Events in Tokyo

By Kiru | Updated October, 2020

This is our guide for Events in Tokyo and is part of our series on Life in Tokyo. With 30 million people in the Metropolitan area, you are bound to find something interesting.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Events in tokyo - crowd event cover

This is our extensive guide for events in Tokyo and is a part of our series on Life in Tokyo. If you’re wondering how life is like in Tokyo, you’ve come to the right website. This guide mainly focuses on the events and matsuri’s surrounding the 30 million people in the Metropolitan area of Tokyo. You will definitely find something, no matter what, for you here.

 

There are so many types of events in Tokyo, some that you can’t even imagine about unless you’ve already been living here a couple of years. Don’t believe me? Look at the Matsuri’s they hold every year (including the questionable Penis festival). So get your bookmark finger ready.

 

We will go through the most popular events but also the little, hidden gem events in Tokyo. Some of these will go through traditional cultural arts and modern performances but others will focus on the crazy, eccentric and creative parts of Tokyo. 

 

There is always a lot going on and the biggest challenge is knowing where to look and find them. We also have our own events page so please feel free to have a browse of our BFF Tokyo Events Page.

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    Comedy Events in Tokyo

    Good old fashioned comedy

    Comedy. Everyone loves comedy so it’s not a shock that the bustling city of Tokyo which hosts many international residents would have some. 

    Coupled with small bars, many places in Tokyo offer some light beverages. In addition to the  usual beer, you may even find one or two unique cocktails. If you’re lucky, you might even get a taste of home with some establishments offering some country based servings.

    The scene in Tokyo is always evolving, comedy with it. Nowadays you’re able to experience your comedy shows in Japanese, in English and even a mixture of the two. Believe me, being able to deliver a series of jokes and gags in a mixture of two languages is hard, props to the comedians!

    It’s not just local acts but even comedians that star in Netflix shows and have worldwide fans perform in Tokyo (psst, I was thinking mainly about Dave Chapelle).

    Here’s a great article from JapanTimes highlighting some of the expats who are using comedy to raise everyone's spirits 

     

    Here’s some venues you can find a good laugh at.

    Stand Up: Good Heavens Comedy Club , Stand Up Tokyo

    Improv Comedy: Tokyo Comedy Store 

    Improv Comedy: The Pirates of Tokyo Bay

    Thinking about taking up improv like Kai from Terrace House has?

    Take some improv classes in Tokyo!

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Comedy in Tokyo

    Famous Comedians

    Unless you’re in the know, while in Tokyo, a lot of events will pass you by without you even knowing they are going on. 

    One service that helps you remember, find and notice these famous comedians would be the live nation Japan comedy newsletter. 

     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Japanese Style Comedy

    Sure! Tokyo offers traditional style Japanese comedy. The shows that are offered in Tokyo can be found in both English and Japanese.  Additionally, two famous and popular style of Japanese comedy is Rakugo and Manzai.

    Rakugo

    Rakugo is the type of comedy where it focuses on one performer who sits on a stage telling a long and intricate story. The story gets complicated and twisty however the pay off is usually worth the attention! 

    Unlike Manzai, the style focuses on originality with emphasis on original voice, pause, suspense and even gestures to tell the story.  Due to their originality, it’s very hard to find these as most of the time recording isn’t allowed. However Google will always prevail, have a quick search yourself to find something you like (or maybe understand).

     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Manzai

    Personally, manzai is my favourite type of Japanese comedy. It’s a Japanese twist to the typical Abbott and Costello comedy. It has two characters play against each other, usually one being a serious character while the other plays a less serious character

    If you want to know more about it, have a look at Hibana. It’s a netflix adaptation of a manga and it’s got a good rating on IMDB too! 

    Here’s a sample of what a Manzai could look like

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    I would definitely try and view one of these shows in person. Of course popular acts are pricey but it would be worth it!

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Music events in Tokyo

    Firstly, before we begin I’d like to say please practice safety if you will be attending events. Now with that disclaimer out there, let me also say that normally these events are usually fun filled and stress free. 

    Now you might be thinking, you’ve experienced music events before, whats more to experience. Yes, you’re right but let me tell you this; the crowd is different and the service is different. 

    The experience you will get is very different mainly because drug laws in Japan are very strict. So, to make sure the event is enjoyable - all effort is put into the service, drinks and safety of all these events! 

    "I probably went around 2017. It was really good, there were many good acts there. I don't listen to much music but it was an experience that was strongly recommended to me so I thought I definitely had to go. I'd go again and recommend anyone who hasn't- to go." - Camile (One Coin English teacher)

    Summer Sonic - Buy Event tickets online

    "Best event hands down, went with some great people" - Karl

    Fuji Rock Festival - Event news

    Now, we know EDM isn’t for everyone but we still recommend going at least once!

