Summer 2009


Sanno Matsuri
One of Tokyo’s three biggest festivals, the Sanno Matsuri dates back to the Edo Period. June 7-17, Hie Shrine. Tel: 03-3581-2471. Nearest stn: Tamaikesano, Kokkaigijijyo-mae, Akasaka-Mitsuke Nagatacho.

SSFF & ASIA 2008
Short Shorts Film Festival runs into its eleventh year while its ‘Asia’ segment runs into its sixth, supported by George Lucas, Sofia Coppola and many others. June 7-14. Omotesando Hills space [O:], Laforet Harajuku, Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills and Brillia Short Shorts Theater (Yokohama). Tel: 03-5214-3005.

Grand Kabuki
Monthly series of traditional Japanese theater performances dating back to the Edo Period, with English earphone guide. The Kabuki-Za theater is closing in less than a year for major renovation work, so catch it while it’s still here. June 3-27, ¥2,500-¥17,000, Kabuki-Za theater, 4-12-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3541-3131. Reservations: 03-5565-6000. Nearest stn: Ginza-Itchome.

Asahi Art Festival 2009
Nationwide series of visual art, performance theater, workshops and music, sponsored by Asahi Beer. June 20-Sep 13. Asahi Headquarters, 1-23-1 Azumabashi, Sumida-ku and other locations. Tel: 03-3353-6866. Email for more info.

Tokyo Comedy Store
Tokyo’s longest-running English live comedy show features standup, sketch and improv comedy. June 26, (Open 7:30pm) 8-10:30pm, ¥2,000, The Crocodile, B1 6-18-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3499-5205. Nearest stn: Shibuya or Meiji-Jingumae. (Reservations through the site)

Blue Man Group
Don’t miss the legendary performance troupe at their dedicated theater in Roppongi. Through June, July, Aug, various times. ¥7,500/¥8,500 (poncho seat), Invoice Theater. Tel: 03-53640-6472. Nearest stn: Roppongi.

Lily Allen
The renowned British singer, songwriter and TV host comes to Japan to promote her second album, ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’. June 5, 7pm, ¥6,300. Shibuya O-East. Tel.03-3444-6751. Nearest stn: Shibuya.

Dreams Come True
Major J-pop duo celebrates its 20th anniversary with a nationwide tour. June 23-24, 6:30pm, Jun 27, 6pm, Jun 28, 5pm, seats ¥7,800, standing ¥6,500. National Yoyogi Stadium. Tel: 03-5720-9999. Nearest stn: Harajuku or Meiji-jingu-mae.


Oedo Antique Fair
Takes place every first and third Sunday. July 5 and 19, 8am-4:30pm, Tokyo International Forum, Marunouchi. Tel: 03-6407-6011. Nearest stn: Yurakucho.

Shonen Knife
The veteran female rock band throws their annual party in Shibuya. Jul 6, 7pm, ¥3,500. Club Quattro, 4F 32-23 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya. Tel: 03-3444-6751.

Tokyo Summer Festival

Indigenous Japanese musicians and performers from across the globe. June 29-Aug 19, various locations. Tel: 03-5465-0755.

Yasukuni Shrine Mitama Festival
More than 29,000 colorful lanterns are displayed during this festival at Japan’s controversial shrine, which also features traditional performances. July 13-16. Yasukuni Shrine, 3-1-1 Kudankita, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3261-8326.

Fuji Rock Festival 09
Long-running outdoor rock event, with Oasis, Franz Ferdinand, Weezer, Basement Jaxx, Fall Out Boy, Animal Collective and others. July 24-26, 11am-11pm, ¥39,800 (three-day pass)/ ¥16,800 (one day). Naeba Ski Resort, Niigata.

Antiques Jamboree
One of Japan’s biggest antique markets, with Japanese and Western furniture and toys. July 17-19, Tokyo Big Sight Exhibition Hall 1E, ¥1,000. Nearest stn: Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon (Yurikamome line) or Kokusai-Tenjijo (Rinkai line).


Rock in Japan Fest
J-pop music festival that gets bigger every year. With Puffy, Ulfuls, Chatmonchy, Acidman and others. July 31-Aug 2, 10:30am-8:30pm, ¥11,500 (one day)/¥22,000 (two-day pass)/¥30,000 (three-day pass). Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki. Tel: 0180-993-611.

