Cinco de Mayo, while originally a commemoration of an unlikely victory for the Mexican Army against the then powerful French in 1862, has in the US become something of a large celebration for all things Mexico. As these things tend to go, Japan has taken the American interpretation of the holiday, and this year will see the fifth annual Cinco de Mayo festival held in Tokyo.
Claiming to be the “most international festival in Japan”, the festival of Mexican culture will have a wide array of delicious food from not only Mexico but also the US, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Jamaica, Colombia and, for some reason, Canada.
Once you have had your fill, you can burn off those extra calories by getting down to the music and dance from Central and South America. With a huge helping of salsa and samba, you can also move your body to some New Orleans jazz, soul, rock and much more. Of course, there is a good chance that you’re not much of a dancer, or maybe you just don’t know the moves of the dance styles. If that is the case, then you shouldn’t worry as there will be instructors on hand to gently introduce you to the various regional dances.
If you still need a bit of encouragement to move to the sexy beats, then a bit of Dutch courage may be in order, and as it happens, drinks play a big part at Cinco de Mayo. At the festival, you can enjoy craft beer and wine, but this wouldn’t be a Latin festival without a variety of exotic cocktails. Traditionalists may wish to stick to the Mexican classics of tequila and margarita, but the entire region is represented with a mojito, pisco sour, piña colada, Cuba libre, caipirinha and other tropical cocktails on offer. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available for those not wanting to indulge.
As if that wasn’t enough, there are also quite a few events for children to get involved in, making it a fun packed event for the entire family.
Cinco de Mayo Festival 2019
If the festival has whet your appetite for all things Mexican, you could try out one of these Mexican restaurants around the capital city. Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a few examples that you can find.
If you agree with The Great Bard that music is the food of love, then look no further than Tepito. Kumi Takizawa met Mexican mariachi singer Jesús Oroarite when she won a competition to see his band perform. She quickly found the way to his heart by learning to cook the food of his home country and now they are married and the owners of this authentic Mexican restaurant in Setagaya. Kumi makes annual trips to Mexico where she sources recipes for dishes – salada de nopales (cactus), flautas, sopes, chicharron, ceviche, tamales, pozole – you are unlikely to find anywhere else. As an added bonus weekends see live mariachi performances.
If there is one thing that Americans complain about dining out in Japan, it’s finding a decent burrito. Guzman y Gomez is an Australian chain that has set up in four locations in Tokyo following the wild success of their Shinjuku branch, and they provide just that. The newest store in Roppongi is spacious and bright with communal tables and counter seats mixed in among regular tables and chairs. Check out the reviews and you will find a long list of Americans praising its extensive menu. That the burritos come in for particular acclaim should come as no surprise.
How do you know when you are in a Mexican theme restaurant? When there are bright colors on the walls, even brighter cocktails in the glasses, and Day of the Dead figurines everywhere, that’s how. Junkadelic in Meguro-ku and Akasaka has all of the above. But they also have great Mexican food. If you are wanting quick service with the food plonked on your table, this may not be the choice for you. However, if you are willing to wait as, for example, the guacamole is crushed and prepared after you order, you are in for a fresh and tasty treat.
Image via http://www.cincodemayo.jp/english.html – screengrab (modified)