Situated south of Shinjuku, north of Shibuya and just west of Harajuku, the expanse of lush greenery, rolling hills and clear ponds, Yoyogi Park serves as an oasis of refreshing nature in the concrete jungle known as Shibuya Ward. It’s also the home of Meiji Jingu, the shrine dedicated to the Meiji Period Emperor and a national landmark. But did you know that during the warmer months, Yoyogi also becomes a place where you can visit the world just by taking a stroll in the park?
Countries from Thailand to Brazil hold bazaars and festivals in Yoyogi Park almost every weekend at this time, usually sponsored by their embassies, tourism boards and corporations both domestic and abroad. It is a great chance to learn about other places, listen to some good music and of course, eat lots of different food! Here’s a short list of what’s on deck at Yoyogi Park in the next few months:
Cambodians from around the community always gather at this event. Expect lots of stands selling tasty Cambodian food along with stage shows.
Oh boy, sooooo many food stands selling yummy curry and Thai coffee! And the performances are not to be missed!
Okinawa actually used to be a different country and its native people share a different history; this is part of the allure of Okinawa that Japanese still have to this day. Here’s a chance to check it all out without needing to go to Haneda Airport!
Reggae bands on stage, check. Jerk chicken and meat patties, check. Finding out there’s more love for the Caribbean nation of Jamaica in Japan than a little bit, CHECK!
Rounding out the month will be a chance to learn about Laos and its culture.
This annual tradition starts with a parade down Omotesando Boulevard from Aoyama, through the Omotesando and Harajuku districts and into the park. Participants from all over the world have been coming to make this a very large event, and the general public is invited to join in.
Any excuse to try all the different kinds of Pho and Vietnamese deli sandwiches are not needed now, just come to Yoyogi on these days!
If you have a love for samba, capoeira, and hanging out with a few representatives from one of Japan’s largest immigrant communities, then you can’t miss this one. Sometimes over 100,000 attend. I can attest to having some of the best plantains and BBQ at this one myself.
Celebrate West African cultures and have a taste of food and music from Senegal, Ghana and Cote D’Ivore including a fashion show and drum performances.
Do you like the beach life, with its azure waves, silky sands and the summertime sun perched in the sky? Of course we could just go to Enoshima or Kyujukyurihama but let’s hang out in Yoyogi and bring the beach to the city!
Speaking as someone who lived in Taiwan for a minute, you must come to Yoyogi this weekend if you can’t make it to Formosa in person. There’s more to our sister country to the south than danbing and soy milk breakfasts or dim-sum dinners… There’s also beef noodles! Seriously, come check it out.
Sri Lanka themed event with lots of curry and a dance show.
Kochi, located on the island of Shikoku is famous for its Yosakoi Festival, becoming one of the 10 largest summer festivals in Japan. Not to be outdone, our little Yosakoi festival takes place in five different spots around the Harajuku and Omotesando districts including Yoyogi park. Grab your naruko and prepare to cheer the dancers on!
Access: 3 mins walk from Harajuku, Yoyogi Koen, or Meijijingu Stations. (JY, C, F Subway lines)
– By Jason L. Gatewood
Images: Scenes from various Yoyogi Park events; Jason L Gatewood