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APRIL 2017

(Please confirm information before you go at the phone numbers listed)

(*) covered events
1 Sat *Chiyoda Sakura Matsuri March 28 through April 9
*Ueno Sakura Matsuri March 18 to April 9
    *Tokyo National Museum Garden Special Springtime Opening March 14-April 7
    *Bokutei Sakura Matsuri March 24 to April 8
    *Special Opening of Garden of Denbou-in, Sensoji Temple in Asakusa March 18-May 9
    *Chiyoda Sakura Matsuri March 28 to April 6
2 Sun *Gyoki (Buddhism Devotion) April 2 to April 7 at Zojoji Temple
    *Kanamara Matsuri at Kawasaki
    *Hana Matsuri (Flower Festival - Buddha's Birthday) at Gokokuji
    *Sakura Matsuri at Naka Meguro
3 Mon  
4 Tue  
5 Wed  
6 Thu  
7 Fri  
8 Sat *Hana Matsuri (Flower Festival - Buddha's Birthday) at Sensoji in Asakusa
    *Hana Matsuri (Flower Festival - Buddha's Birthday) Chigosan Gyoretsu at Shibamata Taishakuten
    *Tsutsuji Matsuri (Azalea Festival) April 8 through May 5 at Nezu Shrine.
    *Oiran Dochu (Reenacted parade of oiran courtesans in Edo Era) at Yoshiwara, Taito-ku
9 Sun *Shirasagi no Mai (White Heron Dance) at Sensoji Temple
10 Mon *Tatebayashi Azalea Festival April 10-May 10
11 Tue *Botan (Peony) Festival April 11 through May 10 at Ueno Toshogu Shrine
12 Wed  
13 Thu  
14 Fri *Matsudo Tojotei Wisteria Festival April 14-May 5
15 Sat *Asakusa Yabusame
    *Wisteria at Ashikaga Flower Park April 15 through May 21
    *Yokohama Street Performance
    *Kameido Tenjin Wisteria Festival April 15-May 7
16 Sun *Boat Race: So-Kei Regatta 
    *Daidai Kagura at Shinagawa Jinja Shrine in Shinagawa-ku
    *Yokohama Street Performance
17 Mon *Yasukuni Shrine Hono Sumo
18 Tue  
19 Wed  
20 Thu  
21 Fri *Annual Spring Festival of Yasukuni Shrine April 21 through April 23
22 Sat  
23 Sun *Confucian Festival at Yushima Seido (Confucian Sacred Hall) in Yushima, Bunkyo-ku from 10 a.m.
24 Mon  
25 Tue  
26 Wed  
27 Thu  
28 Fri The 8th World Bonsai Convention, Saitama
29 Sat National Holiday (Showa-no-Hi - Birthday of Emperor Showa)
    The 8th World Bonsai Convention, Saitama
    *Konkon Kutsu Ichi (Shoe festival and sales) at Tamahime Shrine
    *Kobudo (old martial arts of Japan) at Katori Jinja Shrine in Kameido, Koto-ku.
    *Yokonakaba Shishimai
    *Bugaku (ceremonial court dance and music) 11 a.m. at Meiji Jingu Shrine (tentative)
    *Mashiko Pottery Fair (April 29 through May 7)
    *Firemen's Memorial Service
30 Sun *Konkon Kutsu Ichi (Shoe festival and sales) at Tamahime Shrine
    The 8th World Bonsai Convention, Saitama

SAKURA MATSURI

Garden of Denbou-in (Denpou-in), Sensoji Temple in Asakusa
Sakura Matsuri at Meguro River (Naka Meguro Area)
Ueno Cherry Blossoms Festival
Chidorigafuchi Cherry Blossoms (Chiyoda Sakura Matsuri)
Cherry Blossoms at Sankeien Garden in Yokohama
Cherry Blossoms at the Sumida Park on both sides of the Sumida River
Cherry Blossoms in Kamakura
Cherry Blossoms at Koganei Park

Springtime Opening of Tokyo National Museum Garden
March 14 to May 7, 2017

The Museum Garden behind the Honkan main building is open during the spring. Museum invites you to enjoy strolling among the five teahouses, each with their own history, as well as the cherry blossoms, which about 10 varieties bloom from one from to another. The flourishing garden is most beautiful at this time of the year. (Quoted from the museum website)

URL: http://www.tnm.jp/?lang=en
Address: 13-9 Ueno Koen, Taito-ku
Access: Ueno Station on JR Yamanote Line (Ueno Park Exit)
Map: http://goo.gl/maps/1gauv
Admission: 620 yen
Time: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed Mon - if Monday is a holiday on Tuesday, Dec. 24-Jan. 1 closed)
Telephone: 03-3822-1111
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KOGANEI METROPOLITAN PARK

Koganei Metropolitan Park situated along the Tamagawa River water supply is an enormous 80 hectres. 1.5 times that of Ueno Park. It is a park full of variety. A broad expanse of grass, groves of trees around that, a cherry tree garden, children's field, Japanese archery range, SL (C57) steam locomotive display and 16 tennis courts are just some of the park's features. The park's cherry tree garden is one of the most popular cherry blossom viewing spot in Tokyo with more about 1,700 cherry trees planted in the park.

