Summer in Tokyo is the time for flower festivals, conventions and semi (cicadas) singing from the trees. Finally get to explore previously postponed events such as Banksy’s latest exhibit. If you’re itching to take up a new skill — handcrafting, cooking, you name it — then learn from the experts with some of Tokyo’s English-friendly workshops that we’ve carefully scoured the city for and listed below.
Kitazawa Hachiman Shrine Festival
Although various summer festivals across Tokyo have been cancelled, the Kitazawa Hachimanjinja Matsuri near Shimokitazawa perseveres. The first day of the festival features the purification ritual of the mikoshi (portable shrine) and the second day marks the Grand Festival, where the mikoshi and floats will be paraded through the streets of this trendy neighborhood. While the organizers have yet to announce whether the grand parade will push through, this year’s festival will have no food stalls and performances.
Kitazawa Hachiman Shrine
Until September 17
Midtown Art Palette
Make up for all those cancelled summer festivals with an outdoor collection of art exhibits, gardens and food beneath graphical summer lanterns. As the Digital Art Garden cools the summer air with its mist and lights show, the Midpark Art Lounge will illuminate the night with vibrant “glitch art.” After strolling through the gardens and museums, try the art-inspired food menu to satisfy all your senses.
Tokyo Midtown Hall
9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Admission: ¥1,800 (university students), ¥1,200 (high school students), ¥900 (junior high and primary school students); younger children (free)
September 23- 26
Roppongi Art Night 2021
After its cancellation in 2020, Roppongi Art Night is back in full force in 2021. This year’s event is curated by none other than legendary artist Takashi Murakami, bringing local artists together to produce their interpretations of this year’s theme: the much-loved Doraemon. All the installations, performances and talks will be held on-site and online.
Various venues in Roppongi and online
Cosmos Flower Festival
Tachikawa’s Showa Kinen Park is known as one of the best green spaces to go for annual blooms and September is one of the best months. The park boasts spacious fields, soft hills and bursting blooms of various wildflowers, perfect for an afternoon summer’s stroll. If you prefer a bike ride through the blossoms, rental bicycles are available for navigating throughout Showa Kinen’s 160 hectares, or head on the water in a swan boat or row boat on the lake.
Showa Kinen Park
Midoricho 3173, Tachikawa-shi
Admission: Adults: ¥410; Free for 65-years-old and over on September 20
Until September 26
Kuma Kengo “Five Purr-fect Points for a New Public Space” Exhibit
The new exhibit features 68 of Japanese contemporary architect Kuma Kengo’s designs, including the Japan National Stadium, in the forms of models, photographs and mockups. Located in MOMAT, the exhibit explores Kengo’s primary principles: “Hole”, “Particles”, “Softness”, “Time” and “Oblique.” In contemplating the urban landscape of Tokyo, Kengo even gives a nod to Tokyo’s feline residents and “de-anthropocentrism” with a “Five Purr-fect Points for Feline Architecture” exhibition, in which he strapped GPS trackers to cats to see how they moved through the urban landscape, and how this could inform the architecture of the future.
The National Museum of Modern Art
3-1 Kitanomaru-koen, Chiyoda-ku
Admission: Adults (¥1,300), University students (¥800)
September 30-October 3
Tokyo Game Show 2021 Online
The world’s largest gaming convention successfully shifted online last year. This September, TGS2021 celebrates its 25th anniversary with theme: “We’ll always have games.” While exploring the boundless future of gaming and technology, TGS2021’s online “experience” tour will recreate the interactive experience of visiting over 200 exhibitors’ booths. Check out their website for payment and reservation details for the September 29 online e-commerce and business matching session.
Admission: Free (General), Fees included for business matching
Until October 17
MOT Annual 2021: A sea, a living room and a skull
This year, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo presents a multimedia exhibition series introducing young contemporary artists from diverse cultural backgrounds. Relevant to the political and social implications presented by the pandemic, artists Ishu Han, Daisuke Kosugi and Maya Watanabe’s themes each reckon with the conflict of individual and dominant social systems. Primarily through film and video installations, MOT Annual 2021 provides audiovisual reflections on questions we are faced with in this global crisis.
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku
Admission: Adults (¥1,300 yen), student and senior discounts available
August 21-December 5
WHO IS BANKSY?
Who is Banksy? is the topic of perhaps the most inconclusive debate in the contemporary art world. Banksy’s trademark stenciling technique, often underlined with political commentary, has made him one of the most popular artists in the world today. Originally discovered in the streets of the UK, the elusive artists’ works will be on display in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukushima, focusing on Banksy’s anonymity despite his works’ universality.
Warehouse TERRADA G1 Bldg.
2-6-4 Higashi Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku
Koji Soap Designing Workshop
Among the various workshops offered by Kontacto, this one won’t have you getting your hands dirty. Instructor Harumi Tanaka from Bon Sabon will guide you through the process of creating artistic, handmade soap bars. The finished product contains Koji, a powerful moisturizing ingredient — making it perfect for personal use at home or as a gift.
Kontacto East, Ltd.
2-25-11-1F Nishiazabu, Minato-ku
Admission : ¥ 6,930 – materials included
South Indian Cuisine Workshop
Up your curry-cooking game with this workshop guided closely by instructor Masala Worah from Dancing! India Unit and the team from Masala Wala. Just when you thought you’d run out of meals to make at home during quarantine, learn how to make delicious and authentic shrimp curry with this workshop and add another recipe to your arsenal.
Kontacto East, Ltd.
2-25-11-1F Nishiazabu Minato-ku
Admission: ¥ 7,000 – includes materials and recipes
Inkstand by Kakimori Ink-making Workshop
Who said pens had to be black or blue? With Kakimori’s workshop, you’ll be guided through the process of crafting your own unique shade of water-based fountain pigment ink using a professional mixing kit, which will then be processed by the staff and bottled up, ready for you to take home and use with your favorite pens. Hidden in the charming neighborhood of Kuramae, downtown Tokyo, the store also hosts a collection of minimalist notebooks and delicate stationery for sale.
1-6-2 Misuji, Taito-ku
Admission: ¥3,000 per bottle
Edo Tokyo Soba-making Workshop
Put. The store-bought soba. Down. Instead, learn how to make your own, high-quality soba the authentic old-fashioned way. With Edo Tokyo’s professional instructors, learn how to beat, knead, stretch and cut your own soba noodles using freshly ground buckwheat flour and the in-store stone mill. A true labor of love, cook your soba at the workshop — soba just tastes so much better when you make it yourself. Reserve a spot in advance and request for an English interpreter if you’d like.
Edo Tokyo Soba no Kai
3-24-8 Higashitateishi, Katsushika-ku
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Based in Japan: Ria Scott
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Conversations with award-winning author Yu Miri and translator Morgan Giles