Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Festivals at Yoyogi Park

Photo: Wally Gobetz on Flickr

Festivals at Yoyogi Park

Marina Lizio

Yoyogi park and its festivals in summer are famous. To tell the truth, festivals and events are held year-round, one should just swing by and look around any time, or just check the listings and go to the event of choice. There's stuff for everyone, like food festivals, including vegetarian and organic food, or environment-friendly events, awareness-aimed events, themed events and so on.

This park, located beside the Meiji-Jingu shrine in Harajuku, is the pulsating heart of Tokyo. A big, green one.

Because, generally, there is not much public green around the city, not big enough anyway, Yoyogi park represents THE weekend escape for many residents who are in need of a closer connection with nature. Other than for observing cherry blossoms in spring and red leaves in fall, both residents and visitors love heading to the park on weekends just to enjoy the atmosphere.

If you go, you'll find a little bit of everything: people doing sports, school kids rehearsing choreographies of their favorite music bands, groups of young and less young people sitting and chilling, people exercising on their music instruments or others simply performing, people taking their dogs out for a walk.


There is also an abundant amount of exhibitionists, show-offs and weirdos, which contribute to the overall look of Yoyogi as a must visit spot.


Not to mention Sunday afternoons when the Tokyo Rockabilly Club brings back the 50's, and when Japanese girls (mainly girls) pose around in their lolita costumes perfect to the tiny detail.


There's an event plaza on one side of the park that's used a lot during summer for all sorts of festivals, mainly focused on celebrating all ethnic groups, one for each weekend.

They are all organized the same way: the food trucks are arranged around a square area, selling both Japanese street food such as yakisoba and takoyaki, and food typical of the country the festival is about, Thai, Brazilian, Indian, Philipino, and so on. Handmade ethnic products find also some room in the huge square, where people sell clothing items, accessories, preserves, pieces of furniture, music CDs, herbs, oils and everything that helps promote a country.


On another corner of the plaza there's an open air stage, used for shows and performances.


Typically, one can watch groups playing local music or performing local dances.

No need to say, it is mainly between May and September that festivals at Yoyogi park attract more people, thanks to a more favorable weather.

I have very good memories of summer weekends at the park. In particular, I was positively impressed when I attended for the first time the Brazilian fest for all Brazilian residents in Tokyo: I guess it is in their souls, that I saw them dancing and singing along with the performers on stage. I mean, they did that all day long.


I also remember the beauty of Indian and Sri Lankan dancers, their dresses were very colorful and their makeup and accessories were beyond stunning.

And then I remember that I ran into friends a lot. I still do. Yoyogi park becomes a small village, where everyone knows everyone, so if you had the idea of going there, there's a very high chance your friends did the same.

I like going there around May, when roses bloom, and all the rest is green, but really there is no recommended time of the year, Yoyogi park has surprises held for you every day of the year. Make sure you include it in your sightseeing list, if you are a tourist, and in your weekly routine if you are a resident. You won't be disappointed.