Yoyogi and Hisaya Odori parks get cultured during the summer

by Ayaki Kimura

Staff Writer

As one of the biggest tourist spots in Tokyo, Harajuku offers visitors endless consumerist pursuits — it’s certainly not a place for those who seek peace and quiet.

So, what if you need a break from shopping? Just head across the street to Yoyogi Park. The open, serene environment is a refreshing change from the mass of buildings crammed along Takeshita Street, and the locals spend a lot of the summer relaxing in its tree-filled spaces. If you’re still after a little action, though, Yoyogi Park is also popular for its multicultural festivals.

Often themed on different cultures, Yoyogi Park’s weekend festivals are lively events that promote tourism and internationalism. They’ll often include captivating performances, good food and numerous vendors selling country-themed gifts. So far nations covered here this year include Vietnam, Thailand and Jamaica. The events are held just outside of the park proper, but nothing beats grabbing some snacks before heading to a picnic.

These kinds of multicultural festivals are not limited to Tokyo; similar celebrations can also be found at other cities across the country.

Hisaya Odori Park, located in Nagoya’s Sakae area, will host a Thai Festival on June 20 and 21, and the Nagoya Oktoberfest from July 14 to 20.

There are also other park-centered events that don’t focus on multiculturalism. For example, one of the main events at Sapporo’s Odori Park will be Sapporo City Jazz, which starts July 9 and lasts until the end of the month.

Admission is usually free to park events, which are largely family friendly. Check park websites for a better idea of what’s going on. Get outside, enjoy some new food — and don’t forget the sun block.

For more information on cultural festivals, visit The Japan Times City Guide at