    August - TOKYO SUMMER SONIC OFFICIAL LINK

    July - JAPAN FUJI ROCK OFFICIAL LINK

    Make sure that you keep an eye out for when all the events are happening and also what you are allowed to bring since in some events some items are forbidden in the venue.

    Tokyo EDM Musical Festivals

    September - Ultra Japan official link

    Rock Musical Festivals

    March - Knotfest Japan official link

    March - Download Festival Japan official link

    Need more money? Check out our Guide to Part-Time Jobs for Foreigners!

     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Music Festivals

    Not everything has to be so upbeat. Let’s get into some Jazz

    You can’t talk about music events in Tokyo without also mentioning Live Jazz. It’s very popular and in my time here in Japan, I’ve managed to meet at least 3 very good jazz singers. But that’s not all, if you’re lucky you can even get free tickets like I did.

    Bonus

    Before I talk more about music events in Tokyo, there’s a great bar I’d like to introduce to you as a bonus. During my first month in Japan I was introduced to a bar called JBS. Jazz, Blue, Souls. Run by an old Japanese gentleman named Kobayashi-san, he is very particular about his music and decor. To get the best experience, treat it as his house and you are a guest. Additionally, you can request songs! But I do recommend enjoying his music - he will cycle through songs and make sure each song is a smooth transition.

    The events run all year but normally slow down in the winter months. Generally speaking you can expect to find a lot of events from January to September.  You can find more information about events and regularly check out local ones close to you by viewing Blue note and Billboard Cafe, both have a section just for Tokyo. 

    If that sounds too mainstream for you, one other thing that many young Japanese in their 20s do to get their monthly dose of Jazz is use instagram. If you know what to search, you can find very small shows that do jazz shows in Tokyo.

    Search terms that can sometimes lead to gold in Tokyo

    #livejazztokyo

    #jazztokyo

    #ジャッズライブ

    Here are some additional websites to get a full list of helpful Jazz bars in Tokyo:

    The best 10 Jazz & Blues Events in Tokyo from Yelp

    Best Jazz bars events in Tokyo From Tokyo Timeout

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Concerts in Japan

    While the demand might still be low-key in-demand, there’s no denying a concert experience is memorable. Many concerts are being held online and most likely will continue to be occasionally held online.

    Those that aren’t online and instead in Japan are fun, just like anywhere else. We’ll keep this section short for now but we will come back to update it once there’s more concerts being held.

    However, let’s get into it! Over the last 5 - 10 years Japan has seen a big increase in international live shows being held. Think of any big name artists and you can bet they’ve made an appearance or two in Japan. Mainly in Tokyo though, might I add. Mariah Carey? Yup. Kiss? Yup. Rudimental? Yup. 88 Rising crew? Yup. No matter the act, at one point they will take a trip to the east.

    We won’t bore you with information that you already know, find your favourite artists page and just check there but, here’s some links that might help you:

    Concert search site 

    LIVE NATION

    Upcoming concerts in Tokyo

    Bandsintown

     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Events in Tokyo - Private Japanese Lessons

    Let us help you learn Japanese

    In addition to awesome articles, we also provide the most affordable Japanese lessons in Tokyo at our school Japan Switch

    Music and Broadway events in Tokyo

    Japanese Performances in Japanese

    If you’re out in Tokyo this weekend or any weekends in fact, something that might interest you is Japanese Theatres. Theatres in Japan always have something interesting going on, especially on weekday nights and evenings. 

    One place to find good and a variety of performances is from Gekidanshiki. They have a wide range of performances from the famous Cats all the way to the Little Mermaid. Other plays in the Tokyo theatre hemisphere is Takarazuka, they perform A Fairy Tale, I am from Austria and many more.

    Our quick tip is to book in advance and have at least 7 days spare. Depending on the theatre and the play, it could last several days. So if you’re in Tokyo this weekend, look at saving some time during the week too.

    Events in Tokyo-Music and Broadway events

    Western performers in English

    Other plays that you could catch obviously include western and international ones which are done in English. Keep an eye out for some of these performances which can be found at the Yokohama Noh Theatre.

    One great thing about this is that Broadway offers some films that have turned into musical productions too. Now, before you go dismissing this, we’re talking about classic ones like Aladdin and Lion King. Not ones like swiss army man. So if you fancy seeing some good shows, check out the international section of the broadway website. Some extra sites to visit are below:

    The Japan Times Musical Event Listings 

    Japan Broadway Musical Show Listings

    The Giant Hikarie in Shibuya

    Need a friend to go with to all these events but haven't been able to meet anyone? Our Official Guide to Making Japanese Friends will help you!

