April event: The best places to see schools of fluttering fish flags in Tokyo

🎏 Unexpectedly stumbling across a whole bunch of koi nobori fluttering in the wind is one of Japan’s great delights, but if you’d rather not be saying “Hey, wait, why didn’t I know about those?” here’s where to see the best ones in Tokyo!

Video of koi nobori display at Tokyo Tower
These are the ones at Tokyo Tower

Because Children’s Day is coming up on May 5th, the month before is the season to spot ’em. This holiday used to be known as Boys’ Day, and koi nobori were only flown outside the homes with sons, but now that it’s been expanded to Childrens’ Day, parents hope that all their children will grow up to be like the carp that legendarily climbed a waterfall to become a dragon.

Japanese print of two carp climbing a waterfall
(Psst, I bought this fabulous print of the carp climbing the waterfall at the Origami Center for less than ¥1000!)

Here are the best places to see delightful numbers of koi nobori swimming through the Tokyo sky:

Tokyo Tower in Kamiya-chō

Koi nobori fish flags flying at Tokyo Tower
Not only do they have a magnificent flagpole of fish…
Big display of koi nobori fish flags flying at Tokyo Tower
…there’s a whole colorful school right outside the entrance
Koi nobori fish flags flying at Tokyo Tower
When the breeze blows, they dance and “swim”
Koi nobori fish flags flying at Tokyo tower at night
They’re especially great at night

Dates: March 27 – May 6 (2020)

Hours: Always open, lit up every day from 17:00 to 23:00

Admission: Free

MAP

Kameido shopping street in Kameido

Koi nobori fish flags on Kameido shopping street

Dates: April 28 – May 5 (2020)

Hours: Always open, every day

Admission: Free

Map showing location of Kameido shopping street

Nishiarai-daishi temple at Daishi-mae

Koi nobori fish flags flying at Nishiarai-daishi temple

Dates: The month of April through May 5

Hours: Always open, every day

Admission: Free

MAP

Sensō-ji temple in Asakusa

Koi nobori fish flags flying at Senko-ji temple in Asakusa

Dates: The month of April through May 5

Hours: Always open, every day

Admission: Free

MAP

The famous peeing statue at Hamamatsu-chō Station

Koi nobori fish flags at the peeing statue on the platform at Hamamatsucho station

Dates: April 1 – May 5

Hours: Always open, every day

Admission: Free

MAP

The peeing statue is at the far end of the Shibuya-bound platform

And here are a couple of places that are unofficial, but there’s a good chance of seeing some delightfully random display:

Yoyogi Park in Harajuku

Koi nobori fish flags on a kite string at Yoyogi Park
Sundays are the best time to catch all kinds of fun stuff going on in this park.

MAP

Kawagoe shopping district in Kawagoe

Koi nobori fish flags for sale in Kawagoe
Kawagoe’s shopping district is packed with shops selling traditional Japanese stuff, but they only sell these in season (April – May 5)

Know someone who’s planning a trip to Japan? If you think they might enjoy, this, share it! Here’s the link: https://bit.ly/2Vc3hA7

And if you’d like to see thousands of koi nobori swimming in the breeze outside of Tokyo, pop over to last month’s Beyond Tokyo Japanagram feature on Tatebayashi

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Jonelle Patrick writes mystery novels set in Tokyo, the monthly Japanagram newsletter, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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