Summer Sonic
The local alternative to Fuji Rock Festival. With My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park, Beyonce, The Flaming Lips, Aphex Twin and more. Aug 7, 12pm, ¥14,000; Aug 8-9, 11:30am, ¥15,000/¥39,500 (three-day pass). Chiba Marine Stadium and Makuhari Messe.

O-Bon Festival
Many businesses close over this unofficial holiday period in mid-August, which is traditionally when families conduct religious rites in memory of the souls of the dead. Many areas of Tokyo hold street festivals with traditional dancing. Travel within Japan and internationally can be expensive and crowded around O-bon.

Azabu-Juban Festival (Azabu-Juban Nouryou Matsuri)

The main attraction at this huge and wildly popular festival in mid-August is the food. Hundreds of stalls line the streets catering to thousands of visitors. Check out traditional dancing and music, too. Date TBA. Nearest stn: Azabu-Juban. Tel. 03-3451-5812

Asakusa Samba Carnival
Tokyo’s own version of Brazil’s Carnival is held in Asakusa in late August every year. Get there early to grab a spot for viewing the parade. Aug 29. Nearest stn: Asakusa.

a-nation ’09
Music festival from Avex, J-pop’s ultimate promo-machine, featuring Ayumi Hamasaki, Do As Infinity, TRF, Every Little Thing and others. Aug 22-23, 3pm, ¥7,800. Ajinomoto Stadium, Chofu. Tel: 0180-993-553.

Super Yosakoi Festival 2009
Tokyo’s answer to Shikoku’s traditional dance festival, featuring about 80 amateur teams. Aug 29-30, free. Tel: 03-5766-1320. Nearest stn: Harajuku, Meiji-Jingumae or Omotesando.

West Side Story
The 50th anniversary world tour of the hit musical reaches Tokyo. Jul 29-Aug 9, various times, ¥6,000-¥14,000. Bunkamura Orchard Hall, Shibuya. Tel: 03-3498-9999. Nearest stn: Shibuya.


Tickets can be bought from Ticket Pia, the ticketing arm of all-you-need-to-know-about-Japanese-events mag Pia, among other places. Ticket Pia stations are all over Tokyo, and even if you don’t speak Japanese and don’t know how to fill out the form, someone should be able to help you out. Here are some Ticket Pia locations:

Shibuya 1F Bunkamura; Tokyu Dept Store, 10F West Wing; 1F Tokyu Bunka Kaikan; Book 1st; Ticket Port, 2F 109 Bldg; 8F Marui Young; World Sports Plaza, East Branch

Shinjuku 2F Isetan Dept Store, New Bldg; It’s Service Corner; Island Tower;
2F Center Wing; 1F Keio Dept Store; Ticket Port; 5F Seibu PePe; 7F Marui City; 8F Marui Young

Ueno Ueno Remix; CD Garden Flora Ueno; 9F Marui City; ABAB Ueno;
M2F Matsuzakaya

Ebisu Tsutaya Ebisu Garden Place

Ginza B1 Yamano Music Shop;
1F Sony Bldg; Haku­hinkan Ticket Park

Shonen Knife
Courtesy of P-Vine Records
Fires in the Sky
In summer, fireworks light up the skies in and around Tokyo almost every weekend. Dress up in a yukata (summer kimono) to look the part.

Sumida River Fireworks Festival July 25, 7:10-8:30pm. No. of fireworks: 22,000. Tel: 03-5246-1111. Nearest stn: Asakusa or Kuramae.

Meiji-Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival
Aug 6, 7:30-8:30pm. No. of fireworks: 10,000. Tel: 03-3547-0900. Nearest stn: Sendagaya (Sobu Line) .

Omiya Fireworks Festival (Saitama): August 8, 7-9pm. No. of Fireworks: 15,000. Tel: 048-647-8338. Nearest stn: Higashi-Urawa, west exit, then Bus #5 to Orakawa Sougo Undoukoen.

Tokyo Bay/Harumi Pier Fireworks Festival Date TBD. No. of fireworks: 12,000. Tel: 03-3543-0211. Nearest stn: Kachidoki (Oedo line).

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