Must see: Things to do this week in Tokyo

Midpark Yoga

Wed May 1 – Wed May 22, 2013 Tokyo Midtown (Grass Square)

Limber up with a few hundred other Tokyoites at these outdoor yoga sessions, held on the verdant lawns around the back of Tokyo Midtown. There’ll be morning gatherings held during Golden Week and on the second weekend of May (9.30am-11am), plus evening sessions on every Wednesday until May 22 (7.30pm-8.30pm). Attendance is limited to 500 people, which sounds like a lot to us, but it might be worth turning up early if you want to be guarantee your spot.

Hibiya Oktoberfest

Until Sun May 26, 2013 Hibiya Park

Never mind that it’s a few months early: this Hibiya Park reincarnation of Munich’s notorious beer festival is one of the highlights of the spring in Tokyo. The annual bacchanal lures throngs of office workers, fräuleins andmen with impressive beards with the promise of sausages, oom-pah music and quality German beer served from hefty glass tankards (note that you’ll have to pay a refundable ¥1,000 deposit each time you order one). There’s always a strong showing by German breweries, plus local heavyweights like Sankt Gallen and Fujizakura Heights, with a few beers that aren’t available anywhere else… well, except in Munich.

We went to the October fest today and it was a blast! To see the pictures, click here.

Japan Art Association 125th Anniversary Show

Until Sun Jul 14, 2013 Ueno Royal Museum

Swoon over a selection of exquisite paintings, ornaments and kimono from the Meiji era onwards, at this 125th anniversary exhibition organised by the Japan Art Association, the Ueno Royal Museum’s sugar daddies.

Eat the Lotteria bizarre new ramen burger

 Is it the future of fast food, or just noodles in a bun?
Lotteria introduces bizarre new ramen burger

Two of the world’s greatest fast foods have finally been united. On May 20, Japanese fast food chain Lotteria – whose recent culinary atrocitiesinnovations include the nine-patty Evangelion: Q cheeseburger – will be launching what’s being billed (inaccurately, we might add) as the first ever ramen burger. They’ve even got a famous noodle shop to help them out, Shinjuku’s Menya Musashi.

Drum roll, please… The Menya Musashi Ramen Burger (¥634) comes as a lightly charred noodle patty, topped with a slice of well-stewed chashu pork and served in a bun smeared with mayonnaise. This unlikely concoction is accompanied by a side order of katsuo (bonito) flavoured soup, and – in keeping with time-honoured ramen traditions – you can get an extra ‘kaedama‘ serving of noodles (well, a noodle patty) for ¥100.

The ramen burger will be on sale until mid-June, by which point savvy consumers should have realised that it isn’t all that different from an old convenience store staple, yakisoba pan.

See the Lotteria website for more details

The Menya Musashi Ramen Burger: this spring’s most confusing fast food

4th AQFF Asian Queer Film Festival

Fri May 24 – Sun Jun 2, 2013 Cinem@rt Roppongi

Filmmakers from countries including South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong and Cambodia are taking part in this year’s AQFF, a biennial festival that sheds light on the range of LGBT experiences in Asia. Tanwarin Sukkhapisit’s ladyboy-themed It Gets Better opens the festival, while One Night and Two Days, a trio of shorts by gay cinema pioneer Lee Song Hee-Il, closes the proceedings the following weekend. Films to look out in between include Kim Jho Kwang-soo‘s Two Weddings and a Funeral – a feelgood romcom in which the main characters happen to be gay – and Saratsawadee Wongsomphet’s Yes or No, So I Love You, which holds the distinction of being Thailand’s first film to feature lesbian protagonists (the 2012 sequel is also showing). All films screened with English subtitles.

Great French Paintings from the Clark

Until Sun May 26, 2013 Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo

It may be a three-hour schlep from New York and Boston, but that hasn’t stopped Williamstown’s Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute from becoming a magnet for academics, thanks mainly to its superlative collection of French paintings. When work began on renovations and a new Tadao Ando-designed facility in 2010, it prompted the Clark to begin its first-ever international touring exhibition of these masterpieces. Arriving in Tokyo this February, Great French Paintings from the Clark offers local audiences their first glimpse of over 70 pieces from the Institute’s collection, including 22 by Renoir.

