It’s Sunday afternoon, and your head is reeling from all the sightseeing you’ve been doing. But you probably don’t want to waste a minute of your precious time in Japan merely relaxing, so I’ve got the perfect solution! Let me introduce you to some of my friends as we stroll around Yoyogi Park.

Six days of the week, Yoyogi Park is a peaceful sea of green in the very heart of Tokyo, a place to walk your dog and picnic…


…but on Sunday it turns into the best free show in Japan.


Typical Yoyogi Park shenanigans.

Right outside the gate, let’s stop and watch the rival rockabilly clubs as they dance their hearts out to classic 50s rock & roll.

In spring they wear their club t-shirts, in winter they have black leather jackets.

In spring they wear their club t-shirts, in winter they have black leather jackets.

Next, let me introduce you to Hiroyuki Ootomo, who performs traditional one-man comic storytelling (rakugo). In rakugo, one actor plays every part, changing his voice and body language for each character. He’s a Japanese actor who made it his mission to introduce this uniquely Japanese entertainment to people outside Japan, so he learned to perform some of the most famous stories in both Japanese and English. Most visitors never get to see rakugo performed at all, let alone in a language we can understand! It’s a rare opportunity, so let’s ask him to perform one of my favorites!

This story is called "Scary Bean Buns"!

This is from a story called “Scary Bean Buns”!

Hey look! The Husky Club is here, and this time they’re dressed up like Japanese schoolgirls!


About fifteen of these beauties turn up around every holiday with their owners in tow, dressed up in different outfits. I snapped them on Girls’ Day wearing kimonos, but one of the greatest regrets of my life is that I didn’t have my camera with me when they all came as caped superheros for Halloween.

Speaking of amazing dogs, here’s the famous skateboarding beagle.


This skate betty can actually pushes off and hop on, all the way through the park.

Let’s go over and see who’s on the slackline. Why don’t you try it? Come on – my friends Kida-san or Taiyo-san will help you.


Why is slackline so much harder than Kida-san makes it look? (><)


Check out the contact jugglers. Can you imagine how many hours of practice it took to be able to do that stuff?

The sun is finally going down, and it’s turning into my favorite time of day, here in the park.


People are heading home, but let’s stay a little longer because…


…after dark, the fountains put on a light show.


Nearby destinations: Harajuku, IkebukuroJapan Traditional Craft Center, Meiji ShrineOdaibaOedo Onsen, Roppongi, ShibuyaShimo-kitazawaShinjuku

Jonelle Patrick is the author of the Only In Tokyo mystery series, published by Penguin/Intermix.


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