Many Japanese and tourists alike visit Sensoji Temple every year. But the Kinryu no Mai (golden dragon dance) is a special performance to enjoy if you can make it there on March 18th.
That same day in 628, two fisherman brothers fished a Buddhist statue out of the Sumida River. The village chief used this statue, which turned out to be one of the Bodhisattva Kannon, to found Sensoji. Or so the legend goes. And we celebrate the temple’s founding with this dance because Kannon took the form of a golden dragon when descending from Heaven.
Want even more backstory and secret tips about the event? Check out our feature article on it here.
The Oyama Tofu Festival is a little out of the way: a 1-hour train from Shinjuku to Isehara on the Odakyu-Odawara Line. Then you need to catch a 20-minute bus to the festival venue in Oyama. But at the end of the journey is the ultimate tofu eating experience.
Highlights include a Wanko Tofu speed eating contest, which you can watch via the link below. You can even make it yourself, or just buy it as usual in various shops around the festival. There’s also a giant pot, 4 meters in diameter, where you can see (and eat, obviously) the tofu made inside.
The event runs from 10am until 4pm on Saturday and from 10am until 3pm on Sunday.
St. Patrick’s Day in Tokyo is celebrated every year in two parts. The first part is an Irish cultural festival at Yoyogi Park—the official site outlines the day as including: traditional musical and dance performances, Irish sports (hurling, perhaps?), and an Irish gourmet booth where you can try Irish stout, stew and steamed oysters.
The second part, the annual St.Patrick’s Day Parade, takes place Sunday along Omotesando Street and starts at 1:00pm.
Usually the parade comes down the hill from Omotesando towards Meijijingu-mae Station on the Gyre/Dior Building side of the road and then does a U-turn at the Omotesando/Meiji Dori intersection before heading back up the Omotesando Hills side of the same street.
A relatively small but regular antique fair, this event has around 25-30 stalls and is on almost every Sunday (aside from those with festivals or bad weather). Roughly translated as Hanazono Shrine Blue Sky Antique Fair, it definitely gives a hint about the preferred weather conditions. It runs from sunrise to sunset, but most stalls close around 3pm.
Focusing on smaller items, it does extend to small pieces of furniture and has a less intense vibe than the bigger markets. Check the calendar to confirm before attending (in Japanese, but Google Translate on Chrome will work).
342 m from Shinjuku-sanchōme Station Fukutoshin Line (C13)Marunouchi Line (M9)Shinjuku Line (S2) 0.5 km from Seibushinjuku Station Seibu Shinjuku Line (SS1) 0.5 km from Higashi-shinjuku Station Fukutoshin Line (C12)Oedo Line (E2)
One of Tokyo’s biggest and most frequent flea markets, this event takes place over many—if not all—weekends a month. Also known as the Tokyo City Flea Market, it can feature up to 600 (!) vendors on a busy day, making it a great place to hunt for bargains.
Most vendors sell used clothes simply laid out in piles on a tarp, but some have Japanese antiques, household goods or secondhand electronics on offer. You can definitely bargain at this market, as prices suggested by the mainly private sellers are flexible. There are also a number of food stalls. While the official opening hours are until 2:30-3pm, sellers often start wrapping things up around noon, so make sure to come early.
On weekends when this market isn’t happening, there are often other, smaller markets on the go.
Update: This flea market will officially stop running in March, 2019. The market on March 16-17 will be the final instalment.
A monthly Tokyo flea market that’s held in the 55 Hiroba square outside the Shinjuku Mitsui Building. There are mostly small trinkets, household goods and used clothes for sale. It’s mainly private sellers, so those looking for amazing arts and crafts might be a bit disappointed.
Come early—the later it gets, the less there will be there to sift through, as sellers start wrapping up. And on anything that could be considered a bad-weather day (too hot, too cold, might rain but is actually not raining … ), there won’t be much happening. There aren’t any entertainment or food stalls here.