Each May in Japan is lushly verdant with the refreshing breeze. Major traditional festivals in Tokyo and highly popular events are held during this month every year.
Sanja Matsuri Festival
Sanja Matsuri is a large-scale festival that has been held since 1312 and is one of the Three Greatest Festivals of Tokyo, along with the Sanno Matsuri and Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri festivals. During the three days of Sanja Matsuri, hosted by the Asakusa Shrine, 100 portable shrines that enshrine deities are carried around the town of Asakusa. The carriers of the portable shrines are very energetic, turning the atmosphere of Asakusa into a festive mood. On the precincts of the Asakusa Shrine and the Senso-ji Temple, food stalls stand in a row, and events are held where Japanese drums are played, and traditional dances are performed. The festival is scheduled to take place on May 13 (Fri.), 14 (Sat.), and 15 (Sun.). As many as 1,500,000 people visit this festival every year, so the town gets extremely crowded. Getting too close to the moving shrines is dangerous, so you need to be careful when observing the parade.
Takara-no-mai dance: Asakusa's traditional event
Shichi-fuku-jin, or the Seven Deities, have been worshiped in Japan since ancient times, as they bring good luck. The ship that these deities are on is called takara-bune, or the treasure ship. A statue of Kan'non Bodhisattva has been enshrined as the main image of the Senso-ji Temple, a famous sightseeing spot in Tokyo. It is said to have originated in 628, when the fisherman brothers, Hamanari and Takenari, picked it up at the Sumida River and enshrined it after building a temple, the present-day Senso-ji. Associated with this legend, many kindergarteners pull a treasure ship around the town in the takara-no-mai dance performance, praising the fortune and prosperity the Kan'non brings and wishing for children's vigorous growth at the same time. The children are very charming in their costumes. Takara-no-mai will be held on Thursday, May 5, 2016.
Ginza Willow Festival and its impressive parade are a must-see.
On Thursday, May 5, 2016, the Ginza Willow Festival will be held on the Nishi-Ginza Street and at the Sukiyabashi Park in the Chuo Ward, Tokyo. This event commemorates the designation that the Nishi-Ginza Street received as one of the 20 streets that represent Tokyo. During the main event, the Ginza Golden Parade, brass bands and baton twirler teams march through the Nishi-Ginza Street. An appearance of a Hello Kitty character riding on a rickshaw is planned. Also, a plaza will be built for people to experience traditional Japanese pastimes that include spinning a top, toying with a Japanese bilboquet, and playing the game of go (a board game of capturing a territory). Many events will be held at different locations, and the day of the festival is an exceptional occasion in which the town of Ginza takes on nothing but the festival. The festival will be held on the Nishi-Ginza Street (from 1- to 8-chome block on the Sotobori Dori Street in the Ginza district).
Tokyo Port Festival: Tours on rare ships
The Port of Tokyo was opened in 1941 as an international trading port. The Tokyo Port Festival is held every year in May, commemorating the start of its operation. The year 2016 makes the 67th anniversary. The festival will be on May 14 (Sat.) and May 15 (Sun.). A survey ship (only on 14th), a fireboat (only on 15th), and a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's escort ship (planned), all of which are usually off-limits, will be made available to the public tours, and you can go inside the ships for free. Various events, such as a firefighting pageant (only on 15th) and short live performances, are also planned.
TOKYO PORT FESTIVAL 東京みなと祭
- Address 5-7-1, Harumi , Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0053, Japan
Hanazono Shrine Grand Festival with the spectacles of portable shrines
The Hanazono Shrine had assumed an important position as the shrine of a deity that has protected the Shinjuku district since before Ieyasu Tokugawa began the Edo Shogunate in 1603. The Hanazono Shrine Grand Festival will be held from Friday, May 27 to Monday, May 30, 2016. This year is considered a prosperous year, and on the 29th (Sun.), the two big portable shrines, deity-enshrined honsha mikoshi and raiden mikoshi, will be carried along the Yasukuni Dori, Shinjuku Dori, and Meiji Dori Streets. Stalls that sell yakisoba noodles, takoyaki octopus dumplings, and ikayaki grilled squids will start opening towards the evening of the 27th, and the portable shrines of neighborhood associations near the shrine will be carried around the town on the 28th. The town gets crowded with many visitors every year, so you need to be careful when joining the crowd to watch the portable shrines being carried along.
