The clouds are parting, the angels are singing, the fish flags are flying high, salary-people are tossing their suitcases aside, and students are jumping for joy: the long-coveted Golden Week is here!
For those who will be avoiding the jam-packed streets of Kyoto or crowded beaches of Okinawa – perhaps wisely so – Tokyo itself is full to the brim of some great events to check out and make the most of your precious vacation days. From your usual nightlife guarantees to a few unforgettable gallery exhibits, and a dash of unique once-in-a-lifetime gigs, make your Golden Week like no other.
This Weekend(er) should keep you covered over the next two weekends, before we return to our desks, renewed and ready for work (at least, that’s what we are telling ourselves). If this list still isn’t showing you what you really want, check out our full listing here before you wander off.
But the big question is, how are you spending your Golden Week?
Golden Week Specials:
What is Golden Week all about, anyway? Besides being a glorious week of no work, it’s a cluster of holidays celebrating nature, children, and “old Japan.” (There’s even a strong connection to cinema – seeing a movie during Golden Week is considered a “very Japanese thing to do,” as it harks back to the “golden days” of escaping the heat into a cool theater to see all of the new releases, which came from overseas and showcased during spring break.) One of the most notable visuals of Golden Week, though, are all of the koinobori (fish banners) you see flying all over the city. See the “mecca” of them over at Tokyo Tower and dive into a bit of history and celebration with the rest of the country.
To ensure a classier Golden Week, this is one way to go! This luxury event over in Ginza is more refined and glitzier than a traditional picnic in Yoyogi, but comes with a price. The private garden experience is totally Pinterest-worthy, so we’re already sold on it. Reserve your spot ASAP!
An epic 4-city, 11-venue, 40+ performance night dedicated to “Shattering Stigma” is the most recent event organized by mental health advocate TELL. Read more about the movement and mission of their 18th Band Night, pick out the place nearest to you, and donate to the cause, doing your part to provide support to those suffering from mental health crises.
“Celebration: Handmade is Gorgeous.” All unique, hand-crafted, original crafts and items that you see from the 500 artists and vendors will be available to take home! This ultimate artistic showcase of international and Japanese talent will blow your mind. Find something that matches your living room, or a perfect gift for Mother’s Day.
If you’re looking to get into the spirit of Rainbow Pride, starting this weekend, then look no further than this “Starter” event! Celebrating all things LGBT, this open-armed party is going to be colorful and full of love.
Throughout the following week, Tokyo Rainbow Pride will be hosting a series of events at local parks and community centers. Check the link for a full list and how you can participate or find the nearest party to go to! This is a great time to show your support and advocate for full rights.
Maybe some of you are dreading Golden Week – be it the crowds, social events, or prices – and are looking to stay in and beat that pesky level in the video game you haven’t finished yet. A small gallery in Setagaya agrees with you! That’s why they’re hosting a slumber party for video game “nerds” to come in their pajamas, and snack and enjoy light drinking as they compete in Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, and Street Fighter on a number of giant TVs. Sign us up…
Cheer on the loudest and most charismatic of Tokyo’s drag queens at their upcoming Closet Ball! Get ready to read and be read at this event, filled with comedy, singing, lip-syncing, contest, burlesque, and tons more in the unexpected realm. The laugh-your-behind-off event is a must for all who want to try something different on their night out. The best part? Free cover!
Take your night out up a notch and head out to sea for this ride through Tokyo Bay on a boat flooded with neon lights, flowing drinks, and DJs turning tables. Bring your regular crowd with you and make a whole night of it, with the all-glass boat walls revealing the glittering skylines of Tokyo, Yokohama, and Odaiba.
For a slightly darker twist on your usual go-tos in Tokyo, slip on something a little more grungy, a little more punk, a little more … more and step over to the themed Christon Cafe for a late-late-late night of rock music, costumes, and the weird. Things will get a little kooky, but the heart of the event is fashion, music, and themes that are deeply “underground Japanese.” A night of thrills and frills for all to try out!
The weekend will be topped off with an evening of laughter spurred by the Pirates of Tokyo Bay comedy group. What the Dickens is hosting the improv comedy night; support your favorite local comedians, and watch a “Whose Line is it Anyway” style of show, in both Japanese and English. There’s no reason to miss this one!
