5 glittering Golden Week outings for Tokyo's travel-averse set

5 glittering Golden Week outings for Tokyo's travel-averse set

We take you from the Milky Way to Okinawa without ever leaving the city limits

1. Tokyo Midtown Open the Park

Tokyo MidtownBooks and booze in the sunshine? Shurely shum mishtake?Where? Tokyo Midtown (d'uh!). An easy stroll from Roppongi or Nogizaka stations.

What? Take advantage of the forecast of clear Golden Week skies and enjoy free yoga classes held on the shopping center’s wide lawns, led by a lineup of 13 international instructors (daily 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.).

After the lesson, grab some refreshments at the Hakushu Midpark café or the German-themed Wurstmarkt.

The literarily-inclined won’t want to miss the free Park Library, which will be lending 40 baskets each containing a leisure sheet activity guide, plus three books selected around a given theme.

When? Until May 8 (Hakushu Midpark Cafe until May 15)
How much? Free. Website 

2. Roppongi Hills Sky Planetarium II

Mori Arts CenterReach for the sky. Then for the jumbo popcorn and bucket of chicken wings in the comfy Sky Planetarium.Where? Mori Arts Center Gallery, Mori Tower 52/F. Direct access from Roppongi station.

What? The second incarnation of the venue’s innovative planetarium exhibit. Rather than sitting quietly as the stars flash by above, visitors to the Sky Planetarium participate in a “3D sky walk” through the universe.

The showy go-round boasts an upgraded tour of the cosmos, featuring the beloved Big Dipper and other summer constellations.

During Golden Week only, the rooftop heliport will also be open for some actual stargazing (and if the city lights happen to interfere, the stunning view of the Tokyo skyline is still well worth it).

When? Until June 26, Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday and holidays 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Rooftop stargazing: April 29-May 4, 7:30-9 p.m.

How much? Adults ¥1,800, College/High School ¥1,300, age 4 to Junior High School ¥800. Website

3. Doki Doki Flea Market

Makuhari MesseNo fleas on us -- Makuhari will be buzzing during Golden Week.Where? Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Halls 1-8. Easy access from Tokyo via the JR Keiyo line to Kaihin-Makuhari station.

What? Clocking in at nearly 3,900 booths over its three-day run, this is one of Kanto’s largest and most popular flea markets.

Special areas include a Kids’ Corner with plenty of vendors peddling child-friendly goodies, as well as sections devoted to secondhand books, collectibles and hand-crafted art.

Also, MOR radio station bayfm will commandeer the stage area with performances by a variety of artists and DJs.

Those feeling a bit peckish can head over to the Makuhari Umaimon Matsuri, featuring a goodly spread of local specialties and other “umaimon,” aka “yummy stuff.”

When? May 3-May 5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

How much? Adults ¥500, kids free. Website

4. Meiji Jingu Haru no Taisai

Meiji JinguMeiji Jingu offers an oasis of calm amid the aural assault of Harajuku.Where? Meiji Jingu shrine, Harajuku. Located directly outside the newly merged Harajuku and Meiji Jingu-mae stations.

What? This annual spring festival is one of Meiji Jingu’s grandest annual events -- which, at this historic temple, is really saying something. There’s plenty to entertain both recent arrivals and old Japan hands alike, from the traditional Imperial court music known as bugaku, to Satsuma biwa concerts and Noh performances.

Japan’s martial arts are also represented, with the shrine’s annual spring kyudo archery tournament.

When? April 29-May 3.
How much? Free. Website

5. Haisai Festa

La Cittadella"Awamori" -- just remember that key word when you check out the Okinawan beverages.Where? La Cittadella, Kawasaki. It’s an easy five-minute stroll from Kawasaki Station to this shopping complex.

What? We may feel a slight twinge of jealousy over those coworkers whose Golden Week plans include a fantastic Okinawan getaway, but is it really worth all the hassle that comes with air travel these days?

Fortunately, the Haisai Festa offers a mini tropical island getaway that’s a lot closer to home. Five of the top Eisa teams (a Ryukyu folk dance) will show off their moves, bright costumes and Okinawan-style drumming during twice-daily parades down Cine Citta Dori.

At the outdoor market, sample an array of island specialties including local fruits, Okinawan soba, goya champuru, and of course plenty of awamori for the boozers.

Other highlights include a paint-your-own Shisa statue booth, Eisa workshops for the little ones and the Ryukyu Nouvelle Vague Film Festival, which will screen, among others, “Yagi no Bouken,” the surprise hit by precocious teenage director Ryugo Nakamura.

When? May 3-May 8.

How much? Free. Website