    Japan Cultural events in Tokyo

    These events are great for understanding more about Japanese culture. There’s no doubt before even reading this article, you have heard about some famous events. These could be culturally famous like sumo, bet you’ve heard of that one right?

    Sumo is definitely something that is brought up a lot in films and anime. There’s even an Idiot abroad episode where they try sumo wrestling.

    Sumo events

    Sumo wrestling tournaments are held around six times a year in Japan. Among those six events, three are held in Tokyo while the remaining three are held in places other regions of Japan. Ticket prices vary but are usually 2000 yen. Tickets can be found online but also here.

    Noh drama in Tokyo

    Noh dramas are very famous. In fact you might even recognise the masks. The history behind the Noh dramas and how the character has evolved can be understood through the performances themselves. Throughout the ages, the show has evolved. The masks, stages and costumes have all some relations to history as they have all changed throughout the times.  Taking a trip to one of events will shed some light on the meanings behind the expressions and masks and you’ll be able to share to your friends what youtube learned about your new found knowledge.

    Butoh events in Tokyo

    Butoh dance is more of a dark dance that is expressed using violence and humor. Each butoh dancer creates their own piece and audiences watch their performances and try to guess what they were trying to portray. If you are in Japan, you may not get the chance again so do yourself a favor and see whether Butoh dance is your style or not! 

    For the Japanese cultural events, I would recommend to search on facebook for the events since most of the events do not have a specific website and Facebook will have accurate information and you will be able to find what you are looking for there instantly. 

     

    International Festivals Events in Tokyo

    To continue this article, I definitely need to talk about international festivals and events in Tokyo. What do I mean when I say this? Events in Tokyo that are based on a culture that’s not Japanese. The events serve to help expand people's horizons, share culture and to create a community. 

    At these international events in Tokyo you can find food, clothes, jewellery based on each country. Not only that, you can also find many forms of music traditional and modern. Sometimes these events are run or sponsored by the embassy of the country of the international event. The people you can find at the booths are usually expats from the country themselves that are helping with the event. 

    You usually find the events in Yoyogi Park but that’s not the only place you can find these events. In addition to Yoyogi Park, Odaiba and Yokohama are often hotspots for these types of events. If you feel like making new friends, dancing, generally having a good time with the company of good people then you definitely need to join in on the international events. 

    Tokyo Africa festival

    • Date 04/05/2019-04/07

    Yokohama German festival 

    • Date 04/26/2019-05/06/2019

    Tokyo Thai festival 

    • Date 05/11/2019-05/12

    Tokyo Oktoberfest 

    • Date 05/12/2019 

    Tokyo Jamaica festival 

    • Date 05/26/2019- 05/27/2019

    Vietnam festival

    • Date 8/6/2019

    Tokyo Indian festival

    • Date 09/28/2019-09/29

    If you've ever been interested in teaching part-time and making some extra money, there's an awesome opportunity at One Coin English - Check it out!

    International Festivals

    Japanese food festivals in Tokyo

    Food and drinks, who can say no? Even if you’re on a diet, these events are for you. Stuff your face with grilled tentacles, raw fish, yaki-tori or grilled vegetables! Food events run throughout the year so make sure you don’t miss out these events. 

    Beer Festival

    Food Festivals

    Now, we could add an extra 3000 words or so just mentioning events back to back or I could fill you in on a secret. Personally, one of the things I do when I'm looking for these types of events is visit two websites. Japanistry & Japan Cheapo. Both of the sites offer great insight into events and I would recommend a read, or two… or many more.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Tokyo Event websites:

    Official event page for all regions

    Here are the links to the official events page of Tokyo and surrounding cities. The best thing to do is to check out all the links below and note down where you want to go so that you do not forget about the event. Each city has something different and unique so please do not just limit yourself to visit around Tokyo while you are in Japan. These websites are run by the local government, especially the Japanese version, so you will be able to see events that foreign sites may have missed. The link below is the English version. 

    Events in Tokyo official page

    Events in Yokohama facial page

    Events in Saitama official page

    Events in Kanagawa official page

    Japanese Festivals in Tokyo

    Along with their culture of theatre and performances, festivals are something that are always enjoyed by the Japanese locals. Sometimes these events are called matsuri’s too. Almost every weekend there’s something in Tokyo that can entice you and send you down a rabbit hole. 

    Pre-Covid you could find a festival every week, as times are changing it might not be the same experience. You could find events but find them sold out or open to a limited capacity so make sure to keep the search term “Tokyo this weekend” nearby!

    “Well.. That one doesn’t sound interesting…”

    Down below you’ll have some of the most famous festivals that are hosted in Japan. From a glance some events definitely seem like they have much more to offer however I’d like you to keep your mind open. Some events on paper do not sound amazing but if they’re in Tokyo you will definitely meet some interesting people that will change your whole experience. 

