Many—if not most—Japanese may not know about this festival. Or the day that inspires it. But one mid-April weekend serves as the perfect opportunity for Earth-conscious people to converge on Yoyogi Park.
First held in 2001, Tokyo's Earth Day Festival welcomes more than 100,000 visitors over two days to teach them about how to live a greener life but more importantly, preserve the environment. The event features speakers, musicians and plenty of organic products (such as lip balm I purchased).
Held on the third weekend of April and totally free to attend, the Earth Day Festival is the perfect opportunity for businesses and organizations to flex their green muscles. Representatives from numerous non-profit organizations can be found at the NPO Village set up for the festival and you can learn about how they are acting sustainably or discover some fascinating events, such as the Tokyo Vegetarian Festival.
But if you're taking time to attend the festival, you'll obviously want to be entertained. Fortunately, the main stage hosts numerous performances throughout the two days by "Earth Conscious Artists" (as described on the festival's official website) and other musicians perform elsewhere in Yoyogi Park during the two days (such a funky didgeridoo set as well as two guitarists playing a Bob Dylan song at the Earth Day Festival I attended). If nothing else, you'll be introduced to some talented artists who just happen to be outside of the Japanese mainstream.
A great part of attending the Earth Day Festival—for me, at least—was the opportunity to munch on something not often found in Japan: delicious vegetarian food. Several stands at Yoyogi Park sell foods that will fill the stomachs of vegans and vegetarians. In addition, representatives from the Tokyo Vegetarian Society have manned a booth at the festival, and even distributed flyers promoting a running club for vegans and vegetarians. Those unable to make it out to Yoyogi Park but desperate for vegetarian options in the area can turn to the festival's official website as it lists several restaurants serving vegetarian food.
If you speak Japanese fluently, you'll have the opportunity to do more than just shop and listen to some speakers and music. Every year, the organizers accept applications for volunteers and roughly 600 people help the two-day event run as smoothly as possible.
It may be difficult to find Earth-conscious people and events with a "green" vibe in Japan, but they definitely exist. The Earth Day Festival is perhaps the biggest and most fun of them.
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I'm Rashaad, and I have plenty of experience with Japan. I still don't speak Japanese as well as I'd like, but that's another story. I was born in Yokosuka as my dad was in the U.S. Navy. After graduating from college, I worked at a private language school in Yokohama. After bouncing back and forth between the U.S. and France, I returned to Japan, working in Yamagata Prefecture as a member of the JET Program. I spent two years in Haguro, a village that merged into Tsuruoka. Haguro is a very lovely place. I'm excited to join Japan Tourist because I love telling Japan-related stories.