1. Spring Rose Festival
    Photo: Tokyo Metropolitan Park AssociationSpring Rose Festival
  2. Sanja Matsuri
    Photo: Julie Fader/UnsplashSanja Matsuri

Things to do in Tokyo this weekend

The Time Out Tokyo editors pick the best events and exhibitions in the city this weekend

Advertising

Need to make some weekend plans? We're all anxious to get out and about, and the good news is that events in Tokyo have finally started to pick up again. We've compiled a list of the best events, exhibitions and places to check out in the capital on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Just remember to check the event and venue websites for the latest updates.

Note: venue opening hours and capacity limits may change depending on current Covid-19 situation.

Our top picks this weekend

  • Things to do
  • Oshiage

Skytree Town is celebrating its tenth anniversary on May 22, lighting up Tokyo Skytree in blue and yellow from 7.30pm until midnight to represent the tower’s mascot, Sorakara-chan. 

The main celebrations will be held at the Sky Arena plaza, located at the foot of the 634m tower, and will feature an opening speech by famous kabuki actor Ebizo Ichikawa XI. At 11.30am, Ichikawa will be performing the Nigiri, a traditional dance that can only be performed by members of the Naritaya family, at the top floor of Tokyo Skytree. You don’t need to get up there to see it, though – it will also be broadcast live on a big screen at the plaza. 

After the performance, a lucky 634 visitors will receive an exclusive tenth anniversary coaster handmade by local leather craftsmen. To receive the coaster, you must get a ticket which will be distributed from 9am. The entire event is free, but you’ll want to get there early to secure a spot. 

A special train with a logo for the tenth anniversary will also run between Asakusa and Tokyo Skytree stations for one day only. This four-carriage train will run eight times to and from both stations between 1.26pm and 5.18pm.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Asakusa

Tokyo's biggest and best traditional festival is back after a two- year hiatus. First held back in 1312, the event celebrates the three men who founded Asakusa's Sensoji Temple, and in pre-Covid times would draw over a million visitors to the neighbourhood over the course of three days. Though there'll be processions and traditional dance performances throughout the weekend, the highlight of the festival comes on the Sunday, when three enormous mikoshi (portable shrines) are shuttled through the streets of Asakusa, with local residents taking turns – and often fighting each other for the chance – to carry them.

Do note that a slice of Japan that usually isn't that visible to visitors is in full view here. The festival is partially known (abroad) for the number of yakuza who attend and participate – if you see a bunch of very heavily tattooed, often shirtless Japanese men and women, try to not piss them off, and be sure to ask politely if you want to take photos. Generally speaking though, they're there to show off their strength – plus their tattoos – and thus seem to like the attention they get. 

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Komagome

Kyu Furukawa Gardens in Tokyo’s Kita Ward is known for its colourful roses that start to bloom in May and this festival is your best chance to enjoy them all. The Western-style garden located on the upper grounds is adorned with 200 roses of 100 different varieties. In addition to your vivid red and pink blossoms, you’ll get to see pastel-coloured ones including Blue Moon, Vanilla Perfume and Eglantine roses, too.

Come here on May 28 and 29 to see a musical performance by a saxophone quartet, and make sure to vote for your favourite flower at the ballot box in front of the service centre before you leave.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Ebisu

Get ready for some tropical vibes at this year’s Aloha Tokyo Festival. This Hawaiian festival brings together a colourful array of entertainment, food and drinks from May 20 to 22. You can expect a non-stop live entertainment program filled with Hawaiian pop singers, folk music, groove bands and ukelele players.

There will be around 60 stalls selling Hawaiian fashion – think tropical-print dresses, bathing suits, sarong and t-shirts – plus tote bags, jewellery and homeware. The food offerings, on the other hand, will keep you well sated with fresh salads, spam musubi, loco moco and rainbow-coloured drinks. If you’re pining for some Hawaiian holiday but stuck in Tokyo, this is the next best thing.

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Ueno

Visit Ueno Park for this two-day food fair serving Southeast Asian cuisine. Enjoy local specialities and drinks from Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. There’s also a corner to introduce the region’s performing arts. While you’re there, explore the rest of Ueno Park with our guide.

The festival takes place from 10am-9pm on both days. For more information, check the event website.

  • Things to do
  • Food and drink events

As the weather warms up, bars, hotels and even department stores in Tokyo are opening their roofs and terraces to the public – and with this, the beer garden season officially begins. As we say every year, it just wouldn't be summer without an evening spent idly sipping frosty pints or cool cocktails out in the open air.

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Food and drink events

Looking to enjoy signature Japanese dishes and flavours all in one place? You’ll be spoilt for choice at the Tokyo Tokyo Delicious Museum, a brand new food festival taking place over three days from May 20 until May 22 in Ariake.