Adjacent to the cherry tree garden is Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum which was established in 1993 by the Metropolitan Government as part of the Edo-Tokyo Museum. The museum exhibit historical buildings of great cultural value.

URL: Koganei Park
Access: Koganei-Koen-Nishiguchi bus stop on Seibu Bus from Musashi-Koganei Station (JR Chuo Line)
Telephone: 042-385-5611
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Garden of Denbou-in (Denpou-in), Sensoji Temple in Asakusa
Special Opening: March 18-May 9 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) All days during the period

Denbou-in (Denpou-in)
is a place where priests of Sensoji Temple do Buddhist training. Denbou-in was also used as the residence of Kansu, the top priest of Sensoji Temple. The guest room and the entrance of the building was constructed in 1777. When Shoguns and nobles visited Sensoji Temple, they would often rest in Denbou-in. Garden of Denbou-in, Sensoji Temple in Asakusa is believed designed by Kobori Enshu, an eminent gardener in early 17th century.

The garden is not usually opened to the public. The garden has been exceptionally opening to the public in spring since 2012 to collect money for the victims of the earthquake in Tohoku in 2011. Also exhibited in the treasure house are many giant "ema" made during the Edo period and treasures of Sensoji Temple.

URL: http://www.senso-ji.jp/html/html/index.html

Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku (located inside the compound of Sensoji Temple)
Admission: 300 yen
Access: Asakusa Station on Subway Ginza Line, Toei Asakusa Line, Tsukuba Express, Tobu Sky Tree Line
Telephone: 03-3842-0181
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Sakura Matsuri at Meguro River (Naka Meguro Area)

Late March to Early April
Place: Along the Meguro River near Naka Meguro Station
Festival Event will be held on April 2, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at the square near Naka Meguro Station


The Meguro River (canal) begins from Setagaya-ku and runs into Tokyo Bay via Meguro-ku and Shinagawa-ku for 8 k.m. About 830 somei yoshino cherry trees are planted on both sides of the river from Ikejiri Ohashi to Meguro Station for about 3.8 k.m.

Many events are held during the Sakura Matsuri period at a square near Naka Meguro Station and night light up of sakura is done during the festival period.

URL: Megurogawa Sakura
Map: http://goo.gl/maps/jWYTp
Access: Naka Meguro Station on Subway Hibiya Line
Telephone: 03-3770-3665/ 03-3715-1111 (Meguro Kuyakusho)
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Hono Sumo at Yasukuni Shrine
April 17 (Mon) 9:00 a.m.-3 p.m.
Admission: Free

Every year in April, the Yasukuni shrine holds an event of Hono Sumo (sumo exhibition matches dedicated to the shrine).

Sumo is believed to have originated as a dedication to the Shinto gods. The Imperial court encouraged wrestling bouts in olden times and experts in the art were summoned to the court to wrestle for a prize. The sumo is recognized as the national sport the emperor occasionally honoring the championship bouts with his presence.

URL: Yasukuni Shrine
Access: Kudan-shita Stn. on Subways Tozai Line and Hanzomon Line.
Telephone: 03-3261-8326
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Ueno Cherry Blossoms Festival
March 18 through April 9 (2017 Photos)
Ueno Park, Taito-ku.

The Ueno Park is probably the most well known cherry blossom viewing (hanami) spot in Tokyo and it is most crowded during the period of the festival.

Hanami loosens up Japanese and turns the park into a big outdoor hanami party place where people are allowed to drink and sing songs.

It is reported half of the visitors are foreigners this year in 2016.

URL: Ueno Park
Nearest Stn. JR Ueno Station. A few minutes walk from Ueno Koen-guchi Exit.
Telephone: 03-3828-5644 (Ueno Park)
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Chidorigafuchi Cherry Blossoms
Chidorigafuchi Moat near Tayasu-mon gate of the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda-ku.
March 28 through April 9 (Chiyoda Sakura Matsuri)

Chiyoda Sakura Matsuri will be March 28 through April 6. Sakura at Yasukuni Shrine which is located across the Yasukuni Street to Chidrorigafuchi is also beautiful.

Sakura is considered the national flower of Japan. The flower seldom lasts more than three or four days, it is compared to the spirit of samurai who are prepared to die with a grace for his lord at a moment's notice.

URL: Chiyoda Sakura Matsuri
Access: Kudan-Shita Station on Subways Tozai Line and Hanzomon Line.
Telephone: 03-3264-2111 (Chiyoda-ku)
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Cherry Blossoms at the Sumida Park on both sides of the Sumida River
Late March to Early April

The sumida river runs between Taito-ku and Sumida-ku. On the side of the Taito-ku is Asakusa and the other side Mukojima which is a district known as one of the geisha districts in Tokyo.

