Things to do in Tokyo this week

This week’s hottest events, gigs, films, festivals and more
Citizen
By Time Out Tokyo Editors
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When you're spending time in a city as big as Tokyo, it's never too early to start planning for the week ahead. You can pack a lot of living into seven days, whether you're someone who likes to spend an afternoon at the museum or prefers to stay out late clubbing. We've sifted through hundreds of listings to weed out a handful of the week's best events, gigs, festivals and things to do.

Looking for more? Check out our list of the best things to do in Tokyo.

Best things to do this week

Sengakuji
Photo: Cowardlion/Dreamstime
Things to do, Festivals

47 Ronin Festival

icon-location-pin Sengaku-ji Temple, Takanawa
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The ancient legend begins in 1701 when the daimyo (feudal lord) Asano was provoked into attacking Kira Yoshihisa in the shogun’s castle. Using a weapon in the castle was an act punishable by death, so Asano consequently was required to commit ritual suicide, rendering his 47 loyal samurai master-less warriors, aka ronin. Two years later, on December 14 1702, the ronin would get their revenge, killing and beheading Kira and bringing his severed head along a 10-km trek to Sengakuji Temple. This Friday, the dramatic ronin revenge story is commemorated at the temple which is also the gravesite of the 47 ronin. The ceremony isn’t one of pomp and circumstance; it’s a pretty somber affair, with a graveside ceremony kicking things off at 11am. After that, the re-enactors and temple priests will parade out of the temple ‘in quest of Kira’ and return to the temple later for a memorial service (now laden with ‘Kira’s head’ in a cloth bag). There will also be food stalls lined up on the road leading out of the temple for you to munch away the time while the ronin and priests are out on their 'manhunt'.

Things to do

One Love, Wine Love

icon-location-pin United Nations University Farmers' Market, Aoyama
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The title of this twice-yearly wine festival plays on the lyrics of a classic Bob Marley tune and keeps to the same sentiment: ‘Let’s get together and feel alright.’ And with over 180 wines on offer from Japan and around the world – coupled with live music and outdoor food vendors at the UNU Farmers Market – it promises to deliver...

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SantaCon
Photo: fb.com/SantaconTokyo
Things to do, Quirky events

Tokyo SantaCon

icon-location-pin Shimbashi Station, Shinbashi
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The holiday tradition of SantaCon started a couple of decades ago in San Francisco and quickly spread internationally. Participants don Santa cosplay and basically parade through the streets in a loosely-organized massive pub crawl. Or, as the Tokyo SantaCon organizers put it: ‘Santacon is a non-denominational, non-commercial, non-political and nonsensical Santa Claus convention that occurs once a year for absolutely no reason.’

Things to do

Bungu Joshi Haku stationery festival

icon-location-pin Tokyo Ryutsu Center, Heiwajima
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Japan is famous for its gorgeous, inventive stationery, from delicate letter-writing paper to erasable highlighters to rolls of masking tape that look like designer candles. The Bungu Joshi Haku is the biggest stationery fair in Japan, with over 50 manufacturers and brands participating, plus workshops and more. With more than 50,000 different products on offer, including original goods exclusive to the festival, this event should be a great place to pick up some elegant little holiday gifts...

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Art

The 100th Anniversary Exhibition of Citizen ‘We Celebrate Time’

icon-location-pin Spiral Garden, Aoyama
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In celebration of its 100th anniversary, watch manufacturer Citizen has put on a special and very Instagram-worthy exhibition titled ‘We Celebrate Time’ until December 16. Local starchitect Tsuyoshi Tane is the brain behind the show; he's also featured in the ongoing exhibition Archaeology of the Future. The highlight of this exhibition, which focuses on the themes of time and light, is undoubtedly the space which is filled with 72,000 golden movements of wristwatches...

Christmas Art Market
Photo: FB.com/DesignFestaGallery
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Christmas Art Market

icon-location-pin Design Festa Gallery Harajuku, Harajuku
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If you’re just starting to get a move on with your Christmas shopping, this market is a good place to start. The Design Festa Gallery in Harajuku is putting on a one-day pop-up fair featuring 12 local artists selling artful, unusual (and affordable) little gifts. There will also be snacks and mulled wine to sip on as you shop.

