When talking about Ginza, it’s always about shopping and restaurants. Not at all surprising since this posh neighborhood district is hands down the go-to place for anything high fashion and fine dining.
But did you know that Ginza has a few other things up its designer sleeve?
Turns out this side of Tokyo is also a happening scene for an interesting variety of cultural events. For starters, here are five festivals in and and around Ginza we think you should know about.
1. Ginza Yanagi Festival
Held on the same day as Children’s Day, Ginza Yanagi Festival or Ginza Willow Festival commemorates the appointment of Nishi-Ginza dori as one of Tokyo’s symbolic roads. It’s a whole day affair that combines the modern with the traditional, with a jampacked roster of activities such as parades, performances, workshops, art, play spaces for children and many other exhibits along this famous willow-lined city block.
Held every May 5 (Children’s Day)
Nishi Ginza-dori and Sukiyabashi Park
2. Yukata De Ginbura
A nice summer stroll along Ginza in yukatas.
Yukata de Ginbura is a Sunday festival in August to celebrate Ginza-dori being Tokyo’s first ever pedestrian paradise. On this holiday, everyone is invited to come to Ginza wearing their casual kimonos, yukatas, and enjoy the day’s special activities. Some of the festival’s highlights include an ice sculpture exhibit, a streetside wadaiko (Japanese drum) performance, free drinks by Ginza Teahouse, and kid friendly activities at the Kid’s Plaza. Late in the afternoon, watch out for the Uchimizu event where about a thousand people in kimonos simultaneously splash a bucket of water on the street to cool down Ginza-dori’s hot summer pavement.
Usually held every first Sunday in August*
*2016 Schedule: July 31
3. Tsukiji Shishi Matsuri
If something traditional is more to your liking then Tsukiji Shishi Matsuri is your kind of festival. A bit to the east of Ginza, Tsukiji prays for prosperity, good business, and protection from disasters by parading a pair of lion heads from Namiyoke Inari-jinja shrine. Weighing about 700kg each, the lionness is carried by the women, while the lion is shouldered by the men. It is said that the mighty roars of these two lions will cause the world to obey. So better expect one colorful, crowded, and noisy celebration.
Held every mid-June
Namiyoke Inari-jinja Shrine
http://www.namiyoke.or.jp/shishimaturitokusetsu.html (Japanese only)
4. Respect Jamaica Festival
Respect Jamaica Festival is a yearly summer festival that aims to bring more awareness for Jamaican culture. Sing and dance along to reggae beats as you go through different booths scattered around Hibiya Park to sample Jamaican cuisine, browse some of their best products, and participate in several games and hands-on workshops. The event is child-friendly with a good number of activities aimed for kids. It’s a weekend in the park with a twist!
August 20-21, 2016 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM (1st day), 5:30 PM (2nd day)
Hibiya Park (Free Admission)
http://respectjamaica.web.fc2.com (Japanese only)
5. Africa Hibiya Festival
This time around, various African cultures takes the spotlight at the Africa Hibiya Festival. Like Respect Jamaica Festival, this multi-cultural event introduces the richness of African heritage by way of music, dance, food, arts, sports, and lifestyles. It features a live stage, photo exhibitions, workshops, and a bazaar that will surely make for an interesting stroll at the park.
August 6-7, 2016
Hibiya Park (Free Admission)