This extensive food fair features some of the city’s most popular eateries, serving up a sumptuous spread of local and international cuisines. Most importantly, the festival will bring together five of Tokyo’s Michelin-rated restaurants – so you get to taste their amazing food all in one place at a much more affordable price.

Paid content
  • Sport and fitness
  • Sport & Fitness

Elevate yourself – literally and figuratively – with this special limited-time yoga programme held at Shibuya Sky, the rooftop observation area of Shibuya Scramble Square. Starting this weekend, Ignite Yoga will be hosting open-air yoga sessions every Saturday and Sunday until June 5, so you’ll be able to catch some unparalleled views of the Tokyo skyline while getting in a workout.

Advertising
  • Art
  • Art

This is it – teamLab Borderless will be closing its Odaiba museum for good at the end of August, which means we’ll get one more chance to catch the spring-themed exhibition at the facility before it disappears. And while we know that the digital art exhibit will reopen in central Tokyo sometime in 2023, there’s no guarantee that it will come before spring of that year.

Highlights include the special spring scenery in ‘Memory of Topography’, which can also transform into yellow canola fields and purple wisteria gardens, as well as in 'Flowers in Layered Ultrasubjective Space', where projections of daffodils sway as you walk through the space.

  • Things to do
  • Food and drink events
  • Saitama

Enjoy a hygge-themed barbecue at the Hanno Riverbank, located only an hour away from central Tokyo. All equipment will be provided – just bring a big appetite and your favourite food to cook on the grill. The campsite will set up the  tables, chairs, tarp tents, benches and barbecue grills along with utensils, bowls, plates and even a trash bag for ¥6,400 per party of up to four people. Dogs are welcome, too, for an additional ¥800.

You can make a reservation for 10am or 2pm; each slot allows you to stay up to three hours. There are only 10 spots available daily, so reservations must be made in advance online.

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Roppongi

The interactive Avengers exhibition has been touring worldwide since 2014 and it’s now in Tokyo until June 19. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe can immerse themselves in the movies and visit a secret training facility to see where Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and other superheroes came to be.

As this is the world’s first Marvel exhibition, you can expect to see original costumes and props up close. More importantly, the exhibition is designed to make you feel like you're going through a training. You'll learn the backstories of each Avenger, get hands-on with replicas of props and costumes, and do a lot of cool superhero things.

You can also purchase exclusive goods that are only available at the exhibition. Tickets must be purchased in advance via the website.

Midtown Open the Park
  • Things to do
  • Roppongi

A popular shopping mall in the city centre, Tokyo Midtown is hosting a series of family- friendly activities from late-April. Between April 23 and May 29, the outdoor lawn will transform into a playground with sections themed after the five elements of nature: earth, water, fire, air and space. 

The Midtown Garden, on the other hand, will feature plenty of outdoor seating for the public to lounge around. Taking place from May 7 to 29, this pop-up park will be lit up with iridescent lights after dark, making it look like fireflies are floating amongst the trees. The area will also be adorned with koinobori carp streamers designed by local artists and designers for Children’s Day, plus a free exhibition of unique and colourful picnic mats designed by 46 artists.

From April 29 to May 8, you should also visit the mall's One Aloha Festival for live hula performances and stalls selling Hawaiian fashion, accessories and food.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Drinking

The Shibuya Sky observation deck boasts 360-degree views of the city from a jaw-dropping 230 metres above ground, and you can see all of Tokyo’s major landmarks including Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree and even Mt Fuji on a clear day. It also boasts a stunning rooftop bar that's just reopened.

The rooftop bar and lounge, known simply as The Roof, will be open for a limited time until January 9 2023. Guests can order snacks and drinks including beer, wine, cocktails and mocktails. The bar is open from 4pm until 10pm every evening (from 5pm only in August), giving guests a chance to catch the sunset as well as Tokyo’s stunning skyline at night.

  • Things to do
  • Roppongi

Sports apparel brand Goldwin has temporarily transformed the lawn at Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi into a children’s playground until May 29. You’ll find 13 different attractions, each based on one of the five classical elements: earth, water, fire, air and aether (or space). From inflatable mazes to trampolines and water features, there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied and stimulate their imaginations.

All the play equipment has been made in collaboration with architects and brands including The North Face and Helly Hansen. Play Earth Park is open from 11am to 6pm daily and there will also be eco-friendly workshops where kids can have fun turning an old shoebox into little knick-knacks, and more. 

Advertising
  • Shopping
  • Shibuya

Now open at Miyashita Park is Gucci's experiential pop-up dedicated to the designer label's Love Parade collection. Another vision of creative director Alessandro Michele, Love Parade is inspired by ‘old Hollywood glamour’, with feathery gowns, satin suits and cowboy hats. 