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Shopping

Stock Room: ICCA Japanese Furniture Pop-up Store

icon-location-pin OPRCT, Yoyogi-Uehara
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In search of some classic Japanese-style furniture items for your Tokyo apartment? Get your small drawers, tables, chairs and more at the two-day pop-up store ‘Stock Room’ by antique furniture brand Icca in Yoyogi Uehara. Icca, written as 'one flower' in Japanese, focuses on themes of family and contemporary Japanese designs and hence stocks products which the whole family can enjoy together. Most of these items were originally manufactured in the Meiji- and early Showa period – around the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century. Icca transforms these long-forgotten pieces into beautiful items matching our current modern interior designs.

Masaya Yoshimura
Art

MINGEI – Another Kind of Art

icon-location-pin 21_21 Design Sight, Roppongi
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Mingei literally means ‘arts of the people’ and it refers to handcrafted objects produced by local craftsmen for everyday use. The term was established in 1925 by Soetsu Yanagi (1889 – 1961) who defined the art of mingei as ‘natural, sincere, safe and simple’. This exhibition at 21_21 Design Sight, titled ‘MINGEI - Another Kind of Art’, is directed by product designer Naoto Fukasawa. On display are 146 traditional and contemporary mingei items from The Japan Folk Crafts Museum's collection, handpicked by Fukasawa, along with his personal collection and photographs revealing new forms of mingei. This exhibition covers a highly associative exploration of the legacy of mingei that began to flourish the 1920s.

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Hanakawado Shoe Market
Photo: fb.com/hakidaore8989
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Hanakawado Shoe Market

icon-location-pin Hanakawado Park, Asakusa
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This market in the wholesale district of Hanakawado is not just about shoes, despite the name. The two-day fair brings together 40 different handbag, accessory, leather goods, and yes, shoe retailers, where the goods are all sold at severe discounts. And if the shoe bargains aren’t enough for you, there’s also a raffle.

Naiku, 1953; Jean-Baptiste Louis Gros, view of the Cathedral of Bogota, 1842
Art

Architecture x Photography: A Light Existing Only Here

icon-location-pin Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Ebisu
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The symbiotic relationship between photography and architecture began in 1827, when French inventor Joseph Nicephore Niepce (1765-1833) took the first ever photograph of a corner of a building through a window. Niépce was searching for ways to produce images, and thus set up a device called a camera obscura, which captured and projected scenes illuminated by sunlight. The result he got was a blurred image of a building, but from then on, a new medium was born and the link was created – photography has since been used to document old and new structures as well as cityscapes. Taken mostly from the museum’s collection, this exhibition will feature architectural stills by local and international photographers. The works on display include works from the late 1820s to newer works by contemporary photographers. Here you will discover and experience architecture from the photographer’s perspective.

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The Phillips Collection: A Modern Vision
‘The Road Menders’, 1889, Vincent van Gogh. Oil on canvas. The Phillips Collection
Art

The Phillips Collection: A Modern Vision

icon-location-pin Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo, Marunouchi
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The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. is one of the world’s most distinguished collections of impressionist and modern American and European art. Founded by art collector Duncan Phillips in 1921, the modern art museum has been collaborating with institutions and foundations around the world to share its impressive collection. This year (2018), The Phillips Collection turns 100 years old, and to celebrate this centennial milestone, Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum is hosting an exhibition with approximately 75 pieces of the Collection’s most treasured artworks. Among the highlights are all-time favourites by Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh.

Things to do

Shibuya Ao no Dokutsu

icon-location-pin Yoyogi Park, Harajuku
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Dubbed Ao no Dokutsu ('Blue Cavern'), this illumination show was a huge hit when it first took place along the Meguro River back in 2014. Brought back to Shibuya last year, it will again engulf the backstreets of Shibuya in a mysterious glow until New Year's Eve. Set up along a 800m stretch covering Koen-dori all the way to Yoyogi Park, thousands of blue LEDs reflect off the ground to create an immersive light-up experience.

