Thursday, Jul. 14, 2011


1 Koenji Awaodori
"You're a fool if you dance and a fool if you don't; so why not dance?" goes the motto at this annual dance extravaganza, which sees 12,000 dancers and musicians take to the streets of Koenji in western Tokyo. It's been held in the capital since the 1950s, but is an offshoot of the venerable Awaodori festival in Tokushima, and the intoxicating mix of movement, hollering and rhythm harks back centuries. Aug. 27 and 28; see

2 Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai
Summer in Japan is all about hanabi (fireworks), and the displays don't get bigger or better than the Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai, the annual pyrotechnic highlight held along the Sumida River. Huge crowds come to watch 20,000-plus rockets illuminate the city's eastern skies, and such is the event's popularity many revelers stake out a spot on the riverbank days in advance. Get there early. Aug. 27, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; see

3 Rooftop Beer Gardens
Let's be honest: you'll rarely beat the summer heat in Tokyo. But the seasonal rooftop beer gardens that open across town are good places to try. One of our favorites is BBQ and Beer Terrace 130 Days (yes, because it's open 130 days a year), on top of the Lumine Est department store in Shinjuku. Open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily until Sept. 30; tel: (81-3) 6273 2262.

4 The Tokyo Dome
In the impassioned world of Japanese baseball you either love or loathe Tokyo's Yomiuri Giants. Either way, the atmosphere becomes electric at the 55,000-seater Tokyo Dome on a sultry summer night as Japan's richest and most successful team struts its stuff. Night games commence at 6 p.m. and ticket prices start around $20. Just don't turn up in a Hanshin Tigers T-shirt. For more information, see

5 Mori Art Museum
Tokyo has no shortage of art hangouts to cool off in when the heat gets too much. A highlight is the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi, where through the summer they'll be showcasing young Japanese artist Yukihiro Taguchi's hip "performative installations," which combine elements of drawing, performance and animation. Admission is $18. Details at

6 Summer Sonic
Fuji Rock in Niigata prefecture is Japan's premier rock festival, but the two-day Summer Sonic in Makuhari Messe, 30 minutes from central Tokyo, comes pretty close. Headlining the 80 or so acts this year are the Strokes and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Other familiar names will include Suede, Ziggy Marley and Bootsy Collins. Aug. 13 and 14 from 11 a.m.; two-day tickets cost $335. More at

7 Ooedo Onsen Monogatari
Relaxation the traditional way is the appeal of this hot-spring complex cum theme park, a three-minute walk from Telecom Center Station on the Yurikamome monorail. Soak in one of the mineral-rich communal baths, have a massage, then chill out — beer in hand — in a cool summer kimono. Admission is $36 for adults, $20 for kids. See

8 Yakatabune
Splash out on a seafood dinner aboard a yakatabune, one of the old houseboats turned restaurants that cruise Tokyo Bay. Many run year-round, but come into their own in summer, when the cool ocean breezes offer some much needed respite from evening humidity. Most can lay on traditional musicians or geishas for an extra fee, if you fancy going all out. For a foreigner-friendly yakatabune, try Funasei, Dinner cruises cost $130.

9 Icebar Tokyo
From the same people who produce Sweden's Icehotel comes the coolest bar in Tokyo — literally. Everything there, from the tables to the glasses and even the sculptures, is made of ice. Cover charge is $45 and includes one drink. Reservations can be made at Open Monday to Thursday, 6 p.m. to 11:15 p.m., and Friday to Sunday, 4:30 p.m. to 11:15 p.m.

10 Hike Mount Takao
It's an easy climb up Mount Takao, one of Tokyo's highest points. The walk takes in the attractive Yakuoin temple and culminates at the 599-m summit with a view that stretches out west to Mount Fuji. Better yet, it's only an hour out of central Tokyo and the air is fresh and relatively cool. Start out from Takaosan-guchi Station on the Keio Line, about 50 minutes from Shinjuku, and make the trip on a weekday to avoid the crowds.