    March- April: Hanami Cherry blossom Festival

    The Hanami cherry blossom festival is hosted all over Japan. Each part of Japan will have their own special time as the Cherry Blossoms bloom differently depending on the weather. The Cherry blossom festival in Tokyo is something that gets everyone excited and into the parks, for a relaxing time. 

    Sakura trees only bloom for a week

    Tokyo typically has a big bloom between late March and early April. Sometimes this extends to the second and third week of April. It only lasts a week so make sure not to miss it!

    “It’s just a bunch of trees…”

    Well, you’re not wrong. Yes, they’re just trees. However, it’s a big part of the cultural experience to enjoy some boxed lunches (bento) in the park surrounded by these trees. People will often start setting up very early in the morning just to reserve a spot. It’s serious business. Additionally if you’ve watched The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, they have a funny episode where they show how serious people take it.

    Still don’t believe us? Check this vlog

     

    Bring a few friends, blankets, tarps and some snacks to accompany the food/drinks you’ll be bringing and you’ll be golden. Additionally, don’t forget your polaroid or camera too!

    If you’re a photographer, into photography or just want to be in a picture perfect scene (the Japanese call this “insta-bai”, we also suggest taking a boat trip in the middle of Tokyo. 

    So to summarise, whether you’re on a date or want to eat some food - go to some sakura tree settings. Places like Yoyogi are very popular! You can catch other events there like the other ones I mentioned so it’s like a two in one deal! 

    Bring a few friends, blankets, tarps and some snacks to accompany the food/drinks you’ll be bringing and you’ll be golden. Additionally, don’t forget your polaroid or camera too!

    If you’re a photographer, into photography or just want to be in a picture perfect scene (the Japanese call this “insta-bai”, we also suggest taking a boat trip in the middle of Tokyo. 

    So to summarise, whether you’re on a date or want to eat some food - go to some sakura tree settings. Places like Yoyogi are very popular! You can catch other events there like the other ones I mentioned so it’s like a two in one deal! 

    Chidorigafuchi Moat

    This is a boat ride where it takes you by river around cherry blossoms which honestly leaves an impression that isn’t forgettable. For a cheap 800 yen for a 30 minute ride, it’s popular during the season so make sure you plan accordingly! , you can experience the cherry blossoms with the lake, flowers and wind brushing past you. Couples, families, friends, photographers, tourists and of course more international people can all be seen on the river.

    Events-in-Tokyo-Japanese-Festival

    May: Kanda Matsuri

    The Kanda Matsuri has secured its own spot on the list with the most popular festivals located in Tokyo. The festival itself is held around the mid-may timeframe and unlike the others in this article, it’s the only one held in odd numbered years. That’s right, 2020 isn’t an odd year BUT you might be in luck with 2021. The last one that was held in 2019 was definitely an event that was remembered well, especially among the One Coin English teachers who attended.

    Here’s what one of the teachers had to say

    “I didn’t think an event that is held in Kanda could be fun, you know? Like it’s just a business place full of salarymen but it definitely changed my perspective”

    Why not every year?!

    The reason why festivals do not happen every year is because of all the different backgrounds and stories of the festivals. That rich cultural background of the event/matsuri will influence it’s date. Additionally, having a lot of festivals at the same time will cause clashes and make people not appreciate the event as much!

    What’s the story behind this event?

    The Kanda festival is mainly how the Tokugawa Ieyasu team won a battle, it’s a retelling/celebration and a reminder of that battle. You’ll catch many elements of the festival having some nod or some hint toward this battle too. In Japanese culture it’s common to believe that Kanda Myojin’s main shrine represents prosperity and good fortune for all who visit.

    The festival usually spreads itself along a week so there is plenty of time to enjoy the festival without having to scramble to see every single thing. Similarly to other festivals held in Tokyo, they have a portable shrine that is carried on a predetermined route. The shrine is carried by locals, usually men, dressed in Fundoshi.

    I want to join, can I?

    Yes. You can, maybe not this specific one but in recent years you are usually able to spot one or two clearly non-japanese people who participate in the festivals. However, not to dissuade you from trying to seek this out but you would need to prepare for the role for at least 6 months to a year before. 

    Talking to a few people who have participated before, they have said they went to weekly or bi-weekly meetings for over 6 months for the position. Unfortunately it isn’t a thing where you can join for a day and leave but it is something that will bring you many more friends. Have you had a look at our article (how to make friends in Japan).

    What else can I see at the Kanda festival?

    Along with the portable shrine that’s paraded around central Tokyo, you can see priests riding horses! What? Yes! If you’ve seen a matsuri before you’ll know that drums and flutes and other air instruments are played all day but what you may never have seen before is priests riding horses. While playing instruments.

    What places, other than Kanda can I see the festival?

