1. Narita Farm Land
    Photo: Narita Farm Land
  2. Tokyo Tower Milky Way Illumination
    Photo: Tokyo Tower

Things to do in Tokyo this week

This week’s hottest events and exhibitions happening around the capital

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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. From art exhibitions and foodie events to seasonal festivities and outdoor happenings, you can pack a lot into seven days in the capital.

Wondering where to start? We've sorted through the many events and venues in Tokyo that are still open and running during this time, plus we're keeping an eye on hottest new openings around the capital. 

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

Best things to do this week

  • Things to do

June brings with it the chance to get out in the fields and watch nature at play. Firefly season is upon us, and while it's true that Tokyo is rather limited in the field department these days, there are still some great spots to see these homegrown fireworks before they burn themselves out.

Check out our top picks of hotaru-watching events in central Tokyo, way out in the western suburbs and even in neighbouring Chiba prefecture.

  • Things to do
  • Shiba-Koen

Enjoy a late night stroll under an artificial Milky Way at Tokyo Tower’s main deck. As an alternative solution for constellation lovers, Tokyo Tower has recreated the Milky Way using 21,000 LED lights, so you can gaze up at the (artificial) stars in the middle of the city.

Every 15 minutes the blue LED lights that represent the starry sky turn pink and gold, while the Milky Way changes from white to a rainbow of seven colours. This optical special effect makes the Tokyo skyline look even more mesmerising, as if our beloved city is under a magical starry night.

The event takes place daily from 9.30am until 10pm (until 10.30pm on Sat).

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  • Restaurants
  • Omotesando

Summer in Japan is hot, humid and heavy. So what could be more refreshing than some wonderful kakigori shaved ice desserts? The annual Omotesando Hills Adult Kakigori Festival, which runs from June 24 to August 31, will have some unique versions of this icy treat. Don't worry about the festival's slightly odd name – it's all about showcasing grown-up versions of this classic childhood treat.

Seven stores featured in the festival will offer special frosted creations with surprising flavour combinations. At Yasaiya-mei you can enjoy a kakigori made with freshly ground wasabi and muskmelon (¥2,000). The shaved ice is placed inside one half of a melon, while a large dollop of melon-and-wasabi-flavoured espuma sits on top.

Bar à vin Partager, on the other hand, serves a kakigori topped with Japan’s famous shine muscat grapes, grape syrup and a shiso leave-flavoured mousse (¥2,300). The surprise, however, is a gorgonzola cheese cream hidden inside the mountain of shaved ice. 

Other exclusive kakigori variations include one made with ground Himalayan rock salt and condensed milk. It’s topped with raspberry sauce and filled with nata de coco jelly (¥2,300). Coffee lovers will enjoy a shaved ice that’s made with espresso from Vietnamese coffee beans, boasting a smokey yet fruity flavour (¥750). It turns into a frappe when mixed with regular and condensed milk. 

Note: some of the festival kakigori are limited to between 10 and 30 servings per day, depending on the store and day of the week. Hours vary by store, see the website for details.

  • Art
  • Digital and interactive
  • Harajuku

Step into an enchanted digital forest in this collaborative exhibition between teamLab and Galaxy. This interactive experience is based on the concept of catching different digital animals to study them before releasing them back into their habitat. Rather than using butterfly nets or jars to catch, however, visitors of this digital art space can use an app on their smartphone to collect different animals in the mystical forest. 

Be gentle when approaching these critters! If you try to touch them they might run and disappear into the forest. Instead, aim your phone camera at them so they’ll appear on your screen. You can also work together with other exhibition visitors and create an observation net at your feet by surrounding the animals projected on the floor and shepherding them to the centre of the space. 

While the exhibit is free, reservations are required so as to avoid overcrowding the venue. Each session is an hour long, with the exhibition open from 11am until 7pm daily. You can book a timeslot via the event website.

The end date of this event is yet to be announced. 

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  • Things to do
  • Yokohama Station area

Spend an evening in Yokohama Bay Quarter marvelling at colourful paper lanterns – you’ll feel like you have been transported to the heritage town of Hoi An in Vietnam. Whether it’s during the day or at night, there are plenty of opportunities to get your Instagram shots here. And from June 15 to August 31, there will be food trucks outside serving iced cold beer, sandwiches and meals for you to enjoy on-the-go while taking in the postcard view.

  • Art
  • Tokorozawa

Good news for art lovers – it turns out we won’t have to wait until July to experience Van Gogh in immersive digital form after all. In addition to the Immersive Museum’s Impressionism exhibition coming to Nihonbashi in July, a digital art exhibition dedicated solely to Vincent Van Gogh is opening at the Kadokawa Culture Museum in Saitama this June. The exhibition will run from June 18 through November 27, in the same 1,100sqm space that hosted last year’s Dreamed Japan, Images of a Floating World digital ukiyo-e showcase.

For this Van Gogh special, moving imagery will be projected from floor to ceiling to give visitors exploring the space the illusion of walking into – and becoming a part of – the Dutch Post-Impressionist master's revered paintings. Expect to be immersed in some of Van Gogh’s most famous pieces including 'The Starry Night', 'Sunflowers' and 'Cypresses', to name a few. There will be accompanying music to evoke the beautifully poetic and complicated inner world of the artist. 

General admission is ¥2,200 for those who buy their tickets online (available now), while same-day tickets will be sold for ¥2,400 at the door. Tickets for high school students and junior high school students are ¥1,800 (same-day ¥2,000), while tickets for elementary school students are ¥1,100 (same-day ¥1,300).

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  • Restaurants
  • Sushi
  • Akihabara

This old-school sushi shop stands out from the sprawling neon glitz of Tokyo otaku haven Akihabara. Just a one-minute walk from the Showa-dori exit of Akihabara Station, Sushi Sakaba Fujiyama is famous for its oversized nigiri toppings and seriously filling sushi courses. 

The all-you-can-eat sushi course at Sushi Sakaba Fujiyama usually starts at ¥3,999 per person. But until June 30, you can eat as much sushi as you want for only ¥2,999.

You’ll have a list of 40 different dishes to choose from, including tuna, salmon, eel, shrimp and much more, plus side dishes like chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), crab miso salad and miso soup, too. For an additional ¥580, you can add unlimited soft drinks, or get free flow beer, sake and cocktails for just ¥1,480 extra.

This deal is only available to five pairs of diners per day. Considering what a good deal this is, we recommend booking in advance via online or by phone.

  • Things to do
  • Tama area

Run by Tokyo Summerland amusement park, the Wonderful Nature Village out in western Tokyo is home to around 15,000 hydrangeas across 60 varieties, including mountain, French and pink annabelle hydrangeas. The highlight here is a hill covered with 3,000 white annabelle hydrangeas.

On Saturdays and Sundays you can participate in several workshops at the Mori no Kokaido forest hall from 10am to 5pm, where you’ll learn how to make floral wreaths, practice chalkboard art or create a moss terrarium.

If you visit on June 25 and 26 and on July 2 and 3, you can hop on the shuttle bus to the Minamisawa Hydrangea Mountain, which is another popular hydrangea spot in the area. The bus departs from Wonderful Nature Village at 11am, 12noon, 1pm and 2pm. Note that you’ll need to buy a bus ticket at the park entrance.

On weekdays, there’s a free shuttle bus running between JR Akigawa Station’s north exit and the park, departing at every hour between 10am and 3pm. You can also take the free shuttle bus from Tokyo Summerland that departs every 20 minutes. For more details, including other bus connections from Hachioji and Akigawa stations, see here.

The event takes place daily from 10am to 5pm.

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Harajuku

The renowned champagne house is touring the world with the Veuve Clicquot Solaire Culture exhibition to mark the brand’s 250th anniversary. As a tribute to Madame Clicquot, aka the La Grande Dame of champagne, the free exhibition is showcasing artworks by ten influential female artists from Japan and across the world, including Yayoi Kusama and manga artist Moyoco Anno. You’ll also get to explore the brand’s historical archives, iconic objects, paintings, illustrations as well as VC music and literature.

As an experiential element to complement the exhibition, the venue is hosting a boutique offering souvenirs from the Solaire Culture exhibition, plus a pop-up restaurant. At the latter you’ll be able to sample Veuve Clicquot champagne paired with light bites from Chef Nao Motohashi of Tokyo restaurant Julia.

While the exhibition is free, you must make a time slot reservation before visiting. (And of course, entry is limited to those aged 20 years old and above).

  • Things to do
  • Meguro

Hotel Gajoen, known for its halls adorned with marvellous Japanese art, is hosting an art illumination exhibition at its famed Hyakudan Kaidan (100-step staircase), which is a registered tangible cultural property of Tokyo. 

The theme ‘Light and Shadow: One Hundred Stories’ is inspired by the tradition of telling ghost stories in the summer to send a chill down your spin. The installations at each room use light and shadow to illustrate the stories, which progress as you walk further into the maze.

You’ll see lanterns carved with ornate patterns and figures of ghosts, as well as illustrations of yokai (Japanese demons) in hidden places. Legend says that real ghosts will appear to greet you after you finish all 100 stories.

Spooky tales aside, there’s no shortage of photo opportunities here, including the goldfish paper lanterns and bamboo lanterns by Akarinowa that adorn the entrance to the Hyakudan Kaidan Staircase. Entry costs ¥1,500 (students ¥800) per person, which you can purchase at the door, or get an early bird ticket online by July 1 for ¥1,200 (students ¥800).

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  • Restaurants
  • Tea rooms

The old English tradition of afternoon tea is alive and well in Tokyo, where city hotels are constantly trying to outdo each other with ever more luxurious servings. What's more, these indulgent tea sets often come with a Japanese twist, so you can expect an extensive selection with creative cakes, scones, small sandwiches and the like featuring the ingredient of the season...

  • 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. With the state of emergency completely lifted, many of us have been looking forward to finally spend some quality time with family and friends out in public, and we can finally do that...

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  • 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.

  • Art
  • Roppongi

British-Indian contemporary artist Anish Kapoor has created some of the world’s most iconic public art installations, from Chicago's 'Cloud Gate' aka 'The Bean' to a giant whirlpool by the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Kapoor, whose art often explores the concepts of human perception and space, famously purchased the rights to Vantablack in 2016 – a pigment thought to be the ‘blackest black’ on earth as it absorbs 99.965 percent of light. 

In this exhibition at Scai Piramide is a continuation of the study on the void, with abstract pieces that draw viewers in with their brilliant pigments and reflections. Expect mind-bending works like the diptych 'Eclipse', where two circles appear to float and overlap each other, as well as the vivid 'Oriental Blue' sphere found at the entrance of the exhibition.

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  • Art
  • Omotesando

Now showing at Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo is this magnificent installation by Chicago-born Rashid Johnson, a photographer and sculptor who is often identified as part of the post-Black movement.

From ceramic pots to shea butter and walkie-talkies to African-American history books, the variety of materials Johnson uses in his ‘Plateaus’ (2014) installation is a reflection of Johnson's multifaceted upbringing that made him the artist that he is today. 

According to Johnson, the pyramid-like framework he uses as the foundation of this piece is not intended to symbolise a hierarchy, but rather a unique synthesis of things he draws inspiration from. 

  • 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). 

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  • Art
  • Ebisu

Tokyo-born Mitsuko Iwago is a renowned wildlife photographer whose works have been featured everywhere from NHK to National Geographic. This month-long exhibition at TOP comprises over 100 photographs of wild animals that Iwago took during his trips to the Pantanal between 2015 and 2018. The Pantanal, a Unesco World Hertiage Site, is the world's largest tropical wetland area stretching from Brazil to parts of Bolivia and Paraguay. 

From fierce jaguars to elusive Brazilian tapirs, Iwago’s astonishing snap shots of endangered species are a testament to the natural beauty of the planet, underlining the urgency in protecting the wildlife of these sacred, biodiverse lands.

  • Art
  • Ueno

The National Galleries of Scotland boasts one of the finest collections of Western paintings in the world, with works by artists from the Renaissance to the late 19th century including Rapahel, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Renoir and Monet, to name a few. This exhibition hosted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is an opportunity to savour Britain’s most treasured artworks in Japan, including Veláquez's early masterpiece 'The Old Woman Cooking Eggs'. 

Divided into four chapters (Renaissance, Baroque, The Age of the Grand Tour and Pioneers of the 19th Century), the exhibition features 90 different pieces ranging from watercolours to oil paintings.

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  • Art
  • Ueno

After a year and a half of renovations, The National Museum of Western Art – famously designed by French architect and painter Le Corbusier – finally reopened on April 9. The permanent collection boasts works ranging from Renaissance masterpieces to paintings from the early 20th century – most notably one of Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’ completed in 1916. 

This temporary exhibition celebrating the museum's reopening is held in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands and the Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany. Highlights include the ‘Woman Before the Setting Sun’ painting by Caspar David Friedrich. 

  • Art
  • Painting
  • Shibuya

For the past several decades, Colombian artist Fernando Botero has humoured the world with his exaggerated depictions of people, animals and objects. This restrospective at Bunkamura – the first of its kind to be held in Tokyo in 26 years – is a particularly special event as it celebrates the artist's 90th birthday.

Curated by Botero himself, the exhibition comprises roughly 70 paintings, drawings and watercolours from the beginning of his career to present day. Highlights to look forward to include the 2020 piece ‘Profile of the Mona Lisa’, which has never been shown to the public until now.

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  • Things to do
  • Saitama

Moominvalley Park’s summertime Umbrella Sky event is now on, with 1,200 colourful umbrellas lined up above a 200-metre-long walking path. This year's display is themed on designs from the Moomin picture book The Dangerous Journey, published in 1977. The beautiful stretch of colourful translucent umbrellas creates stunning light and shadow effects. Some of the umbrellas even feature different Moomin characters.

The installation is supervised by world-renowned textile designer Masaru Suzuki. After the event, these umbrellas will be upcycled into new products by sustainable fashion brand Plasticity. The items will be sold from early October at the park's souvenir shop.

On June 5, 12, 19, 26 and July 3, kids can listen to the story of The Dangerous Journey on the second floor of the entertainment facility Kokemus (in Japanese only). Storytime starts at 3pm each day. A variety of souvenirs themed on the story are sold on the first floor of the same building, where you can also create your own Moominvalley x Umbrella badge for ¥500.

Moominvalley Park is open from 10am-5pm, Sat, Sun & holidays from 10am-6pm.

Free things to do in Tokyo this week

  • Art
  • Digital and interactive
  • price 0 of 4
  • Harajuku

Step into an enchanted digital forest in this collaborative exhibition between teamLab and Galaxy. This interactive experience is based on the concept of catching different digital animals to study them before releasing them back into their habitat. Rather than using butterfly nets or jars to catch, however, visitors of this digital art space can use an app on their smartphone to collect different animals in the mystical forest.  Be gentle when approaching these critters! If you try to touch them they might run and disappear into the forest. Instead, aim your phone camera at them so they’ll appear on your screen. You can also work together with other exhibition visitors and create an observation net at your feet by surrounding the animals projected on the floor and shepherding them to the centre of the space.  While the exhibit is free, reservations are required so as to avoid overcrowding the venue. Each session is an hour long, with the exhibition open from 11am until 7pm daily. You can book a timeslot via the event website. The end date of this event is yet to be announced. 

  • Things to do
  • price 0 of 4
  • Yokohama Station area

Spend an evening in Yokohama Bay Quarter marvelling at colourful paper lanterns – you’ll feel like you have been transported to the heritage town of Hoi An in Vietnam. Whether it’s during the day or at night, there are plenty of opportunities to get your Instagram shots here. And from June 15 to August 31, there will be food trucks outside serving iced cold beer, sandwiches and meals for you to enjoy on-the-go while taking in the postcard view.

Advertising
  • Art
  • price 0 of 4
  • Omotesando

Now showing at Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo is this magnificent installation by Chicago-born Rashid Johnson, a photographer and sculptor who is often identified as part of the post-Black movement. From ceramic pots to shea butter and walkie-talkies to African-American history books, the variety of materials Johnson uses in his ‘Plateaus’ (2014) installation is a reflection of Johnson's multifaceted upbringing that made him the artist that he is today.  According to Johnson, the pyramid-like framework he uses as the foundation of this piece is not intended to symbolise a hierarchy, but rather a unique synthesis of things he draws inspiration from. 

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • price 0 of 4
  • Harajuku

The renowned champagne house is touring the world with the Veuve Clicquot Solaire Culture exhibition to mark the brand’s 250th anniversary. As a tribute to Madame Clicquot, aka the La Grande Dame of champagne, the free exhibition is showcasing artworks by ten influential female artists from Japan and across the world, including Yayoi Kusama and manga artist Moyoco Anno. You’ll also get to explore the brand’s historical archives, iconic objects, paintings, illustrations as well as VC music and literature. As an experiential element to complement the exhibition, the venue is hosting a boutique offering souvenirs from the Solaire Culture exhibition, plus a pop-up restaurant. At the latter you’ll be able to sample Veuve Clicquot champagne paired with light bites from Chef Nao Motohashi of Tokyo restaurant Julia. While the exhibition is free, you must make a time slot reservation before visiting. (And of course, entry is limited to those aged 20 years old and above).

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