Tokyo Sky Tree standing near the Sumida River is on the side of Sumida-ku The tower has become a new tourists spot of Tokyo.

URL: Sumida Park Sakura
Access: Asakusa Station on Subway Ginza Line, Subway Toei Asakusa Line and Tsukuba Express.
Telephone: 03-3844-1221 (Asakusa Kanko Renmei)
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Cherry Blossoms in Kamakura
Late March to Early April

Kotokuin Temple - Great Buddha (Daibutsu) at Kotokuin Temple was cast in 1252. In 1495, a tidal wave swept away the great temple of the Buddha leaving only its foundation stones but did not injure the Buddha's body.
URL: Kotokuin
Address: 4-2-28 Hase, Kamakura City
Access: Hase Station on Enoshima Dentetsu Railway
Telephone: Kotoku-in Temple 0467-22-0703

Engakuji Temple in Kita Kamakura is the head temple of the Engakuji branch of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism. The temple was founded in 1282 by a Chinese Zen monk Mugaku Sogen at the request of Hojo Tokimune - eighth regent of the Kamakura shogunate.
Address: 409 Yamanouchi, Kamakura City
URL: Engakuji
Access: 1 minute from Kita Kamakura Station on JR Yokosuka Line
Telephone: 0467-22-0478
Admission: 300 yen

Kenchoji Temple in Kamakura is the headquarter of the Kenchoji branch of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism. The temple was founded in 1249 by the fifth Kamakura shogunal regent Hojo Tokiyori (1227-1263).
Address: 8 Yamanouchi, Kamakura City, Kangawa Prefecture
URL: Kenchoji
Access: 15 minutes walk from Kita Kamakura Station on JR Yokosuka Line
Telephone: 0467-22-0981
Admission: 300 yen
(Photos taken April 6, 2010)
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Cherry Blossoms at Sankeien Garden in Yokohama
Late March to Early April

Sankeien Garden is a traditional and typical Japanese-style garden designed and landscaped by Sankei Hara (1868-1939) a wealthy businessman in the silk trade. He reconstructed buildings of historic importance relocated from places such as Kyoto and Kamakura in this garden and opened to the public as "Sankeien" in 1906. In the garden of 1,750,000 square meters, seven old buildings of high historic value are skillfully arranged in harmony with the seasonal changes of the natural scenery. (from Sankeien English pamphlet)

URL: Sankeien
Address: 58-1 Sannotani, Honmoku, Naka-ku, Yokohama.
Access: Take any one of the municipal buses labeled Route 58,99 or 101From JR Negishi Station (Keihin Tohoku Line) at bus stop No. 1. Get off at Honmoku and 10 minutes walk.
Telephone: 045-621-0634/5; Admission: 500 yen; Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Closed Dec. 29,30 and 31.
(photos taken April 6, 2010)
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Gyoki (Buddhism Devotion)
April 2 to April 7 (every year the same days)
Zojoji Temple, Minato-ku.

Zojoji is the temple of Jodo-shu (Pure Land Sect) buddhism which was founded by Honen (1130-1212). The temple was the family temple of the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan during the Edo period.

Gyoki (Buddhism Devotion) commemorates the death of Honen. A great parade of buddhism priests will be held on April 5,6 and 7 from 1:30 p.m. (10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on 7) including children in colorful wardrobes (ochigosan gyoretsu). Bugaku (ancient court music and dance) is performed every day from April 2 to 7 at 12:30 p.m. for 30 minutes.

The giant cedar tree near the San Gedatsumon gate was planted by the 18th American President Ulysses S. Grant when he visited the temple in 1879.

URL: http://www.zojoji.or.jp/en/
Address: 4-7-35 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku
Access: Hamamatsu-cho Stn. on JR Yamanote Line and Onarimon Stn. on Subway Toei Mita Line.
Telephone: 03-3432-1431

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Kanamara Matsuri (Fertility Festival)
April 2 (Sun)
Kanayama Shrine (inside Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine) in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The fertility festival enjoys increased popularity recently thanks to foreign visitors who are interested in the unusual ritual of Japan. The shrine was originally the guardian god of blacksmiths. The district was once thrived with metal industry. Today, some believe the deity, the steel made phallus, guards people from AIDS.

Many ema depicting babies inside the precincts of the shrine are brought by those who want to be blessed with babies. (Ema is a woooden tablet painted with a picture in thanks or in pray for the god).

Shinto rituals begin at 10 a.m. and the parade of mikoshi carrying kanamara follows at 12 noon.

URL: Wakamiya Hachiman
Address: 2-13-16 Daishi Ekimae, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Acces: Kawasaki Daishi Station on Keikyu Daishi Line from Kawasaki..
Telephone: 044-222-3206 (Wakamiya Jinja Shrine)
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Nyugakushiki (School Entrance Ceremony)

April is a special month for Japanese. In Japan, a fiscal year runs April 1 through March 31, so is the academic year. Nyugakushiki means "school entrance ceremony." For children who are 7 or 8 years old, it is the first day for them to attend a primary school. In the ceremony, a principal makes a welcoming speech. Each student is called by his or her name and they answer "hai" (yes!).

