“Though my body may decay on the island of Ezo, my spirit guards my lord in the East.” Samurai warrior Hijikata Toshizo wrote his death poem in 1869 during the Battle of Hakodate, the final skirmish of the Boshin War. Toshizo was leader of the Shinsengumi, an army of masterless samurai trained in Edo and devoted to defending the Tokugawa Shogunate from the forces of the Meiji Government.
Known as the demon commander, Toshizo was shot dead in that doomed battle at Hokkaido, then known as Ezo. His death poem was delivered to his family in his native Hino in western Tokyo. The annual Hino Shinsengumi Festival held this weekend celebrates the roots of Japan’s last samurai army and the local hero.
Other dignified events happening in Tokyo this weekend include film festivals, Thai festivals, Cinco de Mayo festivals and idiot festivals.
Hijikata Toshizo’s samurai sword was considered one of the finest works of 11th-generation swordsmith Aizu Kanesada. The Shinsengumi Contest held on Saturday decides which historical impersonator will act as Toshizo in Sunday’s parade, and receive a replica of his venerated sword.
Damah is the Hebrew word for “metaphor” or “parable,” and as such this two-day film festival in Shimokitazawa places special value on themes that explore the transcendent, the struggle and the awe of the spiritual journey.
Discover delicious Thai cuisine and sit back and enjoy live entertainment and stage performances at Yoyogi Park with acts ranging from traditional dance and kickboxing demonstrations to Thai idol girl group BNK48.
This unique Tokyo charity challenge sees small teams attempt to visit every station on the JR Yamanote line on foot within a 12-hour time limit. Team registration is already complete, but spectators are invited to cheer on the participants at the start/finish line at the Tokyo Tokia Building near Tokyo Station.
Held at Arakawa for the first time, celebrate the May 5 holiday a few days late with Mexican and South American flavors, cervezas, tropical cocktails and live entertainment.
The Akabane Baka (Idiot) Matsuri began as an April Fool’s tradition in the 1950s and over the years evolved into a two-day festival celebrating local spirit. The festival highlight is the grand idiot parade, which takes places from 12:00 on Sunday.
Gustav Klimt, The Three Ages, 1905, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome
The largest display of the Austrian painter’s works ever held in Japan, this exhibition at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum commemorates the centennial of the artist’s death. Best known for his eroticism, sensuality and portraits of women, Klimt’s paintings, murals and sketches make up an impressive legacy that is revered around the world.
Three smart speakers, including University of Tokyo postdoctoral researcher John Livingston who helped discover 44 planets, wow a curious crowd.
Tokyo-based indie rock outfit Merry Christmas gives one last hurrah Saturday night at Shibuya Home before part of the band relocates to the UK.
Hunt for some bargains from a selection of secondhand English books, clothes, children’s toys and household items at the American Embassy community’s annual clearout sale.
Feature image: Takahata Fudoson Kongo Temple, Hino | Shutterstock