Tokyo in Spring – Things to Do in Tokyo in Spring

There's plenty to keep you busy during springtime in Tokyo. Use our guide to Tokyo in spring to discover the best of it.

Japan’s cherry blossoms (sakura) attract millions each spring. However, spring in Japan is much more than this. Its festivals, seasonal activities and food also make it into arguably the best time of year to visit the country. We’ve got the definitive guide to spring in Japan’s capital, packed full of things to do and see. 

Japan defines its seasons differently than in western countries. As a result, spring starts in February and ends in May.

Tokyo Spring Calendar
Event Date*
Setsubun February 3
National Foundation Day February 11
Valentine’s Day February 14
Tokyo Marathon February 28
Hina Matsuri March 3
White Day March 14
Spring Equinox Day March 20
Earth Day April 23
Showa Day (Golden Week) April 29
Constitution Day (Golden Week) May 3
Greenery Day (Golden Week) May 4
Children’s Day (Golden Week) May 5
Mother’s Day May 8
Sumo Summer Basho May 8
Sanja Matsuri May 13
Kanda Matsuri May 15 (odd years only)

*Dates are subject to change.

Golden Week starts on Showa Day and ends on Children’s Day. During this period, the whole of Japan – from students to businessmen – is on holiday. If you’re going to travel at this time, expect crowds. 

Another notable occasion is Valentine’s Day. Roles are reversed in Japan, with women giving men chocolates and other treats. Women have to wait for White Day for their gifts from men. 

Without further ado, here’s the list:  

1. Walk on Fire

Photo Credit: stan chow via Flickr cc

Located on Mount Takao, Buddhist temple Yakuo-in hosts Hiwatari-sai (fire-walking festival) on the second Sunday of March each year.

During this event, monks walk across hot coals to purify themselves. After the coals have cooled down, onlookers are allowed to walk across them too! 

2. Dig for Clams

Photo Credit: yo & via Flickr cc

From March to June, families go to the beach to dig for clams (shiohigari in Japanese). Popular shiohigari spots around Tokyo include Odaiba Seaside Park and Jonanjima Seaside Park

3. Pick Strawberries

Provided by Foursquare

Niikura Farm

It’s strawberry season! Fruit in Japan is infamously expensive but picking your own is pretty cheap.   

Recommendation:

Niikura Farm (新倉農園)

Open from mid-February to late May, Niikura Farm charges 300 yen for every 100g of strawberries picked.

Address: 1179 Ochikawa, Tama, Tokyo 206-0015

4. Eat Seasonal Foods

Photo Credit: Ishikawa Ken via Flickr cc

Fukinoto

Spring bamboo shoots are to die for, literally. Recently, a few old Japanese folks got killed by a bear while looking for them (click here to learn more). Another popular seasonal food is fukinoto (or Japanese butterbur) which is often prepared tempura-style. These vegetables can be bought at the farmer’s market at UNU which opens for business every Saturday and Sunday.     

5. Participate in the Tokyo Marathon

Tokyo Marathon

Photo Credit: Carlos Donderis via Flickr cc

Athlete or not, anyone can embrace the festive atmosphere of the Tokyo Marathon. Head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building at 9:10 am to cheer on runners as they begin the marathon. Alternatively, volunteer to lend a hand or run it yourself by registering on their website

6. Watch Sumo Summer (Natsu) Basho

Photo Credit: mamichan via Flickr cc

Held in May at Ryogoku Kokugikan, this is one of only six annual sumo tournaments. Watch two giants wrestle each other out of bounds or to the ground with the help of our  Japanese sports guide.

7. See Cherry Blossoms

Photo Credit: kanegen via Flickr cc

Have yourself a flower viewing party (hanami). Cherry blossoms start blooming from late March to mid-April and popular hanami spots include Ueno Park (featured in our parks and gardens guide) and Naka-Meguro’s promenade.

In addition to cherry blossoms, numerous other gorgeous flowers such as violets and red tulips bloom in spring too. To find out more, you can check out our flower guide.    

8. Attend Festivals (Matsuri)

Tokyo holds a myriad of festivals throughout the year and spring is no different. Check out our guide on how best to have fun at these festivals. 

Below is a list of recommended festivals:

Setsubun

Photo Credit: Masayuki Takaku via Flickr cc

Zojoji

The day before spring, people celebrate Setsubun by throwing soybeans to ward off evil spirits and bring about good fortune. Thousands of people each year go to Buddhist temples such as Sensoji and Zojoji to attend these festivities. 

Hina Matsuri

Photo Credit: autan via Flickr cc

Also known as Doll’s Day or Girl’s Day, families celebrate Hina Matsuri by displaying dolls of the Emperor, Empress, court attendants and musicians. It’s also customary to drink shirozake (fermented rice sake) and eat clams.    

Earth Day

Earth Day

Photo Credit: Anna Lee via Flickr cc

Head to Yoyogi Park to celebrate Earth Day, a global and increasingly prescient event. Watch activists talk on a stage powered by renewable energy and enjoy some planet-friendly food (take your own utensils for extra environmental kudos). 

Children’s Day

Photo Credit: Yoshikazu TAKADA via Flickr cc

To celebrate Children’s Day families hang up carp streamers (koinobori) said to symbolize bravery and perseverance. In addition, it’s customary to eat rice cakes (mochi) wrapped in oak leaves.   

Sanja Matsuri

Photo Credit: Yoshikazu TAKADA via Flickr cc

Attracting over a million locals and foreigners, Sanja Matsuri is held to commemorate the founders of Sensoji (featured in our temples and shrines guide).

Starting from Sensoji, portable shrines (mikoshi) make their way around the Asakusa district carried by men, women and children alike. 

Kanda Matsuri

Photo Credit: masaru minoya via Flickr cc

This major Shinto festival is only held on odd years to celebrate shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu’s victory at the battle of Sekigahara. Over 200 mikoshi parade around the city but the heart of the festival is at Kanda Shrine which was used by Ieyasu himself.  

Things to Do in Tokyo

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