Ginza Théâtre Cinema closing event

Until Thu May 30, 2013 Ginza Théâtre Cinema

Another Tokyo arthouse cinema takes its final bow this month, as the Ginza Théâtre closes its doors after 27 years of dedicated service. The 150-seat picture house is dusting off some old favourites in the run-up to its final day on May 31, including John Cassavetes’ Opening Night, Pedro Almodóvar’sBad Education and Talk to Her and François Ozon’s 8 Femmes. Screenings start at 8.40pm, with a different film each evening (except May 17), and there’ll also be a pair of Saturday all-night sessions dedicated to Jacques Demy and Ken Loach, respectively.

May 11: Opening NightMay 12: Bad Education (La Mala Educacion); May 13: MaelströmMay 14: Talk to Her (Hable con Ella); May 15: The World;May 16: L’Enfer May 18: Belle ToujoursMay 19: Honey (Bal); May 20:Another YearMay 21: Summer Hours (L’heure d’été); May 22: Pingpong;May 23: Let the Right One InMay 24: Coffee and CigarettesMay 25:HodejegerneMay 26: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (4 Luni, 3 Saptamini si 2 Zile); May 27: La Ragazza del LagoMay 28: 36th Precinct (36 Quai des Orfèvres); May 29: The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band); May 30: 8 Femmes

May 18 (all night): Belle de JourThe Young Girls of Rochefort (Les Demoiselles de Rochefort); Donkey Skin (Peau d’âne)

May 25 (all night): It’s a Free World…The Wind That Shakes the Barley;Route Irish

Yokohama Handmade Marche

Sat May 25 – Sun May 26, 2013 Pacifico Yokohama
Over 1,000 creative types from around the country will be heading to Pacifico Yokohama for this weekend extravaganza dedicated to all things handmade. Browse through market stalls displaying original creations ranging from handicrafts and art to fashion and food, or learn a few tricks of the trade at workshops on topics ranging from leatherwork to making iPhone cases (advance reservation required).

Okinawa Matsuri

Sat May 25 – Sun May 26, 2013 Yoyogi Park
It’s the chilled-out holiday destination of choice for Japanese people who don’t have passports (and plenty of people who do), but could Okinawa also be the solution to the nation’s spiritual malaise? That seems to be what the organisers of this free festival are proposing: in a surprisingly high-mindedmessage on the event’s official website, head honcho Hiroaki Hobo laments the country’s high suicide rate and widespread sense of hopelessness, before proposing that the solution may lie in the former Ryukyu Kingdom. Head to Yoyogi Park on May 25 and 26 to get a taste of Okinawa living, hear music from the likes of D51 and Flip, slurp soba and cure your existential doubts (maybe).

Tokyo Port Festival (Minato Matsuri)

Sat May 25 – Sun May 26, 2013 Harumi Port Terminal and surrounding area
You’ll find a variety of family-friendly activities at this nautical festival, which commemorates the opening of Tokyo Port in 1941. One of the highlights is the firefighting pageant held from 10.30am on Sunday, in which the emergency services demonstrate their waterborne prowess, culminating in a display of fire boats shooting coloured jets of water while helicopters hover overhead.

May Grand Sumo Tournament

Until Sun May 26, 2013 Ryogoku Kokugikan
Japan’s sumo wrestlers return to the Ryogoku Kokugikan for their annual May tournament this month, the highlight of which is likely to be seeing whether hapless ozeki Kotooshu manages to avoid demotion after a disastrous showing in March. Hakuho and Harumafuji are once again duking it out at the top yokozuna rank, while handsome Shimane-born wrestler Okinoumi Ayumi makes his debut as a komusubi, the fourth highest rank. There are cheap ¥2,100 tickets available on the door each day, though get there early if you’re hoping to score one – especially at the weekend. Note that while the tournament starts at 9am each morning, the top ranked wrestlers don’t come out until around 4pm.

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