10 Events and Things to Do in Tokyo in May 2024

Sanja Matsuri Seasonal Events
Yoshikazu TAKADA from Tokyo, Japan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture, and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.

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In May, the cold weather finally eases away and Tokyo welcomes the beautiful season of fresh greenery. When you visit at this time of year, the cherry blossoms are falling, the trees are lush and fresh, and pleasant sunshine fills the city. The streets of Tokyo will be filled with traditional festivals and modern entertainment, offering fascinating experiences for foreign visitors to Japan. For example, you can wear a traditional yukata and enjoy a festival, or participate in a flower-loving festival that is at its peak. This is the perfect time to visit tourist attractions and local hidden gems. In this article, we will introduce the best events and activities we recommend when you visit Tokyo in May.

1. Sanja Matsuri

Sanja matsuri
View_of_mikoshi_from_sensoji_Sanja_Matsuri_2006-2.jpg, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Via Wikimedia Commons

Sanja Matsuri, one of Japan’s representative traditional festivals, is held over three days on the third Saturday in May at Asakusa Shrine. The main event of the festival is the parade of the portable shrines, which is a magnificent and spectacular event that retains the essence of the Edo period. The grandeur of the festival is known as one of the best festivals in Japan, attracting some 1.8 million people. During the festival, many food stalls line the grounds of Senso-ji Temple. There, visitors can enjoy gourmet foods made from fresh local ingredients and traditional Japanese treats. Touring the food stalls is one of the attractions of the Sanja Matsuri. Along with the gorgeous festival atmosphere, you are sure to satisfy both your stomach and your heart.

Official Website: Sanja Matsuri

2. Kanda Matsuri

kanda-matsuri-mikoshi

Kanda Festival is one of the most prominent festivals in Japan and is known as one of the “Three Great Festivals of Japan” and “Three Great Festivals of Edo”. The festival, which attracts more than 300,000 visitors each year, is held at Kanda Myojin Shrine and features a great portable shrine competition and a gorgeous parade. The lively shouts of the festival entertain not only the locals but also many visitors. The charm of Kanda Matsuri lies in its powerful portable shrine competitions and spectacular parades. The festival’s blend of sacred atmosphere and liveliness is sure to be an unforgettable experience for visitors to Japan.

Official Website: Kanda Matsuri (Only in Japanese) 

3. Grand Sumo Tournament

Sumo, the National sport of Japan and one of the most iconic aspects of its traditions, boasts a history of more than 1,500 years. Held four times a year in spring, summer, fall, and winter, the Sumo Tournament is one of the most notable events on the Japanese sports scene. Sumo wrestlers are known for their overwhelming presence, diligent training, and putting their bodies on the line to compete with their strength and skill. It is truly a sight to behold, and the power and beauty of sumo is overwhelming. When you visit Japan, we encourage you to take a peek into the world of sumo. Why not cheer on the sumo wrestlers with enthusiasm as they battle it out?

Official Website: JAPAN SUMO ASSOCIATION 

Related sumo tours are here!

4. Chimera Games Vol. 9

The Chimera Games is an event that incorporates street-based sports that are gaining attention around the world with the addition of BMX and skateboarding to the Olympic Games. The event offers a fusion of various action sports as well as dance and music. This year’s Chimera Games will be held in Odaiba, Tokyo, over two days on May 18 and 19. With a full lineup of powerful performances, you will never be bored for a moment at this event. Come see for yourself the full extent of Japanese street culture in this exciting fusion of various genres!

Official Website: Chimera Games Vol.9

5. Kichijoji Music Festival

Kichijoji is famous as a town where creators gather and where art and music come alive. In this city, new ideas are always emerging, full of surprises and creativity. Once a jazz-focused event, Kichijoji now offers a wide variety of entertainment that transcends genres. And during Golden Week, the usually serene shopping streets, Inokashira Park, and the plaza in front of the station are transformed and come alive with exciting live music venues! The city of Kichijoji continues to attract visitors with new challenges and excitement always waiting for them. If you want to enjoy Japanese art and music to the fullest, let’s share a hot time together in Kichijoji!