Join Temple students and film festival enthusiasts at the top floors of Quartz Gallery for a series of short movies produced in-class this past season. Snacks, drinks, and plenty of couches will be provided to make it the ultimate theater experience. Bring your friends or a date catch a flick or two during sunset after a long day of sleeping in and picnic-ing at Yoyogi Park.
In the mood for some daytime dancing and ethnic food? Yoyogi Park, the universal space for all things international and festive, will be brimming with people getting their groove on and enjoying Latin American cuisine. Mingle and dance throughout the afternoon! A perfect event to change up your day and grab a bite to eat out on the soft grass.
You’ll probably want to be careful Googling this event. Despite the name, this event looks to be a pretty intense – albeit, a little chaotic – and quite an immersive experience. Learn about the history of samurai through a short lecture, film, food, trying on costumes, practicing sword-fighting, and watching demonstrations. Kids are welcome, but pint-sized costumes are unavailable, unfortunately. History buffs shouldn’t miss this chance to learn about shoguns and samurai lives!
Across the Bay at Odaiba:
All during Golden Week, the whole family is welcome to dance, try food, and experience a more laid-back “beach life” without having to go to the crowded shores of Kamakura (or Hawaii!). A market will be present, too, if your Mother would appreciate something tropical for the special day coming up.
Immerse in a Central-and-South American event celebrating one of the biggest holidays of the year: Cinco de Mayo! Actually happening from the 3rd-5th, the fun doesn’t stop out at the park across the bay. Sample tequilas and great dishes from a number of countries, and enjoy local music. Lay out in the park and spend the evening surrounded by great energy until the last train.
It’s definitely not October, but organizers just really wanted to compete with Cinco de Mayo and Hawaii, and bring in the big guns. If the crowds are getting to you, swing by for a tall glass of the “good stuff” and a few German-inspired side dishes. This one may get rowdy, but that’s all part of the fun!
A Few Recurring Events:
Share the magic of Pixar’s classic animations with the whole family at the gallery focusing on the entire creative process. Some of their films, famously Finding Nemo, took nearly a decade of sketching, animating, voicing, rendering, and bringing to life. Admire the early ideas for Toy Story, and take a look at behind-the-scenes of how they developed Wall-E. For being only three decades old, Pixar already has given plenty to the world when it comes to animated films; take a closer look here.
If you’re looking to get into the spirit of Rainbow Pride awaiting us from April 29th, get a head-start and check out some predominantly LGBT art, short films, and presentations over at Mori Art Museum. The exhibit is focused on how media portrays members of the community, and how they are taking their voices back, and owning their bodies.
Another one for the kiddos: the more Jurassic-y world of science and dinosaurs is on display at The Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno! The exhibit is featuring bones, artifacts, and films depicting life when humans hadn’t sprung up out of the ground quite yet. The whole family will love speaking with archeologists and experts on all things saurian.
Still haven’t seen it? Catch the show this Golden Week out at Big Top in Odaiba. Bring the whole family with you to enjoy the stunning 40-strong troupe flying through the air and performing acts of flexibility anyone would’ve been hard-pressed to dream up alone. The internationally-acclaimed show is pushing the boundaries of human form, athleticism, and technology in a stage performance. Explore the evolution of mankind, and change the way you see the circus with “Totem.”
Looking for a new piece to hang in the bedroom or dining room? Kashima Arts is opening their gallery doors to buyers interested in owning minimalistic and traditional pieces of Japanese art. Browse the spring-themed pieces, and maybe take one home for yourself…but do it fast! It closes out during Golden Week.
Modern artist and photographer Murakami, based in Paris, created her pieces using one hundred year-old film plates and techniques, bringing back the autochrome photography color process in her own right and way. Take a look at the process and unusual pieces this weekend for something different and unlike your typical exhibition. It wraps up at the end of Golden Week, so don’t delay on checking this one out!
Would you like to see your event, fundraiser, show, or exhibit listed here? It’s easy! Email details and photos, along with your name and contact to [email protected]