Grand chamberlain Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu pulled the strings behind the court of the fifth Tokugawa shogunate. When his close friend Kira Yoshinaka was attacked with a dagger by one his charges, Lord Asano of Hyogo prefecture, it was Yanagisawa who administered punishment, ordering Asano to commit seppuku, or ritual suicide, that very night.

However, protocol dictated that both parties to a quarrel receive punishment, and despite the fact Kira repeatedly humiliated the young samurai for his country bumpkin ways, the refined noble, and certified asshole, was let off the hook by his buddy.

In 1702, one year before the 47 ronin and Keanu Reeves famously enacted deathly revenge upon Kira, Yanagisawa opened Rikugien Gardens north of Tokyo. The fifth shogun, Tsunayoshi Tokugawa, loved the beautiful gardens and visited 58 times.

Stroll through Rikugien yourself this weekend, as the beautiful autumn illuminations get underway. Also take in concerts, ballets and art exhibitions held throughout Tokyo this weekend, as well as a tea ceremony workshop where you can hopefully learn better etiquette than Lord Asano.


Autumn Evening Illumination at Rikugien Gardens

Yanagisawa designed Rikugien Gardens to reflect 88 scenes from six Japanese poems, 32 of which remain. Built in the traditional tsukiyama-sensui style, Rikugien consists of a man-made lake and an artificial hill. Navigating the garden’s large network of walking trails during the illumination event is the perfect way to admire the fiery flames of autumn foliage.

Hachioji Ginkgo Festival 2018

Around 770 ginkgo trees line the Koshu Highway as it runs through Hachioji, and this weekend the ginkgo leaves turn a magnificent gold color. From food stalls to music stages, fun activities will take place under the towering golden canopies.

Caretta Shiodome Winter Illumination

Accompanied by music, this jaw-dropping electric show lights up every 15 minutes. Launching this weekend, make it a point to stop by Shiodome during your evening activities.

Jim O’Rourke: Sleep Like It’s Winter

The former Sonic Youth member, legendary musician and producer (and Tokyo resident) plays a rare, intimate show of ambient instrumental music from his latest album.

Joseph Walsh Exhibition: “RINN”

The self-taught Irish designer and furniture maker showcases intricate installations, from huge bed frames that have been sculpted into round, fluid structures, to simple white chairs twirled into ribbon-like shapes.

NNT Ballet School: Autumn Concert 2018

Students from Japan’s first theatre-affiliated training institute perform pieces from popular classical ballets including “Grand Pas de Deux,” “Bolero,” and “Cupid” arranged from the Third Act of “Don Quixote.”

Masters at Work in Japan

The house music duo of Louie Vega and Kenny Dope return to Tokyo for an unforgettable, family-friendly party. The venue consists of indoor and outdoor areas, including a kids’ area.

Teien Art Museum Tea Ceremony Workshop

Learn the gentle art of tea-making at an introductory (and English-translated) workshop led by certified instructors from the Urasenke School of Tea, one of the three historical households directly descended from the 16th-century tea master Sen no Rikyu.