Not sure what to do this evening? Well, you're in the right place now: Tokyo always has plenty of stuff going on, from festivals to concerts and art shows, activities and more. Read on for our pick of the best things to do, and if you're planning further ahead, check out our weekly picks.
The garden terrace at Aoyama's charming Kihachi turns into a miniature beer garden for the first half of summer, with veg-heavy appetisers and grilled meat complementing the all-you-can-drink beers (including Brooklyn Lager), wine and cocktails. Book well in advance and enjoy the heat of the night among the lush greenery of Jingu Gaien – the dinner packages are all inclusive and start at ¥5,500.
Ueno's natsu matsuri kicks off for real with a parade down the area's central street on July 21 (from 5.30pm), while the rest of the event period includes happenings like the picturesque toro nagashi ceremony (July 17, from 7pm), in which paper lanterns are floated on Shinobazu Pond. There will be market stalls in the park throughout the four weeks of the festival selling antiques, potted plants and more, while street performances take place at the Bentendo temple in the afternoon on July 22 and 28. Make sure to also check out Ueno Park's open-air stage, where everyone from idols to jazz veterans will be performing almost every day. And if you're looking for a photo op, come on the afternoon of July 17 (from 2.30pm), when ice sculptors will conjure some (doubtless short-lived) works around the stage.
Providing a more eco-conscious alternative to the average Tokyo mall, Yoyogi Village is bringing back its annual beer garden for summer. Again taking over the faux beach at the complex, this one's themed 'Orangery Garden', so think of a heavenly food menu made from plenty of fruits and herbs provided in the Container Zone and an all-you-can-drink beer and sangria plan in the Village Zone.
Known as a 'love shrine', Kawagoe Hikawa out in Saitama attracts plenty of fed-up singles looking for help in finding the partner of their dreams. This relatively new summer festival is another chance to do just that, as the hot summer night atmosphere and pretty light-ups ensure that love will be in the air. Colourful fuurin (wind chimes) adorn the grounds and the food and drink stalls include a shrine café.
Combine upscale izakaya fare with free-flowing Premium Malts at Yurakucho's Kotsu Kaikan, where the 13th floor turns into this 'Beer Terrace' from June to September. Opt for one of the all-you-can-drink deals (from ¥5,000) for unlimited amounts of the above-mentioned beer, wine, umeshu, shochu and highballs, plus meaty cooking courtesy of the chefs at Tokyo Kaikan. Paired with the gorgeous views towards Marunouchi and live music, this combo looks like it just might be a winner.
Find a pretty wind bell made of glass at this annual festival taking place at Adachi's Nishiarai Daishi temple. Craftspeople from all over the country will be peddling their wares, which exhibit a staggering variety of colours, shapes and sounds – find the perfect one just for you, or simply walk around the area and take in the summery atmosphere. There are taiko drumming performances on every Sunday afternoon during the event period, as well as painting workshops for wind bells.
Arguably Tokyo's best-stocked foreign-language bookstore, Books Kinokuniya are bringing in books by the truckload from their warehouse and selling them at a substantial discount. Think 30-60 percent off on pretty much their entire imported selection, from magazines, science books, travel guides, and design books to English, Chinese, French, German and Italian novels, and more... Some restrictions apply, but there's more than enough to choose from. Happy browsing!
The very classy Marunouchi Hotel moves into the beer garden business for summer, but as you'd expect from this over 90-year-old veteran, it's a somewhat more stylish affair than the boozers found on department store rooftops across town: ¥6,500 will get you an appetiser platter packed with veg, charcuterie, cheese and other small dishes, plus drinks from the more than 30-strong selection that includes beer, beer-based cocktails, sparkling wine, highballs and more. If your wallet doesn't stretch that far, there's also an ¥5,500 plan, which is similar to the above, but with two drinks included. You'll be sitting on the eighth-floor terrace, which is decorated in blue and white and boasts fantastic views over the train tracks of neighbouring Tokyo Station.
Restaurant Jinnanken opens up its rooftop terrace for the summer and this beer garden. Located just a short walk from Shibuya Station, this is a worthy spot for admiring the night-time city while feasting on barbecued food like prime ribs and thickly cut veg. The standard plan includes appetisers, three kinds of meats and all-you-can-drink beer, wine and cocktails.
The much-loved waterpark at Yomiuriland amusement park is making a comeback this summer. Five pools plus three slides will be available for splashers of all sizes, including a huge ‘thriller’ slide, a shallow pool for children and a wave-pool resembling a beach. If all that splashing and sliding weren’t enough, Yomiuriland staff will also be performing water shows and synchronized swimming. Pool entrance ¥3,200, high school and junior high students ¥2,500, younger children ¥2,100. One-day pass (includes unlimited rides at the theme park and pool entrance) ¥6,000/¥4,800/¥4,400. Opening hours vary by the day – see this calendar on the official website for full details.