The madness of Halloween might be over, but November events in Tokyo offer their fair share of fun, festivities and all that other good stuff. It’s the best time of year for 紅葉 (koyo)—the viewing of autumn leaves, but on the days when you’re not getting out into nature, you’ll want to take note of these fun November events in Tokyo (and maybe the bonus ones at the bottom, too). Get scrolling, cheapos.
1. Dream Yosacoy Festival (Nov 1–3)
One of our favorite types of Japanese dance festivals, yosakoi (yep, that’s how it’s usually spelled) is an explosion of catchy beats, cool fashion, crazy hair and well-choreographed dance moves. It’s characterized by the use of clappers called naruko, but it’s easy to fuse yosakoi moves with more modern music and dance moves, as the contestants of this particular festival tend to do.
Large groups of dancers (around 6,000 for 2019’s event) launch themselves through the streets, treating spectators to a fusion of traditional and modern culture and dance styles. Get there early to secure a spot, as lots of people are expected to show up to see the action. Stick around to check out the other activities and attractions, like the food and merchandise booths featuring local specialties of disaster-stricken areas in Japan.
2. Asakusa Tori-no-Ichi Fair (Nov 8 and 20)
Held during the days of the rooster (which, according to the Chinese zodiac, are said to be auspicious) in the Chinese calendar, >Tori-no-Ichi is a colorful and long-running fair that dates all the way back to the Edo era. It’s all about wishing for luck and prosperity in business endeavors. A few other shrines also celebrate these auspicious days, but the best-known Tori-no-Ichi is the one held at Otori Shrine, which is technically in Asakusa but is closer to Iriya Station.
At this fair, the main item being peddled is the kumade, a decorative bamboo rake that’s said to, well, rake in good luck. While elaborate ones can cost hundreds of thousands of yen (don’t worry, if you can’t buy the gorgeous ones, you can still take pictures of them), you can get simpler, smaller ones for ¥1,000–¥2,000. For every purchase, merchants will perform a clapping ritual for good fortune.
Also, be sure to sink your teeth into some of the tasty food on offer. We recommend the old-school sweets—and, as always, just about anything on a stick (except maybe those chocolate bananas with the eyes).
3. Design Festa Vol. 50 (Nov 16–17)
The autumn 2019 edition of the popular biannual art and design showcase Design Festa will see around 14,000 exhibitors and many more attendees over two days. You’ll find booths and activities dedicated to all kinds of art here: visual art, performance art, fashion, crafts, music, drama, dance, and more. You’ll also get to see some artists at work, as there will be live painting sessions. If you’ve got any interest in the contemporary arts and design scene, the festa is a must-do. It’s punted as the biggest event of its kind in Asia, so experience it while you’re here in Tokyo.
4. Tokyo Comic Con (Nov 22–24)
While Tokyo Comic Con is technically in Chiba, not Tokyo, it’s not too far away—just a bit farther than Tokyo Disney Resort. It may not be cheap, either, but it’s definitely worth making the visit if you’re into non-Japanese fandoms: think Marvel and DC superheroes, Harry Potter, and the like. This is Japan’s biggest event for non-Japanese (primarily Western) pop culture, although you’re also welcome to cosplay characters from Japanese fandoms here.
With an artist’s alley featuring popular, talented comic artists and animators from Japan and beyond, stage events, booths from big names in pop culture, cosplay gatherings, celebrity guests, and more, this is an event that’ll satisfy your inner geek.
Hangout with Snoopy and the gang at the newly reopened Snoppy Museum in Tokyo.
If you have cash to spend, go for the celebrity photo ops and signings—this year’s guests include Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley of Harry Potter fame) and Zachary Levi (who was, most recently, in Shazam!).
5. Fiesta de Espana (Nov 23–24)
Billed as Japan’s largest festival for all things Spanish, Fiesta de Espana is the place to go for your paella and sangria fix. Of course, other Spanish favorites will be on offer for you to enjoy, but the event isn’t just a food festival. There will also be cultural performances, so you can enjoy flamenco and other forms of dance, Spanish music, and more. Just like in previous years, there may even be workshops.
Bonus November events for 2019
Some other noteworthy events are:
- the last two days of the Rugby World Cup;
- the annual yabusame (horseback archery) demonstration at Meiji Jingu Shrine on Nov 3 (Culture Day, a public holiday);
- the long-running Tokyo Metropolitan Tourism Chrysanthemum Exhibition (Nov 1–17 at Hibiya Park; completely free);
- the Snow Bank Pay It Forward weekend (Nov 9–10) in Yoyogi Park, where you can (in theory) snowboard in the middle of Tokyo; and
- the Cheese Festa (Nov 10–11 at the event hall on the third floor of Ebis 303, near Ebisu Station)/
There are certain times in the year that can make your visit to Tokyo less than idea.