    Good question! We previously mentioned central Tokyo but didn’t specify where in Tokyo we actually meant. The event that goes around Tokyo usually starts in Kanda travels to Nihonbashi, Otemachi and all the way to Akihabara, the arcade town. If you are aware of the different neighbourhoods on that side, you’ll know that each one of these places visited has a very different feel. 

    How different?

    Even compared to 20 years ago or 50 years ago, how the places look today, this weekend and last weekend is very different. Join the next event in May 2021 and see for yourself how the experience will leave an impression on you!

    June: Sanja Matsuri

    The previous entry, similarly to this entry have secured their place on the most famous and popular Matsuri list in Tokyo. Sanja Matsuri specifically takes place on the third friday of May and runs through all the way to Sunday. 

    It is said that Sanja Matsuri’s background and origin is wrapped around three important historical figures - Hinokuma Hamann, Hinokuma Takenan and Hajino Nakatamo. The reason the matsuri celebrates and remembers them is because they were behind the creation of the famous Sensoji Temple. 

    Sensoji Temple

    Many tourists will come to Tokyo and be compelled to visit Asakusa. Some go with purpose some go on a whim, after hearing it from another visitor or tourist. The main thing in Asakusa that tourists come to see is the Sensoji Temple, surrounded by a few market stalls, great ice cream shops and ramen places, you can guess why.

    Putting it back into the original place

    The reason this festival is held to appreciate the 3 mentioned above but not only that. The Shrine’s Mikoshi (all 3 of them) are returned to their original place. Everyone who lives locally or is participating in the event comes together as a big team to carry the Mikoshi back. It’s not an easy feat, the Mikoshi’s usually weigh over 1200kg. That is still pretty hard to calculate or put into perspective so imagine they are carrying a literal car above their heads! Amazing! This creates quite a bit of challenge but it mixes in a lot of fun and good times for all those involved. 

    During the festival, there is one float that is specifically designated for music. The music that it plays the normal Taiko drumming but it also includes some flutes. It makes the festival more upbeat and enjoyable, but also serves as motivation for the people carrying the Mikoshi while wearing Fundoshi.

    That’s not all!

    The event is accompanied by games that are fun for all members of the family and of course, you can eat wonderful food. Coincidentally, Asakusa is known for soba so if you go to the event or are there this weekend in Tokyo, eat it! It’s also a chance to take in all the traditional costumes and culture that you see people enjoying. So think about all the kimonos as well as the unique kimonos that you can see all around the festival. You don’t really get a chance to take it in so be sure to carve out some time where you focus only on the clothes, the atmosphere and most importantly, the people.

    Be aware though that in previous years, it's about 2million people that attend the event. Obviously due to restrictions and such, the future events will be scaled down immensely. We hope not too much but be sure to check out the local website just in case. It is a once in a year event, after all - be sure not to miss it if you’re already in Tokyo when it rolls around.

    June: Sanno Matsuri

    We’ve talked about two major scale matsuri events that happen in Tokyo but let’s scale it back a bit. Let’s talk about one of the events that doesn’t see much foot traffic that might even be a better experience. The sanno Matsuri. It usually hosts up to 500 people, and usually this is a high turnout of people for the event. 

    The next available one would be the June 2020 event. If that one is gone then the next one that's available would be the 2022 (which we think is better to aim for anyway!) It always takes place around mid-June. Unlike the Kanda festival, this one occurs only in even numbered years. So with June having gone and past, you should prepare for the one in 2022. Be sure to mark it in your calendar. 

    Quick history knowledge for you

    The Sanno festival like the previous Sanja matsuri is one that celebrates historical figures. This one in particular celebrates the Tokugawa Shoguns which is a period of time which spans from 1603 to 1867. 

    The festival itself lasts for one week and you join in on the 9 hour long parade which despite being long, is filled with smiles and cheers. Also in the Sanno matsuri festival, 3 more portable shrines are carried on the back and shoulders of willing volunteers(Again, remember - Mikoshi are portable shrines). The shrines are carried all the way to Yasukuni Shrine and even to the Tokyo imperial palace, it’s a great time to see the palace, the surrounding areas and even go shopping. If you didn’t know the imperial palace is near the shopping high-street that’s called Ginza.

    July 13-16th Mitama Matsuri

    So out of all the festivals mentioned so far, this one is my secret favourite place to visit and experience. It’s full of colour and vibrance that really brings out the smiles in everyone's faces, even if you had a bad day or week. It also takes place near the Yasukuni Shrine and is up to 4 days.

    Lucky day!

    In my first year in Japan, I was luckily enough to stumble upon this matsuri without much planning and I honestly, just standing there really made me happy. I ended up renting a Happi, ironic huh?