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Art

Museum of Bad Art

icon-location-pin Gallery AaMo, Suidobashi
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Gallery AaMo in Tokyo Dome City is setting up a very strange exhibition this year: the Museum of Bad Art. No, this isn't a collection of kindergarten finger-painting, but a serious (okay, not that serious) collection of the 'very best bad art' – art that's 'too bad to be ignored.' This special exhibit comes from a collection at the Museum of Bad Art in Boston where their tag line is 'The world's only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms'. Each piece is the collection has a weird charm to it – obviously bad but totally engaging, forcing the viewer's attention as they try to work out why this work is so bad. For some it's the subject, for others it's the drawing style. You really just have to see it to understand. Prepare to be amazed that a museum devoted to the exclusive purveyance of crappy art could be so delightful and engrossing.

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TOKYOGRAPHY
T.RIKITAKE
Art, Photography

TOKYOGRAPHIE

icon-location-pin Fujifilm Square, Roppongi
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KYOTOGRAPHIE is a highly-acclaimed international photography festival held annually in Kyoto and for the first time, it’s organising an offshoot event in Tokyo. For this special Tokyo edition, the most popular works from KYOTOGRAPHIE 2018 (the sixth year of the festival) will be exhibited in Tokyo.  Expect sensational works by the late Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase who’s widely known for images depicting his domestic married life; celebrated French graphic designer-photographer Jean-Paul Goude; and contemporary Chinese photographer Liu Colin, who incorporates camouflage tricks into his arresting visuals. Catch the exhibitions at multiple locations, such as Fuji Film Square, Chanel Nexus Hall, and the Institut français du Japon.

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Rubens and the Birth of the Baroque
Photo: fb.com/rubensten2018
Art

Rubens and the Birth of the Baroque

icon-location-pin The National Museum of Western Art, Ueno
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Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) is widely known for his dramatic, highly charged paintings featuring Christian history and allegorical subjects. His unique style showcases a masterful handling of movement, colour and sensuality, and it has come to define the 17th century Baroque period in European art. You can get an up close look at his famous pieces at this exhibition, which brings together one of the largest displays of his works. There’s a particular focus on his relationship with Italy, where he lived intermittently for about eight years. And to add context, you’ll also find a selection of works by Italian artists of the same era.

Things to do

Hotel Chinzanso Autumn Garden Lightup

icon-location-pin Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, Mejirodai
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The opulent Hotel Chinzanso in Mejiro opens up its gorgeously decorated garden during the autumn leaves season, lighting up the lush grounds at night to produce one of the city's most beautiful foliage shows. Head over a little bit later in the evening if you want to escape the crowds – the garden stays open until 10pm.

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Things to do

Raien Sumo Experience

icon-location-pin Subaru Comprehensive Sports Centre, Mitaka
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Ever fancied yourself a sumo wrestler? You can try Japan's national sport for yourself at this tourist-friendly ʻdohyoʼ (ring) in Mitaka, where sumo newbies are taught the basic tricks of the trade – and with no fake sumo suit in sight. What's more, women are actually allowed in the ring here, contrary to professional sumo traditions. Equipment rental is included in the ¥9,500 fee (¥4,800 for children under 16), and all participants receive a short video of their efforts plus a card with a sumo-style handprint.

Art, Painting

Munch Exhibition

icon-location-pin Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Ueno
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This retrospective exhibition celebrates the work of iconic Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, most famous for his masterpiece ‘The Scream’. Munch's work was heavily influenced by Impressionists the likes of Claude Monet and Edouard Manet, and he became a part of the Post-Impressionist movement, which was led by Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cezanne.  Munch did not receive much appreciation for his art in his time, but he was eventually hailed as a pioneer of Expressionism in the world of fine arts. Nearly 100 pieces of his work will be exhibited, including oil paintings and master prints courtesy of the Munch Museum in Oslo. While there are multiple versions of ‘The Scream’, this is the first time the version created with oil paint and tempera is being shown in Japan.  Explore 60-plus years’ worth of paintings depicting deep human emotions such as anxiety and loneliness, as well as stunning natural landscapes of Norway, and works from his final years which feature vibrant, pigmented colours.

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