The new elementary school students are also introduced to various faculties of the school helping them adjust to their new academic life. In the ceremony, most of the new students' parents attend.

In beginning a school, every child is presented by parents a backpack called "randoseru" (came from Dutch word ransel) which is intended to last the full six years of elementary school.
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It also is the day for many people they start new jobs, or transfers. Japanese companies have Nyushashiki (company introduction ceremony) and government offices Nyushoshiki (government offices entry ceremony) for new employees. Thus, April 1 becomes the day they begin their new life for many Japanese. Nyugakushiki is usually held on April 6 or 7 differient in regions.
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Hana Matsuri (Flower Festival - Buddha's Birthday)
April 2 (Sun), Chigosan Gyoretsu (procession of gaily dressed sacred children) at 2 p.m.
Gokokuji Temple in Otowa, Bunkyo-ku.

Gokokuji Temple was founded by the mother of the fifth Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi in 1680.

Today in Japan, April 8 - Buddha's Birthday, does not remind people very much that it is the Buddha's Birthday. Yet, the memorial ceremony is held at Buddhist temples throughout Japan. Hana Matsuri is also called Kanbutsu-e, a rite of pouring amacha (sweet tea) over Buddha statues. It is believed that drinking tea served by temples on Buddha's birthday will not only stimulate their religious faith but also ensure good health.

Chigosan Gyoretsu (procession of gaily dressed children) makes the festival bright and colorful. In the old time, they were carefully chosen, for example, they have to live with living parents etc. Today, it is free and open to everybody who want to join but the children's ages must be under eight.

URL: http://www.gokokuji.or.jp/
Address: 5-40-1 Otsuka, Bunkyo-ku
Access: Gokokuji Station on Subway Yurakucho Line.
Telephone: 03-3941-0764
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Hana Matsuri (Kanbutsue - Buddha's Birthday)
April 8 (Sat)
Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Taito-ku.

Kanbutsue (Hanamatsuri) is the festival commemorating the Nativity of Buddha and is observed at all Buddhist temples in Japan. Kanbutsu means pouring amacha (sweet tea) on over Buddha statues decorated with flowers.

.It is believed that Buddha upon his birth, stood erect, walked a few steps and shouted "I am my own lord throughout heavens and earth" with his one hand pointing heaven and the other toward the earth.

It was on Buddha's birthday that children first learn to taste tea in traditional Japan. About the white elephant, on the eve of giving birth to Buddha, his mother Maya had a dream a white elephant carrying a white lotus entered her womb.

Children's procession with a white elephant begins at 10 a.m. from the Kaminarimon gate. Pouring tea on the statue of Buddha by visitors continues all day.

URL: Sensoji
Aceess: Asakusa Stn. on Subway Ginza Line, Toei Subway Asakusa Line and Tobu Isezaki Line.
Telephone: 03-3842-0181
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Hana Matsuri (Flower Festival - Buddha's Birthday) April 8 (Sat), Chigosan Gyoretsu (procession of gaily dressed sacred children) at 1:30 p.m..
Taishakuten Temple in Shibamata, Katsushika-ku.

In today's Japan, April 8 does not remind people very much that it is the Buddha's Birthday. Yet, the memorial ceremony is held at Buddhist temples throughout Japan. Hana Matsuri is also called Kanbutsu-e, a rite of pouring amacha (sweet tea) over Buddha statues. It is believed that drinking tea served by temples on Buddha's birthday will not only stimulate their religious faith but also ensure good health.

Joining the festival at major temples is Chigosan Gyoretsu (procession of gaily dressed sacred children) which makes the festival bright and colorful. In the old time, they were carefully chosen, for example, they have to live with living parents etc. Today, it is free and many of them are students of the temple affiliated kindergartens. Ages must be under eight.

URL: Taishakuten
Access: Shibamata Station on Keisei Kanamachi Line.
Telephone: 03-3657-2886 (Taishaku-ten Temple)
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The Peony Garden of Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine in Kamakura

The Peony Garden of Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine is open two times a year from New Year's Day to the middle of February, and from the beginning of April until the middle of May. Please check opening dates with the shrine since they differ each year based on the flowering of the peonies. The peony garden was completed in 1980 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

Accoring to the shrine, the peony flowers are in full bloom (April 20, 2017).

URL: Tsurugaoka Hachiman
Time: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Admission: 500 yen
Telephone: 0467-22-0315
Access: The Peony Garden is located inside the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine
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Peony (Botan) Garden of Nishi-Arai Daishi Temple

The Garden was opened to the public from April 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Peony flowers are in full bloom (April 20, 2017).
in 2016.

Peony is the national flower of China. The plant originally came to Japan from China where it was used for medicinal purposes. The plant grows to a height of six feet and puts gorgeous flowers. The main colours are red, pink, white, violet-red and black-red. The Peony Garden of Nishi Arai Daishi is the largest of its kind in Tokyo.

