Top of the morning to you! It's time once again to put on your green clothes, drink down some green beer, and chase a little green man back to his pot of gold. It's St. Patrick's Day, and Tokyo's biggest celebration is happening in Yoyogi Park.
St. Patty's Day celebrates Irish culture and heritage all around the world, and though it hasn't quite become as well-recognized a tradition in Japan as it has elsewhere, that doesn't mean you have to go without your corned beef this March. The "I Love Ireland" festival is a hub for all things Irish, and is a great addition to the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade held down Omotesando Street.
The festival is a collection of all things Irish. Food stands sell corned beef, colcannon, rasher sandwiches, Irish stew, and more. Vendors are lined up selling a wide variety of Irish and Irish-themed goods. Want some authentic Irish tea, clothing, or Celtic music CDs? How about an "Ireland" football scarf, or a fake leprechaun's beard? This is the place to buy it.
Of course, it wouldn't be a true St. Patrick's Day party without the alcohol. From stout to cider, you can find a wide variety of Irish booze here. Hot coffee spiked with Jameson whiskey and whipped cream? Got that, too. And of course, the green beer flows like a river.
There are some fantastic performances as well, both on the main events stage in the park and also on many small, makeshift performance areas around the festival grounds. Irish culture is known for a variety of forms of dance, and they're all on display in magnificent, impressive form. A lineup of musical performers play everything from traditional Irish flute music to Celtic-themed punk bands.
Another of the many great things about the I Love Ireland festival is its authenticity. From the cooks to the dancers to the people handing out fliers, a great many of the staff and volunteers here are Irish (read: English-speaking), which is a welcome sight from the many "international" events that sometimes have few international folks involved.
The event is held on the nearest weekend to St. Patrick's Day (March 17). Entrance is free. It is held in the event square near the permanent stage in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, near the NHK building. It is about a 5 minute walk from Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line) or Meijijingumae Station (Chiyoda Line), and a 10 minute walk from Yoyogi-hachiman Station (Odakyu Line).