Ikebukuro came alive on Saturday October 5, 2019 with the hosting of the Enjoy Tokyo Festival: Beyond 2020. This dynamic, innovative festival brought enjoyment to the Sunshine City, making it truly reflect its name. Attendees took part in a wide range of activities, from dressing in traditional clothing from various countries and playing traditional games from abroad to trying parasports equipment and much more.
Held at numerous venues across Ikebukuro, including Green Odori, Minami-Ikebukuro Park and Ikebukuro Eki-mae, the special gala brought together a diverse crowd to celebrate international exchange and the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Carnival style parade
With a burst of color and sound, a parade kickstarted the Enjoy Tokyo Festival: Beyond 2020 as it took to the streets of Ikebukuro. From the J-Pop band Tsuku-live with their range of colorful hair to the bright hues of the traje de flamenca (flamenco outfits) of the flamenco dancers, the parade was a carnival for the eye and ear.
The Olympic and Paralympic spirit was clearly on display, with participation from all ages, genders and races. Local residents took part in the parade alongside international students wearing their national dress. Everyone was welcome to join in and be part of this exciting event looking ahead to Tokyo 2020.
Music at center stage
The center stage located in Minami-Ikebukuro Park was the hub of the festival where several live performances took place.
While enjoying a beautiful fall day, the audience was entertained by student groups such as the energetic, fun-loving Irohazaka 46 and the vibrant, J-Pop-themed Tsuku-live, both of whom received a warm welcome from the delighted audience.
An international student duo from China impressed the audience with a beautiful song and dance performance. It combined the popular anime song “Big Fish” and traditional dance moves inspired by ancient Chinese documents and myths. Though some audience members may not have been able to understand the words of the song, the duo’s feelings were felt by all.
An entire street lined with fun activities
Students from various countries offered visitors the chance to take part in activities related to their unique cultures. For example, students from Africa introduced how to play Oware, a traditional board game played in Africa and the Middle East. Fundamentally, a player has to capture more seeds than his or her opponent to win, but the exact method of play differs region by region.
Members of the Vietnamese Youth and Student Association in Japan showcased traditional outfits from northern and southern Vietnam. There was a wide range of stunning costumes, including the Ao Dai, which was particularly popular among visitors. It was a great opportunity to try on these traditional Vietnamese outfits.
Students performed in a cordoned-off area along Green Odori. All the members of the women’s college music circle called SPH mellmuse performed an energetic dance. It was impressive to see their enthusiastic singing encourage the audience to join in with the performance.
Also of note was the headline performer, the all-boy group MAXONS, who wowed the audience with their acrobatic dance routine that included back flips, handsprings and round-offs. All moves were executed flawlessly and effortlessly to rapturous applause.
International dancing performances
The audience was treated to a rare display of Vietnamese culture in Japan by the Vietnamese Youth and Student Association in Japan. The group gave flawless performances of the múa sen, múa bài bông (Lotus dance), múa mâm (Platter dance), múa nón (Hat dance) and vũ phiến (Fan dance). The changeovers were seamless and the show never stopped, with dancers emerging from the sides of the stage already having changed into their next dance costumes. It was truly a mesmerizing performance.
The sound of tapping, meanwhile, could be heard across the park as the Spanish flamenco dancers took to the main stage with their traje de flamenca (flamenco outfits) and flamenco heels. As the rhythm of the music sped up, the dancers moved their feet faster and faster with the audience watching in delight.
Local Food Market
A stroll through the market proved a great way to take in the vibrant colors and fragrances of the beautifully displayed items. There was an array of local produce as well as items of international origin, which was a joy to peruse. Visitors could not resist buying the fresh vegetables and appetizing range of homemade jams and chutneys. The friendly hawkers added to the lively atmosphere of the market as people browsed, chatted and made their purchases. There was certainly an item suited to everyone at the lovely market.
No festival would be complete without a selection of food stalls offering a wide variety of festival food—and Enjoy Tokyo Festival: beyond 2020 was no different. There were stalls offering festival foods; roast chicken was one such favorite.
There were also unique food stalls offering visitors a chance to enjoy new tastes and foodie experiences. Of note was the local version of a “cheese-dog” whose outside was coated in sugar, giving it a sweet cheesy taste. Another popular food stall was Mrs. Charlotte, the Lavender ice-cream van, which was a delicious way to cool down on the sunny day.
The festival’s location for its art exhibition was unusual as it was underground in a passage to the train station, but this location matched the unusual aspect of the art on display. There was a truly diverse mix of posters created by university students to showcase festivals. All were created in very different styles, themes and colors.
In addition to this part of the art exhibition was modern digital art projected onto the large screens. The mass of colorful colleges from an assemblage of different forms created a new image of visual art.
As the art was created at various universities across Tokyo, each exhibit on display was very individual, allowing visitors to have a truly fascinating insight into the diverse talent of the metropolis.
The chance to experience several parasports was available at the festival’s Universal Sports Experience Corner. Both adults and children used a range of parasports apparatus, from Paralympic wheelchairs to carbon-fiber running blades. Visitors to the number of stalls also tried several sports such as blind soccer. For many, it was a challenging but fun experience and a great way to understand how to play soccer using only hearing and touch.
The Universal Sports Corner also gave people the chance to find out more about the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Tokyo in 2020.
A fun day for all
The Enjoy Tokyo Festival: beyond 2020 sizzled with excitement on a warm and sunny fall day. Attendees watched on with delight as university students from across Tokyo dazzled them with music, dance and aerobatic displays. International exchange was also a hit, with visitors taking part in traditional games and activities from various countries as well as trying on traditional national dress with a smile. There were also opportunities for all to engage with parasports and find out more about Tokyo 2020.
From delicious food and drink stands to innovative art to engaging entertainment, the festival proved a fun day for all. Everyone praised the organizers for bringing such a great experience to Ikebukuro for both local residents and guests to enjoy together.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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