URL: Nishi Arai Daishi
Admission: Free
Access: Nishi-Arai Daishi Station on Daishi Line (extension from Nishi Arai Station) of Tobu Isezaki Line from Asakusa.
Telephone: 03-3890-2345 (Nishi Arai Daishi Temple)
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Botan (Peony) Festival
April 11 through May 10 (2017)
Peony flowers are in full bloom (April 20, 2017).
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The Botan Garden is located inside the compound of Ueno Toshogu Shrine, Ueno Park in Taito-ku

The Botan flowers at the garden are covered with umbrellas and shelters made of marsh-reeds. It is to protect the flowers from strong sunlights and rains according to the official.

200 kinds 3,000 plants some of them donated from China are opening their gorgeous flowers. Peony is the National flower of China.

URL: Ueno Toshogu
Access: Ueno Station on JR Yamanote Line. A few minutes walk from the Ueno Dobutsuen (Zoo) Exit of the station
Admission: 600 yen
Telephone: 03-3822-3575 (Peony Garden)/ Ueno Toshogu Shrine 03-3822-3455
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Tsutsuji Matsuri (Azalea Festival)
April 8 through May 5 in 2017
Nezu Shrine in Bunkyo-ku.
Azalea flowers are expected in full bloom late April in 2017.

The shrine is well known for its wealth of azaleas. About 3,000 bushes of 50 different kinds densely cover a gentle slope of the shrine compound. On Sundays and national holidays Japanese drum beatings, a koto concert, traditional dances are scheduled for visitors during the festival.

URL: http://www.nedujinja.or.jp/
The garden opens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: 200 yen. Access: Sendagi or Nezu Station on Subway Chiyoda Line. 10 minutes walk.
Telephone: 03-3822-0753/03-3822-8753
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Tatebayashi Azalea Festival
April 10-May 10, 2017
Tsutsuji-ga-oka Azalea Garden, Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture

From the middle of April through to the beginning of May, over fifty varieties of azaleas, some 10,000 plants in all, are in bloom. Best time to see is expected to be late April to early May Among them are old trees and plants more than four meters tall, and a group of giant Yamatsutsuji azaleas that are more than 800 years old, a variety not found elsewhere in the world. The place is specified as scenic place of Japan. (from Tatebayashi Tourism Association Pamphlet)

URL: http://www.city.tatebayashi.gunma.jp/tsutsuji/ (Japanese)
URL: http://www.utyututuji.jp/world/en.html (English)

Address: 3278 Hanayama-cho, Tatebayashi
Access: 40 minutes walk from Tatebayashi Station on Tobu Isezaki Line (shuttle bus during the azalea festival period April 10-May 10)
Admission: 620 yen
Telephone: 0276-72-4111 (Tatebayashi Sightseeing Association)
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Oiran Dochu (Reenacted parade of oiran courtesans in Edo Era) at Oku-Asakusa Komatsubashi Dori Street Yoshiwara area of Taito-ku
April 8 (Sat) at 12:30 p.m.

Yoshiwara (now part of the Senzoku, Taito-ku) was from the early years of the Edo period (1600-1868) until 1958 (prostition banned in Japan), the location of the most famous government licensed quarter of prostitutions in Japan.

It was not a simple collection of brothels, rather a highly sophisticated level of entertainment was offered here. New genres of music, art and literature developed around this place played a great role in the cultural history of Edo period.

Oiran, a high-class courtesans were expected to have a high level of culture to associate with customers of high ranking personnels in the society and wealthy merchants of Edo.

URL: http://asakusa-kannonura.jimdo.com/
Access: Subway Asakusa Station (10 minutes walk from behind the Sensoji Temple) or Subway Hibiya Line Iriya Station 15 minutes walk
Telephone: 03-3871-3591/ 03-3839-5229
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Shirasagi-no-mai (White Heron Dance)
April 9 (Sun) at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Taito-ku.

The dance was a ritual of Shintoism and has its roots in the Gion Festival of Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto back in the Heian Period (794-1185). The dance was recorded in Sensoji Keian Engi Emaki, an ancient picture scroll of the Sensoji temple. In 1968, the Asakusa Tourist Federation restored the dance in an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of Tokyo as the nation's capital.

The dance troup consists of 8 white heron dancers, 3 samurai warriors, 1 baton twirler, 1 grand umbrella holder, 19 musicians and guardian children of Sensoji Temple Kindergarten in traditional costumes.

The Shirasagi-no-mai is also performed in Sanja Matsuri in May and Tokyo Jidai Matsuri on Nov. 3.

URL: Sensoji
Access: Asakusa Station Subway Ginza Line, Toei (Metropolitan) Subway Asakusa Line and Tobu Isezaki Line.
Telephone: 03-3842-0181 (Sensoji Temple)/ Asakusa Kanko Renmei 03-3844-1221
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The SO-KEI Regatta
April 16 (Sun)
Course: The Sumida River from Ryogoku Bridge to Sakura Bridge near Asakusa

The three-kilo-meter race between the two prestigious private univiersities of Japan starts from the Ryogoku Bridge at 2:50 p.m. for the goal, Sakurabashi Bridge near Asakusa.

