MAY: Festivals + Events

Click on Tell me more to read about the event, then use the search term below to find out the exact dates and times for the year you’ll be there.

Childrens’ Day (formerly Boys’ Day)

In the week leading up to May 5 – the holiday that used to be known as Boys’ Day (now called Childrens’ Day) – koi nobori fish flags were flown by families with sons, in the hope that they’d grow up strong enough to climb the waterfall and become a dragon, like the legendary carp. You can see them all over, but there’s an especially nice display at Tokyo Tower

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Search term: Tokyo Tower koi nobori,

Spring Sumo Tournament

The Tokyo spring tournament runs for 14 days in May. Everyone should see it at least once!

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Search term: spring sumo tournament Tokyo

Design Festa

From eerily realistic felted cat head pins to zombie matryoshika nesting dolls, the 10,000 artists offering handcrafted goods at Design Festa will make your head spin. Well worth a visit, if you’re in town! Lots more photos of weird and wonderful goods for sale in the link

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Search terms: Design Festa

Tokyo Art Fair

Beautiful, strange, and always thought provoking, the Tokyo Art Fair is worth a visit, because emerging Japanese artists show here first

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Sanja Matsuri

The Sanja Matsuri festival in Asakusa is one of the biggest, rowdiest three-day extravaganzas you see in Tokyo all year. An endless number of portable shrines are paraded through the streets, with each team trying to outdo the next.

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Search term: Sanja matsuri Asakusa

Wisteria Festivals

If you didn’t think that wisteria could ever rival the cherry blossoms, think again. In the first week of May, there are spectacular displays in and around Tokyo.

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You can search for more detailed information on these by Googling the names in bold, or searching for them on Tokyo Cheapo or TimeOut Tokyo, which I think have the most reliable info for events that change dates from year to year.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

A young woman dressed as a Gothic Lolita is found dead in a car with two strangers at the local shrine. But the more Yumi Hata learns about her friend’s death, the more she’s convinced it was murder…read more