    30,000 lanterns

    In the last event, they reported having roughly 30,000 lanterns which displayed a lovely and iconic matsuri yellow at night. It makes it one of the few that run into the night and gives you that warm atmosphere. We suggest if you go to the event, definitely take a picture of the matsuri. Better yet, grab an utsurundesu (disposable camera) and get some grain that will definitely help add some atmosphere to your photos. 

    It’s not only night time that is special because you can also take pictures during the day, when the matsuri starts. Morning, afternoon or evening come whenever you want and leave whenever you want because matsuris are usually free and the event is longer than most.

    You’re bound to get hungry, infact if you didn’t I’d be worried. You’ll definitely get enticed by the snacks and food that boasts years of Japanese matsuri culture on it’s back. So don’t let the lanterns distract you too much because the food can definitely stand on its own two feet!

     July 27th: Shinjuku Eisa Festival [link in Japanese] 

    Next up is Shinjuku Eisa Festival, this is a pretty famous location in Tokyo so why not come to the festival and then do some shopping or go and visit a Michelin star ramen place? Let's get back to the Eisa festival, first of all, the festival happens around July. This 2019 year, the festival took place on 27 July and unfortunately the festival runs only one day. In this festival, they showed people a traditional dance which involved using drums and you can see a group of people happily performing together on the streets and bringing smiles to people around them. During the festival, people cheer for the dancers and sit on the road filming and paying attention to the dances. I will give you another tip since I think this item is needed, during my time in Japan, I have concluded that fans are a necessity for the hot weather so make sure that you take one with you! I like this festival because everyone performs together whether they are girls, boys, kids or older adults and this kind of theme is very sweet. 

    August 11-15: Fukagawa Hachiman Festival 

    Once it starts to cool down, you’ll definitely want to go to this event. The Fukagawa Hachiman hotel lasts for a total of 5 days during the middle of August. The previous year the event was held during 11th-15th of August but in future years it may shift a few days left or right. 

    Like I mentioned, those humid days start to lessen and it gets slightly cooler. This event is good for the season because what else can help you cool down other than… water! It’s a matsuri that involves water. The event, unique in its own regard for events in Tokyo, involves many people carrying 53 portable shrines. 53. That means if you miss the first 10 unique shrines you’ll see many more! You’ll also see volunteers in Tokyo cooling the shrine carriers with buckets and buckets of water. Sometimes even a large hose is used.

    If you want in on some of the splashing you can! It’s an event for all the family so you’ll get wet too, be prepared. Last time I went, many smiling faces, ice cream and lots of wet clothes. With the whole society structure, a lot of the kids will be shy to splash water on the older adults but after a while you’ll see that they get very involved in it too!

    August 31st: Asakusa Samba Carnival

    Yet another great festival in the heart of the culturally rich Asakusa. The event is definitely unique and if you asked any of the people who have attended it in the past, they’ll say the same.

    The Asakusa Samba Carnival is one where all the performers and staff participating in the event will wear flashy and colourful clothing. Some of the staff, like the name suggests, will be wearing clothes reminiscent of the Brazillian event “Carnival”.

    The event brings in many horses and most likely will take over the whole road. That’s how big the event actually is. Previous years have shown that it is very popular with over 500,000 spectators. Well, that was last year so it will be scaled down significantly in the years to come but nonetheless, it’s not to be missed.  Unlike the other events on this list, if you miss it on this day, that’s it. You’ll have to wait another year so, for some they prioritise this and the previously mentioned Shinjuku Eisa event over everything else.

    Competitive spirit

    The events on this list don’t have a competitive element to them as they are usually working in unison however this one does. This event has a competitive element to it and the samba groups will compete against each other to win the crown they offer to the winner. It’s fun to see especially if you’re there for the weekend.

    September 28: Kita Hanabi Taikal 2019

    The Kita Hanabi Taikal festival is a fireworks festival near the Arakawa river which makes it even more spectacular. If you have missed the other fireworks festivals that happened in the previous months or earlier this year, then it is a good chance to attend this one and not miss it this time! This following year it should happen around Saturday 28 September from 4:30 pm to 20:30 however it has yet to be confirmed. The main part of the event takes place starting from 6:30 pm so make sure to get there early. There will be free seating available near the event place but also paid seating starting from 1,000 yen but there is a couple of seating, individual seating and group seating for 4 people and also 8 people. 

    Quick weird fact

    Kawa in Japanese means river. Meaning Arakawa river means… Ara river river. 

    Anyway back on topic

    They are all individually priced so it is better to check out the Kita Hanabi Taikal website. According to the event team, if you like fireworks but do not like how busy the event can get - you’re better off coming to this event!

    Fireworks are a perfect way to spend time with your family or friends and it is also an Instagram worthy place so why go outside and see the amazing fireworks? The event is guaranteed to be a hit especially if you’re alone or come with a family!

