What’s happening in Tokyo this May? Check out Yoyogi Park’s Okinawa Matsuri Street Music Festival to make the most of the perfect spring weather before the humidity and heat cranks up in the summer, or spend your weekends admiring everything from art giant Katsushika Hokusai’s works right down to the world of miniature photography at TODAYS GALLERY STUDIO. Here’s a top list of events in Tokyo this May.
As always, please check on each event’s website for updates as events may be canceled. For more information on coronavirus in Tokyo, check out our up-to-date page.
April 29 – May 1
Tiny Zine Season 7
What’s the difference between a zine and a regular book or magazine you see in bookstores? A zine is self-published work produced by independent creators. The number of copies is limited but there’s no limitation on the content, from ilustration, fiction, photography, and more. Zine making is all about freedom to express your creativity and Tiny Zine is an event where independent artists gather together to share their perspectives and ideas. You’ll also have the opportunity to join workshops if you ever wondered about the scenes behind zinemaking.
Tefu Yoyogi Uehara, Shibuya-ku
Admission: ¥700 (¥200 discount via LINE)
April 22 – May 9
Oktoberfest is a splash of German in the middle of urban Tokyo. The long-awaited beer festival is finally returning, and is the perfect choice for anyone looking for an excuse to rally up their crew for an outdoor drinking get-together. Hefty German draft beer glasses, Marzen-style grubs and Bavarian music bands lend Oktoberfest its full-on festive vibe. Hit Shinjuku Odakyu Park to get to know more about this giant folk festival, and order yourself a set of pretzels, sausages and sauerkraut to enjoy with your pint.
Shinjuku Odakyu Park, Shinjuku-ku
Until May 16
Neko Break Odaiba (ねこ休み展 in お台場)
Need to take a short break from your busy weekdays? “Neko Break Odaiba” is exactly the place for soul healing. It’s a photography exhibition where cat lovers can fully immerse themselves in the kawaii neko world and get cured by these fluffy angels. Photos of many internet-famous cats with 13 million followers in total are on display. From paintings to accessories, you can also bring home a piece of artwork handmade by cat-art creators.
DECKS Tokyo Beach, Minato-ku
Admission: ¥600 (Free for children under 3)
Until May 16
World of Miniature Photography (ミニチュア写真の世界展)
Have you ever taken a close look at those tiny, intricate bowls made exclusively for the Hinamatsuri dolls? Japanese culture has a love for all things miniature, and it’s deeply rooted in its history. From furniture to utensils, furry animals to delicate desserts, there’s nothing that can’t be miniaturized. At TODAYS GALLERY STUDIO’s current exhibition, “World of Miniature Photography,” photographers enlarge the miniaturized, providing a brand new perspective to enjoy the delicacy of miniature artworks. Don’t forget to check out the gallery shop if you’d like to bring a piece of the miniature world home.
TODAYS GALLERY STUDIO., Taito-ku
Admission: ¥600 (Free for children under 3)
May 15 – May 16
Okinawa Matsuri Street Music Festival
Okinawa Matsuri is the largest event in mainland Japan where you can experience authentic Okinawan culture. Maybe the weather is not as hot, and the air not so full of a sea breeze, but taking a bite of classic Okinawan tofu while listening to music performed by Okinawan artists in the middle of Tokyo — all without having to pay for expensive airplane tickets and hotels — is pretty close. Mark your calendar for this free trip to Okinawa in May.
Yoyogi Park Events Square, Shibuya-ku
May 29 – May 30
Design Festa Vol. 53
Design Festa is a burst of color on the canvas of Tokyo’s art scene. Twice a year, 12,000 amateur and professional artists alike gather in the ultra-modern Tokyo Big Sight center to display their best works. Stretching the seams of artistic expressions — think over-the-top lolita fashion, vivid murals and whimsical paintings — the event spotlight many of Japan’s lesser-known genres of creatives. Whether you’re on the lookout for pieces or simply browsing, Design Festa is an all-inclusive celebration of both artistry and diversity.
Tokyo Big Sight Aomi Exhibition Halls, Koto-ku
Admission: Prices Vary
Until June 6
Hokusai: The World-Acclaimed Ukiyo-e Artist
Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock print “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” is a long-standing icon in Japan’s art landscape, but many of his other works have remained hidden from the public. Among those to be showcased are his lesser-known paintings from his landscape series “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” and some of the ukiyo-e master’s Western-influenced pieces. His earlier portraits of actors and yokai (ghost) paintings offer an even broader glimpse into his artistic contours. Now, the Hachioji Art Museum will curate 170 of Hokusai’s artworks to re-solidify his position as a pioneer of his time.
Hachioji Yume Art Museum
Admission: ¥800 (Student/Senior discount available)
Until May 30
The Voice of Shellfish
Shinsuke Tomita leaves his artistic footprint through oil paints and copperplate printings. As an artist, he nails visual dialogues through self-imagery and paints male forms vaguely inspired by his reflection. The prints, in particular, start as hazy figures on a copperplate. After fine-tuning them through test prints and cutting processes, the uncanny portraits are often flushed in chromatic ranges that lends a suspenseful air around them. Some of these copperplate pieces, alongside other newer works, will be put on display in his first debut solo exhibition.
Hiromart Gallery, Bunkyo-ku
Other events to look out for in May
Kashiwa Sato (The National Art Center, Tokyo)
Mingei: the Shape of Beautiful Living (ATELIER MUJI Ginza)
Mondrian: In Search of Pure Pictures (Sompo Japan Museum of Art)
rhizomatiks_multiplex (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo)
Monet: Questioning Nature (Artizon Museum)