In Japan, the first week of May is known as Golden Week. It’s a collection of four national holidays within seven days, and one of Japan’s busiest holiday seasons. This Golden Week, one of my best friends from home, Lola, came to visit me in Tokyo. Many Tokyoites use Golden Week as an opportunity to get out of the city, but there’s a ton of fun stuff to do in Tokyo at this time – especially with a best friend at your side! Lola and I had so much fun together, eating all the food, taking all the pictures, and doing cute touristy best friend stuff. If you’re lucky enough to have your BFF with you during Golden Week like I was, here are 10 things to do together in Tokyo.
- Wear matching outfits
The true Tokyo best friend experience starts with matching outfits. In Japan, it’s very common to see best friends dressed in head-to-toe matching outfits. I mean, how else will everyone know you’re friends? It’s cute in a nauseating kind of way, something I would never do at home but can embrace fully in Japan. Before you and your bestie head out for your Golden Week adventures, make sure to don your best matching outfits.
- Take Purikura pictures
Okay, you and your BFF are all dolled up in matching outfits. Where to? Get yourselves to a Purikura parlour to document this cuteness. Purikura, the original Snapchat, are automated photo booths with features to enhance your face and add filters, stickers, and backgrounds. Before we were all adding the ubiquitous dog-eared filter to our Snap stories, Japanese school students were taking big-eyed, clear skinned, and oh so kawaii (cute) photos in Purikura booths. Spending an afternoon with your bestie in a Purikura parlor is one of the most Japanese things you can do.
- Admire the blooms at a flower festival
There are tons of flower festivals in and around Tokyo during Golden Week. Roses, tulips, baby blue-eyes… pick your favorite flower, and there’s probably a festival for it. We checked out the Kameido Tenjin Wisteria Festival in the Koto ward of Tokyo. The wisteria was little bloomed out but still gorgeous. We enjoyed the street food stalls and beer set up for the festival.
- Cool down with a matcha ice cream cone in Asakusa
Tokyo starts getting really hot during Golden Week. So while you’re out in Asakusa checking out Senso-ji temple and the view of Sky Tree, stop for a delicious matcha ice cream cone. It’s the perfect way to cool down and take a break from all the sightseeing. Bonus: the pretty green color looks great in photos.
- Drink beer at a rooftop beer garden
One of my favorite things about Tokyo is abundance of rooftop beer gardens, which are just starting to open up around Golden Week. Lola and I visited my favorite one, the Omohara Beer Forest atop the Tokyu Department Store in Omotesando. This cute rooftop patio has fantastic city views and craft beer from Yonayona Beer Kitchen. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the warm Golden Week weather with your bestie.
- Shop and eat crepes in Harajuku
For great shopping and people-watching, head to Harajuku’s famous Takeshita-Dori. The street is lined with many trendy shops, boutiques, used clothing stores, and crepe stands. It’s a center for Tokyo’s fashion-conscious teenagers, and the perfect place for you and your BFF to show off your matching outfits. Shop for some wacky things you never knew you wanted, admire the outfits, and enjoy a sweet, whip cream topped crepe.
- Day-Trip to Enoshima Island
Take your BFF on a day trip to Enoshima Island, a small, touristy island with a California beach town vibe. It’s only an hour from Tokyo by train and has a lot to offer for such a tiny place! Walk up the many steps of the peaceful Enoshima Shrine, and you’ll find the Enoshima Sea Candle, a lighthouse observation tower. The grounds are covered in lush garden, and the tower gives a stunning 360° view of the Sagami Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
- Have a yoga photo shoot in front of the Kamakura Daibutsu
Just a few train stops away from Enoshima you’ll find the Kamakura Daibutsu, a massive 13.35 meter bronze buddha statue. It’s an amazing sight, and the perfect backdrop for basic BFF Instagram photos. Would a visit to the buddha even be complete without asking strangers to take your photo while you and your bestie struggle to hold the perfect partner tree pose? Of course not.
- Ride the Cosmo Clock 21 ferris wheel in Yokohama
On your way back to Tokyo from Kamakura, why not stop in Yokohama to ride the Cosmo Clock 21 ferris wheel? The massive wheel, iconic to the Yokohama skyline, takes you up 100 meters into the sky and offers a gorgeous view of the Yokohama bay and Japan’s second largest city. It’s worth waiting in line for the clear car to get a completely unobstructed view.
- Drink overpriced but delicious pour-over coffee
Tokyo’s specialty coffee scene has exploded in recent years. There are tons of cute, hipster coffee shops where you can get a hand-dripped single-origin ethiopian or a limited-edition tonic cold brew, and talk with your BFF about the bright notes of oak and cherry in your coffee. Lola and I went to Light Up Coffee in Kichijoji, an adorable spot with pricy but undeniably delicious specialty coffee drinks.
What did you do this Golden Week? What would and your best friend do if you had a few days together in Tokyo? Let me know in the comments below!