Happy New Year! Here is a list of events & festivals happening in & around Tokyo this month. I left a number of events off the list as many websites have not yet updated their event dates for 2019. I will be updating this list as I learn of new dates/times. Please check it periodically for new information.
Currently – Feb 14 Caretta Illuminations, Shiodome, Minato Ward, Tokyo. A ‘Princess Story’ theme inspired by Disney and Pixar films like ‘Tangled’ and ‘Frozen’. From 5pm each evening. Access: A short walk from Shiodome or Shimbashi Station.
1/1-2 Takasaki Daruma Ichi, first fair of the year. Many open air stalls selling Daruma, food, drinks,… are set up & various performances – including Japanese dance, Taiko drumming, and Shamisen are held during the festival period from 10:00-16:00, along Eki-mae Street. Access: JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line to Takasaki Station (West Exit). http://takasaki-darumaichi.com
1/2 Kotobuki Lion Dance Performance, Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. 12:00-12:20, 2F lobby, free. Access: Short walk from Shibuya Station.
1/1-4 Yasukuni Jinja Nento Gyoji, Yasukuni Shrine, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. New Year’s ceremonies and entertainment. Key events: 1/1 Maibayashi performance to honor deities. 1/1-1/5 special exhibition of flower offerings. 1/3 Traditional archery ritual in which 2 teams of archers shoot at targets. Access: Tokyo Metro Tozai, Hanzomon Line or Tori Shinjuku Subway Line to Kudanshita Sta., exit #1, then walk 5 minutes. https://www.yasukuni.or.jp/english/festivals.htmld
1/2 Kokyo Ippan Sanga, Imperial Palace, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. New Year’s Congratulatory Visit to see the Imperial Family. The public are allowed to cross the Nijubashi Bridge on this special occasion. The Imperial Family are scheduled to appear on the balcony of the Chowa-den Hall to greet visitors at: 10:10 / 11:00 / 11:50 / 13:30 /14:20. Access: Chiyoda Line to Nijubashi-Mae Station and then walk 3 minutes. http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/e-event/sanga01.html
1/2-3 Hojojutsu Jitsuen, Hamarikyu Garden, Chuo Ward, Tokyo. Demonstration of Japanese traditional falconry. At 11:00 & 14:00. Admission to the garden is 300 yen. If it rains, the event will be canceled. Other events scheduled include aikido demonstrations, New Year’s games, etc. Access: 1). Toei Oedo Subway Line to Shiodome Station or Tsukijishijo Station, then walk 7 minutes. 2). JR Yamanote Line to Shimbashi Station and then walk 12 minutes. 3). Ginza Line or Toei Asakusa Subway Line to Shimbashi Staiton and then walk 12 minutes.
1/3 Hatsu Daishi / Daruma Ichi, Kawagoe Daishi Temple & others, Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture. First fair of the year. Many open-air stalls selling daruma are set up in and around the temple. From sunrise to sunset. Access: Hon-Kawagoe / Kawagoeshi / Kawagoe Stations, then walk 20 minutes.
1/5 Joma-Shinji, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Archery ritual in traditional attire. From 10:00. Access: JR Yokosuka Line to Kamakura Station (East Exit). Then walk 10 minutes. http://www.tsurugaoka-hachimangu.jp
1/6 Dezome-shiki, a New Year’s event presented by the Tokyo Metropolitan Fire Brigade at the Tokyo Big Sight, Koto Ward. A mass display of the high-tech fire-fighting equipments is held, and thrilling acrobatics are demonstrated by Hikeshi, firefighters of Edo Firemanship Preservation Association. 9:30am – 11:50am. Access (1) The Yurikamome Line from Shimbashi Sta. to Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon Sta., and then walk 3 min (2) The Tokyo Rinkai Kosoku Railway Rinkai Line from Shin-Kiba Sta. to Kokusai-Tenjijo Sta., and then walk 7 min. http://www.tfd.metro.tokyo.jp/inf/h30/09/dezome/dezome.html
2nd Week of January to Early March, Atami Baien Ume Matsuri, Atami City, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture – Japanese Plum/Apricot Festival. There are about 470 Japanese plum/apricot trees of 60 species blooming in the garden. Various entertainment is scheduled during the festival. Access: (1) JR Ito Line to Kinomiya Sta., and then walk 10 min. (2) JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Atami Sta. From there, take bus (for Ainohara-Danchi or Baien) to Baien Bus Stop (15 min.)