More than 10 races preceding the final race between the two colleges will be held starting at 9 a.m. The races will be between the teams of the two colleges - affiliated high schools, departments, female students, graduates, etc. plus a guest race between Tokyo University and Hitotsubashi University. Specutacular performances of cheering sections of the two opposing colleges will enjoy the spectators.

URL: http://www.the-regatta.com/
Access: Asakusa Station on Subway Ginza Line, Toei Subway Asakusa Line, Tsukuba Express and Tobu Isezaki Line.
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Asakusa Yabusame
April 15 (Sat) 1 p.m.
Sumida Park in Taito-ku

Sumida Park is located on both sides of the Sumida River and Yabusame takes place on Asakusa side of the park at 1 p.m.
Preceding the Yabusame, "Kusajishi" Japanese traditional archery from 11 a.m. to noon near the Sakurabashi Bridge.

Horseback archers depart Denpoin Temple at noon and parade to Sumida Park near Azumabashi Bridge. Yabusame is a warrior's form of religious exercise performed in shrine precincts by mounted archers who shoot at three stationary targets while riding a horse at a full gallop. The first recorded instance of yabusame goes back to 1096 performed in the presence of the retired emperor Shirakawa. The excitement and spectacle of yabusame are heightened by the riders' elegant attire. There are three families to inherit this history long art of Yabusame - the Miura, the Ogasawara and the Takeda.
Yabusame at Asakusa was performed by the members of the Ogasawara.

URL: Asakusa Yabusame
Nearest Stn: Asakusa on Subway Ginza Line, on Toei Subway Asakusa Line and Tobu Isezaki Line.
Telephone: 03-3844-1221 (Asakusa Kanko Renmei)

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Daidai Kagura
April 16 (Sun) at 2 p.m.
Shinagawa Jinja Shrine in Shinagawa-ku

The daidai kagura of Shinagawa Shrine is a designated as an important cultural asset of Tokyo. Kagura is sacred music and dance indispensable to shrine festivals. Its history is as old as the country. It first appeared in Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters written in the 8th century) in which God Ameno Uzume-no-Mikoto gave dance and song to urge God Amaterasu Omikami to reappear from the cave in which she was hiding.

There are two types of kagura. One is kagura-mai and the other sato-kagura. Kagura-mai is the original song and dance held to amuse the kami (shinto gods), and sato-kagura is to amuse the people visiting the shrine festivals. Daidai kakura of Shinagawa shrine belongs to the former.

URL: Shinagawa Shrine
Access: Shinbanba Station on Keikyu. 1 minute walk from the station.
Telephone: 03-3474-5575 (Shinagawa Shrine)
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Fuji (Wisteria) Matsuri
April 15 (Sat) through May 7 (Sun)
Kameido Tenjin Shrine, Koto-ku.
Wisteria flowers will be in full bloom in the last week of April, 2017.

The wisteria of the shrine was first planted about 350 years ago the same time when the shrine was built. It became popular among the people of Edo (Tokyo) during the Edo period (1603-1867).

Wisteria is a rapid growing vine and is used for covering courts, trellises, and passage ways. The blossoms hang down in festoon-like pendants and they are usually of a violet colour.

URL: Kameido Tenjin
Access: Kameido Station on JR Sobu Line. 15 minutes walk.
Telephone: 03-3681-0010 (Kameido Tenjin)
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Annual Spring Festival of Yasukuni Shrine
April 21 through April 23
Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda-ku.

The shrine honors those who had fought and gave their lives for Japan. It often stirs up an international controversy when the prime minister and cabinet members visit the shrine on this occasion.

The shrine was founded in 1869 and is dedicated to 2.5 million war-dead soldiers and other personnel.

URL: Yasukuni Shrine
Access: Kudan-shita Stn on Subways Tozai Line and Hanzomon Line.
Telephone: 03-3261-8326
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Annual Spring Festival of Yasukuni Shrine
April 21 through April 23
Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda-ku.

All the shinto shrines in Japan hold annual festivals in spring and autumn. In spring, they pray for a good harvest and in autumn, they thank for it to god.

Scenes visitors find different from other shrines at Yasukuni are figures of the veterans and bereaved family members of the deceased of former Japan's Imperial Army and Navy. The veterans and the survivors are aging and sooner or later people will not be able to see them at the shrine. It is throwing shadows on the future of the Yasukuni shrine.

URL: Yasukuni Shrine
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Yokohama Street Performances

April 15 (Sat) and 16 (Sun)
11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at Ishikawa Shopping Street, Ishikawa-cho/ Isezaki Mall 1.2 Street, Isezaki-cho/ Minato Mirai 21

April 22 (Sat) and 23 (Sun) 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at Yoshidamachi, Art and Jazz Festival

One of the biggest street performance festivals in Japan. The Yokohama Street Performance provides a vast variety of colors contributing towards a holiday atmosphere. The event is held at various places in Yokohama.

