One of my favourite things to do on a weekend in Tokyo is head to Yoyogi Park. A quick walk from Harajuku station and you're in an oasis of green in the center of the city. Yoyogi Kouen is a fantastic spot for people watching: all types of people come out with their friends, lovers, families, and pets to spend a little time on the grass to unwind at the end of the week. You can watch the rockabilly dancers do their thing near the entrance of the park, join a drum circle near the fountains, and hoolahoop or play frisbee on the grass. Yoyogi Park is a lovely place to have a picnic, and you can bring along a bottle of wine, a few cold beers, or a sweet umeshu to savor on the grass. I love that drinking outside is allowed in Japan, and have always thought it rather annoying that my hometown (Vancouver) 's laws prohibit this, though it would probably be more appropriate to direct my disapproval at the kind of hooliganism (rioting because you lost a hockey game?!?) that makes these laws necessary.
Another cool thing about Yoyogi Kouen is that nearly every weekend of the warmer months has some event happening in Yoyogi Park event square, just across the road in the south end of the park. There are cultural festivals, with plenty of stands selling food and drinks from the country of the week, as well as shops selling other items like clothes, accessories, and groceries. You can get information on travel, as well as learn about NPOs and community groups with links to the featured country.
The food at these events caters to Japanese tastes, so there usually aren't a ton of vegetarian meal options. When I go I like to try interesting sweets or drinks that can't usually be found in Japan. At the Indonesian festival last weekend, for example, I had a yummy avocado smoothie drizzled with chocolate sauce.
These events are a great, very cheap (free entry, it'll only cost you what you eat) option for an outing in Tokyo. I also love that at these events, you see a more relaxed side of Tokyoites than usual, and people can be seen to be doing such things as (gasp!) sitting on the ground (even without a leisure sheet!) and eating.
Yoyogi Park upcoming event schedule ( summer 2011)
21st (Thurs) - 25th (Mon) Yoyogi Park Oktoberfest
30th (Sat) - 31st (Sun) Morning Market Earthday
13th (Sat) - 14th (Sun) India and Africa
I heard that, in order to conserve power, this year some of the cultural festivals will be sharing a day. I'm guessing that's the reason for this pairing. Of course, the Indian festival should be better than most for vegetarian options!
21st (Sun) Morning Market Earth Day
17th (Sat) - 18th (Sun) Vietnam
23th (Fri) - 25th (Sun) Namaste India
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Hope to see you there!!!