The event – which includes a Gucci café – spans three separate spaces within the Miyashita Park complex, where visitors can get an up close look at the outfits donned by Macaulay Culkin, Billie Eilish and Gwnyneth Paltrow at the launch of Gucci Love Parade last autumn. 

The pop-up is free and will be available through to May 31, but you must make a reservation before visiting. Book via the Line app by adding Gucci as a friend, opening the chat screen and tapping on the Love Parade banner.

  • Things to do

Head up to Ibaraki's Hitachi Seaside Park from mid-April to early May and see a whopping 5.3 million 'baby blue eyes' – also known as nemophila – flowers in full bloom. The hilly grounds span 3.5 hectares and are almost completely covered with the little blue blossoms, making for a pretty spectacular sight.

The blooms are usually at their best from mid- to late April, but they are still a magnificent sight if you catch them a bit earlier or even right after peak bloom. According to this year's forecast, the flowers will be in their full glory between April 22 to 30.

Along with the flowers, the park has gone all-out with blue food and drink for you to enjoy during your visit. Sample blue ramune-soda-flavoured soft cream served with nemophila-shaped cookies, pretty blue lemonade, lattes, and even a blue-tinged curry. While you're at it, pick up a few souvenirs to take home with you including nemophila lollipops, tea bags, cookies and even blue-coloured soap featuring the flower of the season. 

The park is also home to various other spring flowers including daffodils and tulips which also bloom between April and May.

Advertising
  • Art
  • Waseda

After a brief hiatus, the Yayoi Kusama Museum has reopened, and with it comes an exhibition of the artist's new and recent works which have never been displayed in Japan, or anywhere else in the world for that matter.

This showcase consists of a diverse range of Kusama's works that are reminiscent of surrealism, including several pieces she created at the beginning of her career. Highlights include the artist's rarely seen Nihonga (Japanese-style paintings) art, as well as her immersive room titled 'I'm Here, but Nothing'. 

Through her work, Kusama is able to share her innermost perceptions of the universe and the world around her, which in turn makes viewers more aware of the immensity of the universe around them and the vastness of the unknown.

Note that tickets are not available at the door. Timed tickets are only available on the museum website (¥1,100 adults, ¥600 children 6-18). 

  • Art
  • Roppongi

Art collective Chim↑Pom is set to celebrate its 17th anniversary through this retrospective showcase with major works from the group’s early years alongside new pieces created specifically for this exhibition at Mori Art Museum. The eclectic works explore heavy-hitting themes like consumerism, nuclear weapons, earthquakes, media, publicity and poverty, while the series maintains a sense of wit and humor. 

Because the exhibition takes place in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the title ‘Happy Spring’ was selected to help create a sense of optimism for the future.

 

Advertising
  • Art
  • Nogizaka

A series of cherry blossom paintings might not be what you expected from a man who’s famous for dissected sharks and taxidermied animal sculptures, but here we are! To coincide with the upcoming sakura season, The National Art Center, Tokyo will be exhibiting a number of paintings from Damien Hirst’s latest ‘Cherry Blossoms’ series. 

Often described as the enfant terrible of the art world, Hirst has a penchant for breaking rules, creating installations that prompt visceral reactions from art lovers. These characteristics are also apparent in his grandiose, abstract depictions of sakura, which have a splash of Jackson Pollock’s influence in them. 

The series, which comprises 107 pieces in total, took three years to paint and was finally completed in November 2020. The largest canvasses are 7m long and 5m tall. This show marks Hirst's first major solo exhibition in Japan. Bold, chaotic and mesmerising in equal measure, this collection of paintings from the series, personally selected for the exhibition by Hirst, is a playful exploration of life, death and beauty. 

  • Attractions
  • Garden centres and nurseries
  • Chiba

The 10,000 roses at Keisei Rose Garden in Chiba are expected to bloom this spring. You’ll come across 1,600 types of red, white, pink, orange, yellow and purple roses all over the park, making you feel like you’ve stepped inside a fairytale. Highlights at the event include a three-person merry-go-round (¥700 per ride) in the massive greenhouse, which spins around a tree trunk adorned with green leaves, colourful flowers and ornaments. The attraction will feature bubbles and emit rose fragrance to amplify the mood and experience

On the other side of the greenhouse you’ll find a six metre-wide installation made in collaboration with Nihon Akari Expo and art collective Mirrorbowler. This 2.4 metre-tall egg-shaped sculpture features a rose-inspired object in the centre, surrounded by a dome made from iridescent flower-shaped panels.

On weekends and holidays, you can join in a garden tea party with Japanese voice and stage actors from Himawari Theatre Group and Ken Production. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon with cakes and your choice of rose tea or coffee while mingling with the abovementioned personalities for ¥2,500. Reservations must be made in advance via the website.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising