Golden Week in Tokyo 2015

42 ways to keep yourself entertained over the extra-long weekend

Golden Week in Tokyo 2015

Golden Week in Tokyo 2015
Festivals and food | Art and museums | Film | Music |

Festivals and food

Odaiba Hawaii Festival

Apr 29-May 6 | VenusFort
Odaiba's annual tribute to the Aloha State returns to VenusFort, with the popular hula and Tahitian dance performances complemented by laidback live music, a Hawaiian market, ukulele classes and – of course – plenty of delectable grub and drinks from Japan's favourite vacation spot.
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Plarail Expo

Apr 29-May 6 | Makuhari Messe
Fans of Tomy’s plastic trains won’t want to miss this yearly bash, which features giant dioramas, fun games, ridable trains for kids, and the chance to shop for limited-edition merchandise that’ll make your friends green with envy.
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Nikufest – Japan Meat Festival

Until May 6 | Komazawa Olympic Park
Every Tokyo carnivore's favourite bash takes over Komazawa Olympic Park, with hordes of meat lovers gathering to munch on a wide range of goodies from all over the world. This year's edition is divided into two parts, each one with different restaurants exhibiting.
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Kurayami Matsuri

Apr 30-May 6 | Okunitama Shrine
The ancient Okunitama Shrine out in Fuchu is said to have been founded in the year 111, and the Kurayami Matsuri is its most famous event. Translating as 'darkness festival', the festivities go on for a week, with float parades, performances and plenty of family-friendly fun taking place every day. The highlight comes on the evening of May 5.
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Meat and Beer Fair

Apr 30-May 5 | Tokyu Toyoko department store
A combo you can never go wrong with, flesh and suds are in focus at Shibuya Tokyu's gourmet extravaganza, which sees a total of 27 restaurants from all over the city set up stalls on the Toyoko department store's eighth floor.
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Local Gourmet Festival

Until May 6 | Yomiuri Land
Take a break from riding the roller coasters and indulge in some local specialities at Yomiuri Land's yearly eating extravaganza, taking place over a period of 11 days this year. More than 60 food varieties (including eternal favourites like yakisoba and ramen) and plenty of ji-biiru (local beers) are on offer.
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May 2-3 | Zojoji Temple
Participate in around 100 workshops related to traditional Japanese culture and religion, including a Noh theatre experience and classes for calligraphy and zazen meditation, and catch performances ranging from electronic music to sutra recitation.
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U-1 Udon Grand Prix

May 2-6 | Symbol Promenade Park
Challenging Yoyogi Park's Tenkaichi Tournament for the title of Japan's number one udon contest, the U-1 Grand Prix was first held in Osaka in 2013 and now gears up for its second Tokyo edition. 20 top noodle-makers from all across the country will do battle on the Ishi to Hikari plaza in Ariake.
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Icecream Expo

May 2-6 | Laforet Museum Harajuku
More than 100 kinds of ice cream can be sampled at this certifiably cool fest, taking place at Harajuku teen heaven Laforet. In addition to edible varieties from all over Japan, the display selection includes vintage wrappings not seen on store shelves in over 30 years.
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Yokohama Parade

May 3 | Yamashita Koen (start point)
Marking the opening of the city's annual Port Festival, this traditional procession offers much more than the name suggests: there are actually two parades taking place, with the spectacular 'super parade' complemented by a smaller-scale kids' parade.
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Cinco de Mayo

May 3-4 | Yoyogi Park
Always a couple days ahead of schedule, the Tokyo version of Cinco de Mayo follows a familiar recipe: the mariachi bands, rockabillies, tequila bars and Tex-Mex food stands are complemented by non-Mexican gourmet and music contributions from more than ten countries, including Canada, Chile and Argentina.
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Doki Doki Flea Market

May 3-5 | Makuhari Messe
There are flea markets, and then there's the eye-popping spectacle that unfolds at Makuhari Messe every Golden Week. The Doki Doki Flea Market is Japan's largest bric-a-brac fair, drawing around 1,500 vendors each day. That's not all, though: the attractions also include a handicraft market, a sizable food hall and a range of live music.
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JRA Horse Show

May 3-5 | Bajikoen
Setagaya's Baji Park is a well-loved part of town, especially for those with equine leanings. The park stages two major horse shows each year, with this spring extravaganza including various jumping events, a pony show and a synchronised police horse performance, plus more hands-on activities like horse and carriage tours and pony rides for the kids.
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Futako-Tamagawa Ennichi

Until May 6 | Futako-Tamagawa Rise
Staking its claim for Southern Tokyo's hottest spot this spring, the new Futako-Tamagawa Rise mall boasts more shops than most people can look through over a single weekend, plus a cinema, sports facilities and much more. Check it out during this opening festival.
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Tibet Festival

May 4-7 | Suwayama Kichijoji
This four-day celebration of Tibetan culture and religion takes place at Komagome's Kichijoji Temple and forgoes the food trucks for more spiritual pursuits, including meditation sessions, mandala making and ritual dancing.
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Odaiba Oktoberfest

Until May 6 | Symbol Promenade Park
The first outdoor version of Tokyo's extra-seasonal Oktoberfests invites revellers to gorge on suds, sausages and sauerkraut by the waterside in Odaiba. Sample a range of beers from German and Japanese breweries, all served up in proper glasses – and at prices that'd make a native German balk.
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International Gourmet Fair

Until May 10 | Tokyo Skytree Town
Following its appearance at Komazawa Park earlier in April, this celebration of 'international' grub moves to the Skytree for more mouth-watering nibbles from all over the world, plus ample varieties of imported beer and wine. In addition to the feasting, you can look forward to colourful dance performances.
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Melonpan Festival

May 5 | Lab
Savour a vast variety of sweet, melon-shaped bread at this one-day festival in Akasaka, where 13 bakeries team up to show off their 'melon pan' and raise funds for a charity active in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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Grand Wagyu Fair

Until May 10 | Shinjuku Central Park
Delightfully meaty offerings from Japan's best beef areas, including Kobe and Matsusaka, are served in gyudon (simmered beef over rice) form at this cattle farmer get-together in Shinjuku. Deluxe gyudon is available between April 25 and May 2, while the remainder of the event period sees the stalls switch gears and cook up yakiniku-don (grilled beef over rice) instead.
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Haisai Festa

May 2-5 | La Cittadella
Kawasaki's La Cittadella is taking a trip to Okinawa with four days of food, music and dance from Japan's southernmost prefecture. Look out for eisa dancing, stalls selling Okinawan soba, mango kakigori and Orion beer, live music by Okinawan performers and workshops on traditional crafts and instruments.
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Yokohama Frühlingsfest

Until May 6 | Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse
Held all across Germany to celebrate the coming of spring, Frühlingsfest is also a familiar feature on Yokohama's Golden Week calendar. There's always plenty of fun stuff to look forward to for kids, with this year's edition featuring a miniature train puffing about around the area, a huge trampoline and a 'bubble ball' in which to put the young 'uns. Adults, meanwhile, can look forward to oom-pah music, fine Teutonic brews and more than 90 kinds of grub.
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Tokyo Rainbow Pride

Until May 6 | Central Tokyo
The parade may be over, but there's still a host of events going on at Rainbow Week. Welcoming folk of all genders and orientations, it's sure to offer something for everyone.
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Midpark Library

Wed 29-May 10 | Tokyo Midtown
Spend a lazy spring day rolling around on the Midtown lawn with a book in hand – this 'open-air library' offers 150 titles and encourages productive use of the gorgeous greenery.
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Art and museums

Great Fake Exposition

Until May 6 | National Museum of Japanese History
Explore the complex relationship between 'real' and 'fake' through historical examples and learn about the historical and social context in which fakes appear and are separated from the 'genuine' at this fun exhibit. Don't miss the imitation sake and 'mermaid mummies'.
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A History of the World in 100 Objects

Until Jun 28 | Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
Originally a BBC radio series that later became a book, this British Museum-produced exhibit takes on the Herculean task of recounting a couple of million years through a mere 100 items, ranging from a Rosetta Stone replica to the chronometer used on the HMS Beagle.
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Mitsui Culture and History

Until Jun 10 | Mitsui Memorial Museum
The all-powerful Mitsui conglomerate shows off its treasures at this exhibit displaying tea-related tableware and tools, some of which date back to the era of Takatoshi Mitsui, the enterprise's 17th-century founder.
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Time of Others

Until Jun 28 | Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
Featuring 18 artists from the Asia-Pacific region, the Museum of Contemporary Art's spring exhibit turns the focus to how, in our globalising age, we interact and deal with 'others', be they people with different values, experiences or styles of communication.
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Star Wars: Visions

Apr 29-Jun 28 | Tokyo City View
December still feels lightyears away, so it sure is fortunate that this Roppongi Hills exhibit comes along to give fans something to swoon over while they wait for The Force Awakens, the latest chapter in George Lucas's galactic epic. Mr Star Wars himself hand-picked artists to create around 60 pieces for 'Visions', a display that also features a wealth of costumes, props and concept art from the original film series.
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The Great Battle of Sekigahara

Until May 17 | Edo-Tokyo Museum
The newly renovated Edo-Tokyo Museum's spring special focuses on the legendary battle of October 21, 1600, in which the forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu routed the Toyotomi clan and its allies, opening the way for the Tokugawas to eventually unify all of Japan under their banner.
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Dog Exhibition

Until May 24 | Shoto Museum of Art
Dog person? You'll love this exhibit on all things canine, presenting the common path of humans and dogs from antiquity to the present day. View paintings, drawings, sculptures and more – a total of around 90 pieces depicting man's best friend.
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Italian Film Festival

Apr 29-May 5 | Yurakucho Asahi Hall
Italian film is all the rage in Tokyo this spring: Asahi Hall's popular programme returns with a total of 15 full-length and nine short films, including 14 flicks previously unreleased in Japan. We're especially looking forward to Last Summer (2014), starring Rinko Kikuchi and directed by Leonardo Guerra Seragnoli.
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Rooftop Cinema & Beer Fest

Apr 29-May 6 | Lumine Shinjuku 1
Shinjuku's Lumine opens its rooftop and puts on free movie screenings under the open sky every day between April 29 and May 6. Catch light fare like Mamma Mia, Sex and the City, Eat, Pray, Love, Bridget Jones's Diary and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty while sipping on brews and chewing on barbecued grub.
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Zushi Beach Film Festival

Until May 6 | Zushi Beach
How about enjoying a quality indie flick while the last rays of the sun are still visible on the horizon? Head down south for movies on the beach, complemented by gigs, talks and spontaneous parties.
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Latin! Latin! Latin!

Until May 15 | K's Cinema
Shinjuku theatre K's Cinema looks back at the past decade of Latin films with this ambitious special programme, consisting of 16 movies including the Cuban documentary Suite Habana (2003) and 1968 drama Lucía, plus Spanish Civil War drama The Sleeping Voice.
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La Folle Journée au Japon

May 1-4 | Tokyo International Forum
Populist in the best sense of the word, the La Folle Journée festival will again be bringing concise, cheap classical music to the masses at Tokyo International Forum. This year's theme is 'Passions' – look out for both tragic programmes and sugary love songs.
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Sunset The Marina: Spring Flavors

Apr 29 | Tokyo Yumenoshima Marina
The organisers of this small-scale seaside electronic music festival certainly don't lack ambition, as their stated aim is to recreate a 'little piece of Ibiza' in Tokyo. At least the location – Yumenoshima Marina out in Shin-Kiba – is picturesque enough, and this year's musical lineup also looks promising.
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Toyosu Yaon Carnival

Apr 29 | Toyosu Outdoor Music Plaza
This one-day seaside music 'carnival' combines domestic rock and pop with traditional dance and music performances, so you'll be able to catch Osaka jazz unit Ego-Wrappin' in between samba dancers and Awa-odori gangs from Shonan.
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Brand New Beat

May 5 | Mona Records
Shimokitazawa's musical multi-space Mona Records invites a gang of 'artists leading the next generation' for this indie night. Up-and-comers taking the stage include Wallflower and DYGL, who should be able to give you a comprehensive intro to the latest underground trends.
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Japan Jam Beach

May 3-5 | Makuhari Seaside Park
Rockin' On magazine's annual Japan Jam moves back out into the open, and although the word 'beach' isn't exactly how we'd describe Chiba's Makuhari and its seaside parks, at least the waterfront setting should help warm up the crowds. Domestic favourites dominate the lineup.
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Viva La Rock

May 3-5 | Saitama Super Arena
Offering a packed but somewhat directionless lineup of domestic bands, this three-day rock extravaganza again tries to make room for itself on the crowded calendar with a variety of extra events taking place inside and around Saitama's Super Arena over the weekend.
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Electric Zoo Beach

May 6 | Makuhari Seaside Park
Another almost-beach party out in Makuhari, this one is for the EDMers: genre boogeyman Steve Aoki headlines, while Aussie duo Knife & Party, Dutch trance fellows W&W and laptop prince R3hab will hopefully be more musically interesting.
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Rainbow Disco Club

May 2-4 | Higashi-Izu Cross Country Course, Shizuoka
Head out to the Izu Peninsula for this combo event uniting music and art, extended from a one-day bash to a full weekend affair. The lineup looks juicy especially for fans of electronic music: Canadians The Modern Deep Left Quartet, Norwegian space disco cowboy Todd Terje, Amsterdam's Rush Hour Allstars, Beats in Space founder Tim Sweeney...
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By Time Out Tokyo Editors
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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