For details please check the website below. Every year, they have different programs.

URL: http://daidogei.jp/
Access: JR Negishi Line Ishikawa-cho Station for Ishikawa/ JR Negishi Line Kan-nai Station and Subway Minato Mirai Station for Isezaki Mall and Minato Mirai/ JR Negishi Line Kan-nai Station for Yoshidamachi (Noge)
Telephone: 045-662-0931
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Shoes Festival (Konkon Kutsu-ichi)
April 29 and 30, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Shoe Mikoshi at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Tamahime Inari Shrine
Kiyokawa, Taito-ku

This unique festival is held at Tamahime Inari Shrine in Kiyokawa, Taito-ku two times a year in April and November each on the last Saturday and Sunday by manufacturers of shoes, bags etc. to thank god and pray for their good businesses.
Also, a memorial service is held for the old footwears which people brought to the shrine for the repose of them. Around the shrine are many shoe manufacturers and during the festival, inside the compound of the shrine about 30 manufacturers and traders open shops and shoes are sold at bargain prices.
Women carry a mikoshi decorated with Cinderella's shoe. Each year about 50,000 people visit the shrine for the festival.

URL: Konkon Kutsu Ichi
Address: 2-13-20
Access: 10 minutes walk from Minami Senju Station on JR Joban Line and Subway Hibiya Line
Telephone: 03-3872-3411 (Festival Committee)/ 03-3872-3411 (Tamahime Inari Shrine)
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Confucian Festival at Yushima Seido (Confucian Sacred Hall) in Yushima, Bunkyo-ku.
April 23 (4th Sunday) from 10 a.m.

The festival dedicated to Confucious has its origin in ancient China where people made sacrificial offerrings of cows and sheep to Confucious and other saints. Today, at Yushima Seido they offer sake (rice wine), carp, fruits and vegetables to the saints. The first ceremony in Japan was performed personally by Hayashi Razan (confucian scholar) at his residence in 1633. In 1690, the Tokugawa shogunate founded Yushima Seido at this place as a national center for studies of Confucianism and the first Confucian festival took place in the following year.
The program of the ceremony included a greeting by the present 18th Tokugawa family head Tokugawa Tsunenari and a lecture on the Analects of Confucious by the professor emeritus of Tokyo University Yoshio Togawa.

URL: Yushima Seido
Confucian Hall Admission: Free
Open 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. (4 in winter)
Main Hall opens only on Saturday and Sunday.
Closed Aug. 13 through 17 in summer and Dec. 29 through 31 in the year-end
Address: 1-4-25 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku
Access: Ochanomizu Station on JR Chuo-Sobu Line, Ochanomizu Station on Subway Marunouchi Line and Shin Ochanomizu Station on Subway Chiyoda Line.
Telephone: 03-3251-4606 (Shibunkai)
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The 8th World Bonsai Convention, Saitama City (2017)
April 28, 29 and 30
Time: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. (5 p.m. on April 30)
Place: Saitama Super Arena, Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture.

The 8th World Bonsai Convention is held with participation of 1,200 bonsai enthusiasts from 40 countires and regions. Since the first convetion in 1989, The World Bonsai Convention has made a greater contribution not only to the spread of bonsai culture but also to international goodwill through cultural exchange among bonsai enthusiasts. (quoted from greetings by Yohei Kono, Honorary Chairman).
The convention is held once in four years at different places in the world.

URL: http://world-bonsai-saitama.jp/en/index.html
Access: Saitama Shin Toshin Station on JR Keihin Tohoku Line
Admission: 800 yen
Telephone: 03-3821-3059
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Kobudo (old martial arts of Japan)
April 29 (Every year the same day on the Showa-no-Hi Natinal Holiday)
Shinto ritual will be held at 10:30 a.m. and performances of kobudo from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m
Katori Jinja Shrine in Kameido, Koto-ku.

Katori Shrine of Kameido is very close to Kameido Tenjin Shrine. It would be nice to visit Kameido Tenjin also where Fuji (Wisteria) Matsuri Festival is going on now.

In the Edo peiriod (1600-1868), samurai warriors were required to learn six martial arts: sword play (kenjutsu now known as kendo), spearmanship, archery, horseback riding, jujutsu (now known as judo), and firearms.
After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the content of martial arts changed greatly and traditional budo was almost forgotten as not keeping up with the times. But, Kobudo did not follow the modern changes and continued to practice techniques preserving the original spirits and styles. Kobudo carries aspect of danger of real combat while modern martial arts put emphasis more on sports.

URL: Katori Jinja
Access: Kameido Station on JR Sobu Line. 15 minutes walk.
Telephone: 03-3684-2813 (Katori Jinja Shrine)
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Firemen's Annual Memorial Service
At Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Taito-ku

The event moved from Sensoji Temple in Asakusa to Yutenji Temple in Meguro-ku from 2016

The event is the memorial service for the 120 firemen who lost their lives in firefightings from the Edo period to the early Showa. Following the memorial service, a parade of "matoi" - traditional firemen's standard bearers and "hashigo nori" - acrobatic performances on bamboo ladders by the Edo Firemen's Culture Preservation Group.