1/9 Maebashi Hatsuichi Matsuri, First fair of the year, along Honmachi-dori, Hachimangu Shrine, etc., Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture. Main events: 10:00-11:15 Otakiage (ceremony of burning old Daruma), 10:00-21:30 Open-air stalls are set up along Honmachi-dori, 10:30-11:30 Mikoshi (portable shrine) parade from shrine to Karimiya (mikoshi ‘resting place’). Access: JR Joetsu Shinkansen to Takasaki Station. Then take JR Ryomo Line to Maebashi Station (North Exit), then walk 10 minutes. http://www.maebashi-cvb.com/english/events/06.htm
1/11-20 Furusato Matsuri (Hometown Festival), Tokyo Dome, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo. The annual event is a chance for the residents of Japan’s other prefectures to dazzle Tokyoites with their region’s unique culture and its food. After you’ve sampled enough specialities at the food stalls, sit back and watch recreations of up to 20 popular regional festivals including Aomori’s Nebuta Matsuri and the Akita Kanto Matsuri, or cheer on your favourite at the costume character dance contest. Access: Short walk from Kasuga, Korakuen, or Suidobashi Station. https://www.tokyo-dome.co.jp/furusato/
1/12 Ome Daruma Ichi, a fair selling Dharma dolls, in Ome, on the outskirts of Tokyo, from 13:00 – 20:00. About 300 open-air stalls selling Daruma (Dharma dolls), food, potted plants and the like are set up along the Kyu-Ome-Kaido street. Access: The JR Ome Line to Ome Sta.
1/13 Kanchu Suiyoku, Teppozu Inari Shrine, Chuo Ward, Tokyo. Midwinter bathing, a purification ceremony. Men wearing only loincloths are purified first by priest’s prayer and then again when they enter into the icy water in a big tank on the grounds of the shrine. From 11:00. Access: 1). HIbiya Line or JR Keiko Line to Hatchobori Station, and then walk 5 minutes. 2). Yurakucho Line to Shintomichi Station and then walk 10 minutes.
1/13-27 O-Zumo Hatsu Basho, the first Grand Sumo Tournament of the year at Ryogoku Kokugikan Hall, Sumida-ku. Dohyo-iri (the ring-entering ceremony) by Yokozuna (grand champion) takes place around 15:40 daily. Then the main bouts by Maku-uchi (upper-rank Sumo wrestlers) start. Advance tickets are sold at Ryogoku Kokugikan Hall, Ticket Pia, convenience stores, etc. Unreserved-seat tickets are sold on the day at the Kokugikan Hall from 7:45am every day during the tournament period, on a first-come, first-served basis. The number of the tickets is limited to 350 daily. Access: The JR Sobu Line or the Toei Oedo Subway Line to Ryogoku Sta. (E 12), and then walk 5 min.
1/14 Hashigonori (traditional acrobatics performed at the top of a six meter tall ladder), Ikegami Honmonji Temple, Ota Ward, Tokyo. From 13:00 – 14:30. *Afterward, join a free guided tour (in English) of the temple compound from 14:30 – 15:30. To participate, sign-up at the blue tent before 14:30. Access: Asakusa Line to Nishi-Magome Station, then walk 12 minutes. For more information: https://www.otacitytourguide.tokyo
1/15-16 Setagaya Boro Ichi, Flea Market on Boro Ichi-dori Street, Setagaya-ku, features many open-air stalls selling foods, clothes, potted plants, antiques, etc. from 9:00-20:00 on both days. On the 15th from 11:00 – a Daikan Gyoretsu (parade of people in Edo-era dress) starts from Setagaya Daikanyashiki. Access (1) Take a bus for Kamimachi or Seijo-Gakuen from Shibuya Sta. (South Exit), and then get off at Kamimachi Bus Stop (2) Tokyu Setagaya Line to Setagaya Sta. or Kamimachi Sta.
