It’s October. If you live in Tokyo, you know what that means—shops like Don Quijote will start playing “This is Halloween” on loop as Halloween has grown to be a big deal and a cause for rowdy celebration in recent years. Of course, Halloween parties and parades make up part of our list of events not to miss, but October also has some events in store for film buffs and those who want a glimpse of traditional Japanese culture.
1. Ikebukuro Fukuro Matsuri/Tokyo Yosakoi Contest (Oct 6-7)
While we didn’t feature the first half of Ikebukuro’s Fukuro Matsuri in our September events guide, as it was overshadowed by other events, the second half of this festival is not to be missed for its liveliness. Also known as the Tokyo Yosakoi Contest, this festival is devoted to yosakoi, an energetic traditional dance characterized by the use of clappers called “naruko”. Although the dance has traditional origins, it’s common nowadays to fuse the basic elements of yosakoi with modern music and/or dance moves.
Since this event is a contest, you’ll see many different teams do their best to perform their own takes on yosakoi. If you’d like to try dancing along, drop by or stay on until the closing ceremony on the last day, after the awarding (which usually ends past 7:00 pm). Putting aside any rivalries, the teams will enthusiastically dance to the closing song, and bystanders are welcome to join in, too.
2. Various Halloween events (throughout October)
Where: Various locations
Halloween is October’s biggest event in Tokyo. Halloween celebrations have really taken off in recent years, with the number of events, as well as the scale, steadily increasing each year. There are events all over Tokyo: Kagurazaka, Roppongi, Omotesando, Ikebukuro, Kawasaki and, of course, Shibuya (where the largest Halloween street party is held). And you don’t have to worry about not being in Japan on the big day itself (Wednesday in 2018), as there will be several events leading up to the 31st.
The events come in different levels of family-friendliness, ranging from “perfect for small children” to “maybe it’s not such a good idea to bring kids here”. Check out our handy guide to Halloween in Tokyo to get you started!
3. Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony (Oct 13-14 | Oct 20-21)
If you want to experience a Japanese tea ceremony for yourself and learn about its intricacies, this is the event for you. At each venue, there will be various tea ceremonies held by different tea ceremony schools (hence the different admission fees). Some will have Japanese-to-English interpreters, so don’t worry about not knowing any Japanese.
Aside from tea ceremonies, there will be some workshops and performances to introduce visitors to traditional Japanese culture—kabuki, koto (a stringed instrument), calligraphy and more.
- Oct. 13-14 – Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum (access: Musashi-Koganei or Hana-Kogaenei Station, then a bus ride to Koganei-koen Nishi-guchi)
- Oct. 20-21 at Hamarikyu Gardens (access: Shiodome Station)
- Oct. 13-14 – 9:50 am-4:10 pm (reception from 9:30 am-3:30 pm)
- Oct. 21-22 – 9:30 am-4:10 pm (reception from 9:30 am-3:40 pm)
Admission: ¥300 for some ceremonies | ¥700 for others | Free for traditional Japanese performances
4. Kawagoe Festival (Oct 20-21)
Affectionately nicknamed “Little Edo” because some of its streets still resemble those of the Edo period, Kawagoe is technically in Saitama Prefecture, but it’s just 30 minutes away from Tokyo’s Ikebukuro Station. Its major festival, which is over 300 years old, has been designated as an National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property, which should tell you that it’s of historical and cultural value.
The festival features large, towering, elaborate floats that are paraded around Kurazukuri Street. Stick around into the evening as that’s when things become even rowdier and livelier—with traditional music performances, dancing, and paper lanterns. And of course, for a truly colorful sight, the floats will be lit up.
While Kawagoe is the closest station to the festival, it might also be the most crowded, as this festival is quite the crowd-drawer. You might want to consider using Honkawagoe or Kawagoeshi stations. Arrive as early as possible; if you arrive at night just for the lit-up floats, you might not be able to enjoy the festival that much due to the huge crowd.
5. Tokyo Ramen Show (Oct 25-Nov 4)
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Tokyo Ramen Show is where you’ll want to be at if you love ramen. You’ll find well-loved ramen from all over Japan—all for 850 yen a bowl. You’ll get to eat ramen for a good cause, too, as proceeds from the event will go to disaster relief efforts.
There will also be some event-exclusive ramen dishes, as well as a contest for Japan’s best ramen. And since this year’s Tokyo Ramen Show is its 10th, perhaps there might be some special activities and offerings.
Interested in architecture? There are a handful of exhibitions relating to art and architecture taking place across Tokyo this fall.
In our pilot episode, we're joined by Alvin Cheung of ABC Coffee, Hapnick, and Tokyo Keyboards