URL: http://www.yutenji.or.jp/index.asp
Access: Yutenji, Toyoko Line from Shibuya
Telephone: 03-3712-9960 (Yutenji)
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Firemen's Annual Memorial Service
At Yutenji Temple in Yutenji, Meguro-ku
Date: April 29, Time: 11 a.m.
The event moved from Sensoji Temple in Asakusa to Yutenji Temple in Meguro-ku in 2016

The event is the memorial service for the 120 firemen who lost their lives in firefightings from the Edo period to the early Showa. Following the memorial service, a parade of "matoi" - traditional firemen's standard bearers and "hashigo nori" - acrobatic performances on bamboo ladders by the Edo Firemen's Culture Preservation Group.

URL: http://www.yutenji.or.jp/index.asp
Access: Yutenji, Toyoko Line from Shibuya
Telephone: 03-3712-9960 (Yutenji)
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Annual Spring Festival of Meiji Shrine
May 2 and 3
Bugaku will be performed before the festival on April 29 in 2017
Meiji Shrine in Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku

The shrine is dedicated to the momory of the Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. The shrine which is in the beautiful environment was built on November 1, 1920 after Emperor Meiji passed away in 1912 and his wife in 1914.

Festival Events (2017):
April 29 - Bugaku (ceremonial court dance and music) at 11 a.m.
May 2 - Morning Ceremony at 10 a.m./Noh and Kyogen (classical Japanese dance) at 11:45 a.m./ Afternoon Ceremony at 2 p.m./ Hogaku (classical Japanese theater) at 3:45 p.m.
May 3 - Grand Ceremony at 10 a.m./ Sankyoku (traditional Japanese theater) at 12 noon/ Satsuma Biwa (Japanese lute) at 2:30 p.m.

URL: Meiji Jingu
Address: 1-1 Kamizono-cho, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku
Access: Harajuku Station on JR Yamanote Line and Meiji Jingue Mae Station on Subway Chiyoda Line
Telephone: 03-3379-5511
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Yokonakaba Shishimai
Choenji Temple in Musashi Murayama City
April 29 (Every year the same day of the month).

The origin of the Yoko-Naka-Ba shishimai (lion dance) goes back to the year in 1752 when an epidemic broke out in the area and the villagers of three - Yokota, Nakamura and Baba offered a shishimai to god in pray for the suppression of the plague. Starting from Choenji Temple at 9 a.m., the shishimai troupe visits three shrines of each village.

Uniqueness of the shishimai here is the materials used for the hairs of shishi. They are made from wood shavings produced at the Ise Shrine to build new shrine buildings. Pieces of wood shavings picked up by people are believed to bring a good luck to them. People keep them as a good-luck charm.

Musashi Murayama is located in the western suburbs of Tokyo. The area used to be a farming area and now is a bed town of Tokyo.

Access: Tachikawa Bus from North Exit of JR Tachikawa Station (30 minutes bus ride, get off at Choenji Temple).
Telephone 042-560-6620 (Musashi Murayama History and Folk Arts Museum)
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Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)
April 14-May 5 (Best time to see will be the last week of April)
Tojotei in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture

The Tojotei, a well preserved residence and a garden, was a villa of the younger brother (Tokugawa Akitake) of the 15th and the last Tokugawa Shogun (Tokugawa Keiki). It is now owned by Matsudo City and is a nice picnic spot for the citizens of Matsudo.

Wisteria displayed here are all grown in pots. The Tojotei is located on top of a hill from where people can view the Edogawa River running just below and Mt. Fuji in front when the weather is fine.

URL: http://www.dream-flower.com/
Open: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed on Mon)
Access: 15 minutes walk from Matsudo Station on JR Joban Line.
Admission: 150 yen.
Telephone: 047-362-2050
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Wisteria at Ashikaga Flower Park
April 15-May 21 in 2017 (all day during the period)
Time: 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

The park contains eight thematic gardens delighting visitors with beautiful flowers all seasons. Must-see sights are the four large wisteria trellises. (full bloom expected late April to early May).

The giant 130 year wisteria tree was first located at the Hayakawa Farm of Horigome-cho in the midst of Ashikaga City but due to the urban developement plan of Ashikaga City, the jumbo wisteria tree was moved to the present site of Hasama-cho, Ashikaga, suburban areas of the city in 1997 and became the symbol of the newly opened park. Besides the wisterias, visitors can enjoy azaleas in full bloom at this time of the year.

Visitors at the park are also recommended to call at Kurita Museum. They have great collections of Imari and Nabeshima wares. Location is just across the train lines of JR Ryomo Line from the flower park.

URL: Ashikaga Flower Park
Address: 607 Hasama-cho, Ashikaga City, Tochigi Prefecture
Admission: 1,700 yen (varies depending on blooming of the flowers)
Access: Tomita Station on JR Ryomo Line
Telephone: 0284-91-4939
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