March is an incredibly busy time in Tokyo, but any springtime month is a popular choice for enjoying the city. My girlfriend and I had a lot of great experiences here that we cannot wait to share with you. You will find these events and locations absolutely memorable as they were some of our favorites while we took an excursion here during March.
Our Top Recommendations for Tokyo in March
This marks the beginning of Springtime in Japan which also brings about outdoor parties, festivals and excitement. Many locals favorite time of year, as the Hanami season comes into full bloom by the end of the month. Ensure you do not miss out on any of these special events happening in Tokyo this March.
Fire Walking Festival
One very notable event takes place at the Yakuo-In Temple on Mount Takao. Every year in March, the Yakuo-In does its purification ritual, which is quite fascinating for people to witness. This ritual is called the “Hiwatari-sai”, which actually means “fire-walking festival”. We were just in awe watching this ceremony take place. It all starts with a bonfire, where participants rub their body with sticks that are tossed into the fire. When the fire dies down, ascetic monks walk across hot coals in an event that is truly the biggest attraction of this fire-walking festival. When the coals cool off, attendees are welcome to walk on them as well but don’t worry it won’t burn your feet, just dirty it.
Cherry Blossom Viewing
March is also one of the best times to see the cherry blossoms that seem to line this city. Get there early, as many popular spots are reserved simply by placing a blanket with the party’s name on it or having someone at the spot to save it until all the other party arrives. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but the Japanese people actually have viewing parties to watch the trees come to life with their beautiful blossoms. During our visit, my girlfriend and I thought it wasn’t very important until we actually attended one of these viewing parties and really understood just how magical it truly was.
You can also attend the Omizutori Festival, which is a festival that welcomes spring to the area. There are quite a few fascinating rituals you can witness here that takes place across 14 days. One of the events that draws the biggest crowd takes place at the Todaiji Temple, where torches are burned alarmingly close to a 1,200 year old building made of wood, which causes a rain of sparks to flow down in a stunning display. The burning embers are meant to bestow visitors with another safe year. We were a little terrified at the enormity of the fire, especially being so close to an ancient building but that did not take away too much from just how incredible this experience was.
Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Day)
This is a huge event here in Japan, which leads into several events across this country that you will wish you had time to travel to all of these places at once. Girls will place traditional dolls outside as part of this tradition that are meant to hope for happiness and health. The custom began as a way to remove evil spirits from the house and celebrated by placing displays, eating and drinking. While these events are primarily family events, we did notice several amazing sights of our own during this adventure that helped us feel like we were a part of this tradition.
One day my girlfriend really loved while we were here was White Day. This part of the unique tradition of Valentine’s Day here in Japan is celebrated not only by couples, but singles as well. On February 14th, women will buy their loved ones chocolate and a month later men will buy a gift in return. White Day is a uniquely Asian holiday that has caught on in Korea also, specifically created for consumer purposes to buy more sweets. The gifts do not have to be limited to chocolate, you can also give candy, cookies, jewelry or dating couples can have a candlelit dinner at an elegant restaurant. Naturally, we participated in this fun event.
Tokyo St Patrick’s Day Parade
Finally, we were surprised that Japan had a large number of St. Patrick’s Day events with parades, which apparently is a big event in Tokyo. The largest by far is the Tokyo St. Patrick’s Day Parade which we attended in Omotesando. With over 15,000 participants and 50,000 spectators we were shocked but it did help us feel right at home here. The main strip of Omotesando is closed to traffic during the afternoon when Cheerleaders and marching bands dressed in green provide a highly festive atmosphere. Head over to the local pub to have a sleeve of Guinness afterwards. Cheers!