    Here are three websites that are updated regularly that will keep you up-to-date with Japanese festivals events in Tokyo.

    September 14- Nov 4th: Showa Kinen Park Cosmos Festival 2019 

    The Showa Kinen Park is the host to a beautiful event called the cosmos festival. The festival features over 6 million flowers and many of those flowers are unique! The reason why people gather around is because they bloom during a very specific time period which is from September 14th-November 4th. There is no one out there that can say they can’t spare some time within two months to enjoy nature and be at ease with the unique scene. Please bear in mind that this is roughly when they start to bloom and sometimes it can be earlier or later. The good news about this festival is that there are over 20,000 square feet of flowers and you can find 6 million flowers, that's amazing, right? There are also 30 different cosmos flowers so you will not get bored seeing the same cosmos flowers and that can not be used as an excuse to not come.

    Not convinced?

    Let me share some facts with you!  This cosmos festival is one of the largest flower festivals in Japan and can be found right in Tokyo. This means that you do not need to travel a few hours away to just see flowers and can just hop on to the train to visit the center of Tokyo afterwards!

    Random Events in Tokyo or near Tokyo

    Tokyo and unique go very well together. Even before I was about to visit Japan, I wanted to try out unique events that I would not get a chance to if I was in my country. Here in Tokyo, there is the Yokosuka open day, Imperial palace open day and Japanese festivals in Japan. Go to the Yokosuka or Imperial palace open day since you only have one chance a year to visit! It will be a shame if you purposely miss this event because you forgot! Why don’t you visit and show off to your family and friends? 

    Events-in-Tokyo-Yokosuka-Base

    Unique Yokosuka base open day

    Tokyo and “unique” are a pairing that compliment each other very well.  “Weird and unique” is one of the ways the tourism industry in Japan marketed the experience here. Even before I was about to visit Japan, I wanted to try out unique events that I would not get a chance to if I was in my country. Here in Tokyo, there’s an open day for Yokosuka base and one for the Imperial palace. 

    Every year for one day, the public can go onto the base and buy American goods. There will also be live music and food so come along with your family and enjoy your time! The Yokosuka base will be open in August and Mikasa Park will also be open. Everyone attending the event will have a different entrance, so visitors head to the main gate and CAC holders enter through Mikasa gate. I think they have some Carl’s Jr and some other restaurants you cannot find off the base in Japan.

    Imperial palace open day

    The Imperial Palace is the place where the emperor resides and it's very rare to have a glimpse of that. Of course there are pictures in the corners of the internet but it doesn't quite give you the feeling that it should. Visiting it would be a great experience that you can brag to family and friends for years to come.do the same as when compared to the real life experience.

    Events During Corona Virus

    Virtual Concerts

    Since most concerts have been postponed or cancelled, you are now seeing new festivals and both famous and upcoming artists moving their concerts online. The obvious bad news is that you cannot be their physically, but the good news is that many of the events are free or are only requesting for a small donation.

    Famous Artists

    There are many organizations, companies, record labels, and solo artists holding an online concert for fans and to raise money for a good cause. There are already several festivals lined up online and some famous acts include Wiz Khalifa, The Killers, Erykah Badu, and John Mayer.

    1. Columbia Records Instagram Page
    2. Billboard.com List of Online Streams

    Upcoming Artists

    Stageit is an online venue where artists perform live, interactive, monetized shows for their fans directly from a laptop. Some events have fixed prices while others allow you to choose how much you want to pay. The one downside to this platform is that you need to create an account.

    17 live is a very popular app in Taiwan and Japan where artists and influencers can live-stream a broadcast and interact with their fans directly.  

    Virtual Reality Concerts

    Have a Steam or Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset? You can now enjoy some live virtual reality concerts at Waves. See Lindsey Sterling rock out the violin in the video below.

    Festivals

    The current global crisis has led to events being more accessible especially for online. Just year alone Avril Lavigne, Glass Animals and Sam smith haveThere are many digital music festivals popping up. The Billboard.com website has a lot of information on what festivals are going on. Some examples include the 420 festival, Twitch and Loop TV festival, and Bang Bang Con held by Korean boy band sensation BTS.

    Online Gatherings

    Have you ever heard of the website meetup.com? They normally have several hundred meet up gatherings offline every week in Tokyo. Here are some examples of meetups they have for offline gatherings.

    1. Museum Lover Meetups
    2. International Party Meetups
    3. Board Game Meetups
    4. Philosophical Discussion Meetups
    5. Stitch and Bitch Meetups
    6. Hiking Meetups

    There are various meetups for many different types of hobbies. However, because of the spread of COVID-19 hundreds of meetup hosts have shifted their meetups online. 