Official Website: Kichijoji Music Festival

6. Flea/Pop-up Markets

Flea markets are very popular in Tokyo and are held throughout the city. They are held in parks, at the U.S. Embassy sidewalk sale, at the Ōi Racecourse, and many other locations, so be sure to check the official website for dates and times! Flea market participants sell items at low prices, believing that it is a waste to throw away unwanted household items that can still be used. You can sometimes find amazing bargains, making them a true treasure hunt. What you buy at a low price may turn out to be an unexpected treasure! Tokyo’s flea markets are exciting, once-in-a-lifetime encounters and discoveries. Be sure to visit and find your new favorite items!

7. Zushi Fireworks

Zushi Beach Fireworks Festival is an annual fireworks display for local residents, co-sponsored by the Zushi Tourist Association and Zushi City in Kanagawa Prefecture. The event attracts about 100,000 visitors, including Zushi residents, and is known as Zushi City’s most grandiose event. Before the arrival of summer, the night sky of Zushi is decorated with spectacular fireworks, creating a beautiful spectacle. The Zushi Beach Fireworks Festival continues to attract visitors with its breathtaking power and beauty. Be sure to visit the Zushi Beach Fireworks Festival to enjoy an early and impressive fireworks show before the Japanese summer!

Official Website: Zushi Foreworks (Only in Japanese) 

8. Kameido Tenjin Wisteria Festival

At Kameido Tenjin, from around the end of April each year, beautiful wisteria flowers bloom simultaneously from more than 50 wisteria trellises planted on the shrine grounds. During this season, the entire shrine is filled with the pleasant fragrance of wisteria, inviting visitors into a pleasant mood. The beautiful scenery of wisteria reflected in Shinji Pond against the backdrop of the vermilion-colored Taiko Bridge is especially breathtaking. This spectacular sight attracts many visitors and tourists, who come to the shrine to catch a glimpse of the wisteria. The wisteria at Kameido Tenjin is said to have been planted more than 360 years ago when the shrine was founded, and its ancient history and abundant beauty overwhelm visitors. We hope you will enjoy this wonderful fusion of Japanese tradition and beauty!

Official Website: Kameido Tenjin Wisteria Festival (Only in Japanese) 

9. Kurayami Festival

Kurayami Festival
Maria del Carmen Calatrava Moreno, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Via Flickr

The festival at Okunitama Shrine in Fuchu is a much-anticipated seven-day event from April 30 to May 6, during which spectacular rituals are performed. The name of the festival is “Kurayami Matsuri”. The “Kurayami” festival derives its name from the Japanese word for “darkness.” It originates from the tradition of the portable shrine procession taking place in the dead of night, when the city lights are extinguished, enveloping the surroundings in an eerie darkness. During this festival, the roaring sound of taiko drums and the spectacular dancing of floats adorn the streets. The event is full of excitement for locals and visitors alike! The powerful spectacle is sure to be a sight to behold. Kurayami Matsuri at Ookunitama Shrine is a place where Japanese mystery and tradition intersect. 

Official Website: Kurayami Festival (Only in Japanese) 

10. Seaside Cinema Yokohama

Seaside Cinema Yokohama is one of the largest cinema festivals in Japan, held at six venues including Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse. Here, visitors can enjoy a variety of movie-themed experiences. In addition to the outdoor theaters where visitors can enjoy movies to the fullest, there will also be a marché perfect for souvenirs and shopping. This festival is a special Golden Week event, so be sure to check it out if you visit Yokohama during this time! It is a rare opportunity to fully enjoy Japanese film culture and experience the charm of Yokohama.

Official Website: Seaside Cinema Yokohama (Only in Japanese) 

In this article, we have highlighted some of the wonderful experiences in Tokyo that you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy; did any of them catch your eye? Tokyo is bursting with colorful events and activities in the verdant month of May. From traditional festivals to outdoor activities that allow you to enjoy the beauty of nature, there are plenty of options to choose from. The city of Tokyo is a fascinating blend of history and modernity that will captivate visitors. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to experience Tokyo’s many attractions and have a wonderful and memorable experience.

Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Tokyo

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are traveling in, our knowledgeable and friendly guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need some help! 

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Drink Tour
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo, where you will have the chance to try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake along with your friendly English-speaking guide! 

tsukiji tour

Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

Shinjuku Bar Hopping Tour: Experience Tokyo’s Nightlife in Izakaya
Check out the best spots in Shinjuku while bar hopping through the lively and vibrant area. Try some delicious local food and drink as you explore the narrow yet photogenic alleys that the town has to offer. Experience Japanese izakaya culture and drink in Shinjuku like the locals!

shinjuku-drinking-tour

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