Appreciate the traditional entertainment at Meiji Shrine Spring Grand Festival.
The Meiji Shrine was built in 1920 and enshrines Emperor Meiji and Empress Dowager Shoken. While being in the center of the city, it is well known as a rejuvenating spot full of nature. In its Spring Grand Festival, which will be held from Friday, April 29 to Tuesday, May 3, 2016, various worshiping rituals will take place as they do every year. During this period, bugaku court music and dances and noh and kyogen theaters will be dedicated to the shrine by the best of the leading Japanese traditional entertainment artists on the stage in front of the shrine hall. Anyone can appreciate the dedication performances, so taking this chance to touch on the Japanese traditional culture is highly recommended. Also, many flowers bloom in the precincts from spring to early summer, so you can enjoy strolling in nature as well.
The Yokohama Parade held in the port city
The Yokohama Parade is an event that commemorates the opening of the Port of Yokohama in Yokohama City, Kanagawa. On May 3 (Tue.), marching bands and decorated floats parade the Yokohama Port area, starting from the Yamashita Park. Particularly, a sub-parade, the Yokohama Kawaii Parade, is worth seeing. A group of 300 people puts on their costumes with the theme of Japanese pop culture that includes anime, games, fashion, and cosplay walks around the port city of Yokohama. In the Yamashita Park, street performances, cosplay photo-shooting sessions, and stage events will be held during the four-day period from May 3 (Tue.) to May 6 (Fri.). The parade starts in front of the Yamashita Park.
Otsuka Spring Rose Festival
The Otsuka Spring Rose Festival will be held on May 8 (Sun.) through May 22 (Sun.). Along the streetcar railway from the Otsukaeki-mae Stop to the Mukohara Stop on the Toden Arakawa Line, many blooming roses can be seen during the rose festival period. There are about 700 roses in 500 species planted, and many people visit the place to enjoy viewing roses every year. Only two streetcar lines are left in Tokyo, so it might be interesting to take a photo of roses with the streetcar in a single shot.
Festival of Rose 春の大塚バラまつり
- Address 3-33-1, Minamiotsuka, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 170-0005, Japan
Design Festa—a big art event
The Design Festa, which will be held on Saturday, May 14, and Sunday, May 15, 2016, is an art event of the largest scale in Asia. Original artworks created by a total of more than 10,000 artists and creators in various genres that include music, paintings, movies, products, fashion, handicrafts, photos, dolls, and performing art are to be shown at the event. There is an area where you can purchase accessories, such as earrings and necklaces, and other products; the works of popular creators may sometimes be sold out quickly. This event is getting popular among Japanese young people as you can see stage performances and shows.
INTERNATIONAL ART EVENT DESEIGN FESTA vol.43 デザインフェスタ vol.43
- Address 3-11-1, Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo, 135-0063, Japan
Savory Thai Food at the Thai Festival
The Thai Festival is hosted by the Royal Thai Embassy to promote Thai culture and traditions as well as to familiarize the people with Thai food. Among the foreign festivals held in Japan, this is one of the largest in scale, and 360,000 people join this festival every year. Thai food stalls receive a particular popularity. Over 60 restaurants gather for the event, and each restaurant serves its specialty dishes, such as Thai curry, yakisoba noodles, or fried rice. Be prepared to stand in a long line at all stalls. It is difficult to be seated at tables, so it would be convenient to bring a mat or a large plastic bag with you so that you can sit on it and enjoy the food. The festival will be held on May 14 (Saturday) and May 15 (Sunday) this year.
(C) ROYAL THAI EMBASSY
Thai Festival タイフェスティバル
- Address 2-1,Jinnan, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 151-0053, Japan