    If you are alone in Tokyo or feeling isolated, there are a ton of meetups you can join for free on their website. This link takes you to all the meetup events in Tokyo

    Here are a some groups based in Tokyo who are holding their events online. Most of their online events are for free.

    1. Tokyo Hangouters
    2. International Meet Up & Language Exchange
    3. Buddhism Discussion Group
    4. Marco Polo Translation Group

    Classic Board Games > Now Digital

    Play some of your favorite classic board games online with friends and strangers at the boardgamearena. Not sure on the legality of the site, but many people are playing games there.

    Classic Role Playing Games > Now Digital

    A fan of dungeon & dragons and other tabletop games that you need a dice to play? You can find and purchase a digital version of your favorite games and play with others online in real-time using their system at Role20

    House Party App

    If you are the type that likes playing quiz games and charades with friends, you will probably like the new houseparty app which is essentially your typical messenger app, but with a focus on playing games together in real time.

    Live Online Lessons

    Many organizations are holding online lessons to spread awareness and educate the general public about topics that affect everyone. Companies and non-profit organizations are using this opportunity to hold free lessons to create awareness of their organization and hopefully gather some fans that could potentially become users in the future.

    If online conferences are too expensive for your pockets, I would recommend online lessons as an alternative to get a good education and learn from leaders in the industry. You do not have the socializing aspect which virtual conferences are trying to promote, but majority of the online lessons are free and easy to access.

    Live Online Business Lessons

    There are not many business related online live lessons to be honest outside of attending a virtual MBA program. However, various organizations are offering free live lessons at Eventbrite or charging a really tiny fee.

    Eventbrite Online Classes

    Direct to Consumer Businesses : The application Yotpo has launched their conference speeches online for free. While Yotpo Live is not live, the content is great.

    Live Online Music Lessons

    There are a ton of websites that connect you with teachers to do live online music lessons. The site Lesson Face below seems to focus on music and has teachers for over 50 different music instruments. If you are ready to take lessons, this might be the time.

    1. Take Lessons
    2. Lesson Face
    3. Live Music Tutor

    Live Online Fitness Lessons

    A variety of fitness clubs and gyms are offering live fitness lessons through Instagram, YouTube or Facebook daily. This article by CBS covers around 10 different examples of free online workout live streams.

    Here are some live online workout sessions being in held by people in Tokyo through meetup.com. There are also multiple people offering live Zumba lessons.

    1. Zumba with Kate
    2. Tokyo Capoiera
    3. Megumi Tokyo Yoga

    Live Online Randomness

    The popular online course site CreativeLive has launched CreativeLive TV, which is a page that streams random courses 24 hours a day for free. I have used this website as a paid user in the past and they have a ton of courses on artsy and creative things from leaders in the industry. While looking at the schedule, I found a free one hour live lesson on how to be creative from the famous DJ Steve Aoki.

    Creative Live

    Non-Live University Courses

    You probably already know but many universities are offering courses online for free. I believe you do not receive official credit but you do receive a certificate of completion.

    1. Future Learn
    2. edX
    3. Coursera

    Looking for More Things to Do?

    Consider reading our article on 14 ways and 14 days to get your self-organized and ready for the Corona Virus. We've also prepared some tips to make your life in Tokyo easier in our guide series on Your Life in Tokyo.

    Virtual Business Seminars & Networking

    Many of the networking & business presentation groups have moved online for the near future. For those looking to meet other people in Tokyo and to hear from presenters in Tokyo, meetup.com is probably your best bet to finding something good. For those, who would like to experience something from another country or something more international Eventbrite would be the place to check. You can also check meetups from different countries to find something.

    Most events normally charge 500 - 1500 yen for an offline event, but most of these groups are providing online events for free. Here are a view that regularly hold online events in Tokyo.

    Business Owners in General

    Business in Japan Events

    People Consider Entrepreneurship or Specific Industries

    Le Code Wagon - Tokyo Business Events

    Code Chrystal - Tokyo Business Events

    This is a link to the general business and career meetup list on meetup.com

    Virtual Conferences

    Unlike concerts which might lose their big appeal depending on the experience. Virtual Conferences remain the same. Some conferences have been virtual since at least 2013, saves people time and flight tickets! So in this regard, virtual conferences have definitely an edge in terms of experience. Additionally with the mentality “the show must go on” many major industry leaders have pushed for more information sharing via online conferences. The learning should never stop!

    Offline conferences that have moved to online are still charging normal conference rates for attendance while others are offering small discounts. Expect to pay more than one hundred dollars, but these conferences are similar to their offline counterparts, full of presentations and opportunities to interact with people.

    The best place to check for online conferences is Eventbrite.

    Your second option would be to do a Google search for your industry + conference. While we can’t guarantee results especially considering some people have very niche industries, you could find some things if you look hard enough!

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