You’re probably a bit surprised, but the reality is, you shouldn’t be. St. Patrick’s Day has already established a large presence in 13 cities across Japan, and for the last four years the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Asia has been taking place in Tokyo.
The I Love Ireland Festival, which runs from March 18 to 19 in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park, has been steadily growing. This year the festival is expected to draw a record-breaking crowd, with festival organizer La Ditta Limited promising a fun, sports-filled and eco-friendly atmosphere for everyone.
What makes the I Love Ireland Festival in Tokyo so awesome is that it takes place on the same day as Omotesando’s Tokyo St. Patrick’s Day Parade (March 19). Billed as the biggest Irish event in Japan, it will include a host of Japanese and Irish performers, athletes and celebrities. The parade has become so popular that businesses such as Don Quijote, Kishi’s and Claire’s have joined in on the celebration and have begun selling St. Patrick’s Day merchandise.
Combining both the festival and the parade on the same day means you can enjoy even more excitement—and, of course, green beer and some lovely Irish whiskey!
Gettin' Jiggy Wit It
Irish jig dancers will be accompanied by flutes, violins and uilleann pipes played by both Japanese and Irish bands. The dancers will be made up of students from an Irish dance school based in Japan, but if you’re keen on partaking in the action, lessons will be held to teach you how to jig, too!
To add to the entertainment, Miss World Japan, Priyanka Yoshikawa, and Miss World Ireland, Niamh Kennedy, will be hosting a live talk show. The two will discuss various topics and commemorate 60 years of diplomatic relations between their two countries.
Bring Your Cleats, Mouth Guard & Jersey
Ever since Japan stunned the rugby world by beating South Africa in 2015, the sport has been gaining a much stronger presence within the Japanese community. This has helped nurture a shared bond between both Japan and rugby-loving Ireland.
Ireland will host the Women’s Rugby World Cup in August 2017, and Japan will host the Men’s Rugby World Cup in 2019. Thus, it’s only fitting that this year’s festival will have the Japanese women’s rugby team join a talk show on the main stage along with men’s star player Akihito Yamada. As an added bonus, you can join in on the fun and participate in organized street rugby in Yoyogi Park. Oh, and just in case you're wondering—it will be non-contact.
Also on the radar will be Gaelic football, Ireland’s most popular sport. It will include members of the Japan Gaelic Athletic Association, and of course, you’ll be able to participate as well!
Come Out & Party
From folk music to organized rugby, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find any excitement at this year’s upcoming St. Patrick's Day. So what are you waiting for? Go grab some leprechaun hats, rugby cleats and lucky charms and get ready to celebrate!
This year’s I Love Ireland Festival will will surely be the most memorable one yet. And best of all, it’s free to attend!