Summertime means a stream of international festivals at the event square in Yoyogi Park, a lively collection of good food, good music, good shopping, interesting performances, and some imported beer to top it all off.
With that criteria, the Japan-Indonesia Friendship Festival nails it.
Entering the festival, the first thing that hits you is the delicious smells wafting from the food stands. Tokyo's Indonesian restaurants are here representing the best they've got, from nasi-goreng (stir-fried rice and spices) to sate (skewered meat). Coconut, mango, and rich, complex spices are ubiquitous, as are the little chili pepper illustrations that they put on menus to tell you which dishes are hot. For some of us, even Tokyo's hot and humid Julys aren't enough to keep us from wanting to sweat even more. Most dishes were being sold for about ¥500, as were bottles of Bintang, an Indonesian beer. Indonesians must be friendly people, as they invited some of their South East Asian neighbors to the festival. Thai, Vietnamese and Indian food stands were also in attendance.
The shopping stalls were plentiful, offering a mix of crafts, jewelry, and earthy, bohemian-colored clothes. One stand featured some neat traditional musical instruments, and another was offering henna art. There was incense, there were toys, and there were plenty of Bintang merchandise.
The stage also featured a full lineup of performances. Dancers in full Indonesian costumes danced and posed to traditional music, and quite honestly put on a heck of a show. A Japanese group played some traditional festival music as well.
The Japan-Indonesia Friendship Festival is held on a Saturday and Sunday in mid-July. This annual event was moved from its previous home at Tokyo Midtown to Yoyogi Park in 2013, the year that also marked the 50th anniversary of cordial relations between the two countries.
Entrance to the festival is free. It is held in Yoyogi Park around the permanent main stage set up 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).