo Midtown , Roppongi Until Sunday May 27 2018
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Five of our favourite free events

Midtown Open the Park

Tokyo Midtown's annual serving of outdoor fun for Golden Week and the wider month of May centres on the complex's spacious lawn, where yoga classes are held and massive koinobori decorations for Children's Day flutter in the spring breeze. The free yoga sessions take place in the mornings (8.30am-9.30am, 10.30am-11.30am) on April 21, 22, and May 12, 13, 19 & 20, and evenings (6.30pm-7.30pm, 8.30pm-9.30pm) on April 24 and 25, plus May 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 & 23.

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Tokyo Midtown , Roppongi Until Sunday May 27 2018

Koinobori Now! Installation by Reiko Sudo, Adrien Gardère and Seiichi Saito

Traditionally strung up for Children's Day on May 5, the carp-shaped streamers known as koinobori are quite the sight to behold. The National Art Center Tokyo is joining in on the fun with lots of koi streamers, designed by eminent Japanese textile designer Reiko Sudo, happily floating around the exhibition rooms. The installation, which has also toured the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and Paris' Guimet Museum, is a collaborative work with French exhibition designer Adrien Gardère. For this incarnation, Sudo has teamed up with noted Rhizomatiks member Seiichi Saito, while the public can get a proper feeling for the entire thing at the hands-on experience corner set up for the event. 

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The National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT) , Nogizaka Until Monday May 28 2018
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Odaiba Hawaii Festival

Odaiba's annual tribute to the Aloha State returns to VenusFort under the theme 'Mahalo'. The festival will see a packed lineup of artists performing Hawaiian music, while the popular hula and Tahitian dance performances will also be making a comeback. Shoppers will want to check out the Hawaiian market and food stall lineup, while those looking for a more educational experience can take part in one of the ukulele workshops. If your idea of a 'tropical' day in Tokyo involves strolling around a shopping mall with a Kona beer and some garlic shrimp in hand, this party will tick all the boxes.

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VenusFort , Odaiba Saturday April 28 2018 - Sunday May 6 2018

Tracing the Colors

Known for her vibrant use of colour and flowing style, artist Manika Nagare is taking over the Atrium Gallery inside Hakone's Pola Museum as part of its 15th anniversary 'Hiraku Project' programme. Using some well-known classics which are exhibited at the museum, such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir's 'Nude in the Water', Vincent van Gogh's 'Clumps of Grass' and Claude Monet's 'Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas', Nagare has interpreted and reimagined the Impressionists's use of colour in her own, original works.  

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Pola Museum of Art , Hakone Until Sunday May 13 2018
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Koinobori at Tokyo Tower

Now an annual sight at Tokyo Tower, the colourful Children's Day carp streamers will be set up in front of the main entrance again from early April. In addition to 333 koinobori, which of course signify the height of our beloved Eiffel Tower replica, the decorations include a 6m sanma-nobori – this one both a reminder of September's Tokyo Tower Sanma Matsuri and of the ongoing recovery efforts in Tohoku's Sanriku region, a major producer of Pacific saury (sanma). Between 5pm and 11pm, the koinobori will be lit up with 10 different LED searchlights too; pop by both during the day and night (or close to sundown) to experience the tower in two very distinct ways. 

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Tokyo Tower , Shiba-Koen Until Sunday May 6 2018

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