1/16 Kagura-hajime, at the main hall of Kanda Myojin Shrine, Chiyoda-ku. Dai-dai Kagura , Shinto dance with music of drums, flutes and other musical instruments is performed from 15:00. Access: The JR Chuo, Sobu Line or the Marunouchi Subway Line to Ochanomizu Sta. (M 20), and then walk 5 min.
1/18-20 & 25-27 Nunohaku in Tokyo, Pario Machida, Machida, Tokyo. A textile fair – at ‘Sunny Winter Weave’ 18-20, browse through a vast selection of seasonal fabric and knit goods. The following week, ‘Waiting for Spring’ fair 25-27. Accessories, textiles and interiors goods for sale. Access: Short walk from Machida Station.
1/19-3/17 Corona Winter Sauna, Shimokitazawa Cage, Shimokitazawa, Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. Shimokitazawa Cage is partnering with Corona to recreate a Finnish bathing experience – a sauna tent plus two cold baths. (Shimokitazawa Cage is an outdoor space under the train tracks, which hosts a rotating series of events including flea markets, music performances etc.). Beside the sauna area are Asian food stalls & Corona beers. You can even take a beer with you into the sauna. Bathing suits required. 3500 on weekends, 3000 on weekdays. http://sauna.s-cage.com
1/20-21 Hatsu Daishi, first fair of the year at Kawasaki Daishi Temple, Kawasaki, Kanagawa Pref. Open- air stalls selling Daruma (Dharma dolls) are set up from 9:00. Access: The Keihin Kyuko Line to Keikyu Kawasaki Sta. From there, the Keihin Kyuko Daishi Line to Kawasaki Daishi Sta.
1/24-25 Usokae-Shinji, Bullfinch exchange ritual of Kameido Tenjin Shrine, Koto-ku. Bullfinches, which are called “Uso ” in Japanese, are regarded as symbols of good luck. People exchange old carved wooden bullfinches for new ones. Daily between 9:00-16:00 Kasai-Bayashi (Japanese festival music) and Sato-Kagura (Shinto dance with music) is performed at Kagura-den Hall. Access: JR Sobu Line to Kameido Sta., then walk 15 min.
1/24-30 Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival 2019, Tokyo Dome, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo. Even those not interested in quilting will be impressed with these works of art! 9:30-18:00 (last entry 30 minutes prior to closing). The festival opens at 11:00 on the first day, and closes at 17:00 on the final day. 2100 yen (1900 in advance). Access: A short walk from Suidobashi, Korakuen, and Kasuga Stations.
1/26-27 Daikoku Matsuri, Kanda Myojin Shrine, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. On 26th, from 10:00, there will be a purification ritual (people coming of age pour icy water over themselves). On 27th, from 12:00, Hocho-shiki will take place (rite or traditional art of skillfully slicing a large carp using a Japanese knife and chopsticks, without touching the fish with hands). Access: 5 minute walk from Ochanomizu Station or Shin-Ochanomizu Station. 7 minute walk from Akihabara Station. https://www.kandamyoujin.or.jp/event/detail/?id=2
1/27-3/24 Tsubaki Matsuri, Oshima Island, Tokyo. Camelia festival. Various species of camelia are in bloom during the festival period. Daily from 9:30-15:30 Oshima locals perform at Tsubaki Plaza. There is also a night festival (Yomatsuri) in the passenger waiting room in Motomachi Port. Access: 1) Yurikamome Monorail Line to Takeshiba Station, then walk to Takeshiba Pier. From there, take Tokai Kisen ferry boat (8 hours) or hydrofoil (1hr. 45min) to Oshima Island. 2) From Haneda Airport, take airplane (30 minutes).
1/28 Daruma Ichi, fair for Dharma at Takahata Fudoson Temple, Hino, on the outskirts of Tokyo. Many stalls are set up from sunrise to sunset, selling Daruma dolls which attract many people seeking good luck in the year ahead. Chigo-Gyoretsu , a parade of children in fancy attire is scheduled in the precincts from 14:00. Access: Keio Line to Takahata Fudo Sta., and then walk 5 min. https://www.takahatafudoson.or.jp