As summer draws to a close, so does the seasonal festival frenzy. That doesn’t mean there aren’t traditional Japanese festivals to check out in September—there are a number of them to catch. But for our roundup of must-attend Tokyo events in the coming weeks, most events in our roundup have a decidedly modern and international feel—one such event being the Rugby World Cup!
1. Tokyo Jazz Festival (August 30-September 1)
Featuring big and upcoming musicians—local and international alike—in the jazz scene, the Tokyo Jazz Festival is a must if you’re even remotely interested in this type of music. Aiming for the festival (now in its 18th iteration) to become a city-wide event, and hoping to make the music more accessible to people of all ages and walks of life, the organizers moved it to Shibuya in 2017, and it looks like it won’t be changing venues anytime soon.
While some shows require admission fees, cheapos can enjoy free street performances along Keyaki Street, among other locations around Shibuya.
2. Afro-American-Caribbean Festa (September 7-8)
Diverse, rich cultures come together at this celebration of Afro-American Caribbean culture and heritage. The event will have not only food and booze, but also cultural performances (salsa, samba, and African drums, among others), a market (in which visitors can find traditional clothing and accessories), a hairstyling corner and on-stage demonstration, and a fashion show.
3. Tokyo Game Show (September 12-15 |public days September 14-15)
Japan’s largest gaming event (and one of the major entries on the global gaming calendar) continues to grow in scale (and number of visitors) each year, so be sure to arrive early to make the most of the day. Participating in the Tokyo Game Show are not only the who’s who of the gaming industry, but also rising talent such as indie developers from all over the world. Be prepared for long, long lines as exhibitors offer test-plays of upcoming games, release event-exclusive merchandise, and more.
The stage events (most, if not all, of which will be in Japanese) are also worth paying attention to, as some may involve announcements such as new games, much-awaited sequels, release dates, and more. Lastly, further livening up the event are the cosplayers. (If you want to cosplay, you’re more than welcome to do so for an additional fee of ¥1,000).
4. Rugby World Cup (September 20-November 2)
Where: (Free zones) Chofu Station Square and Chofu Green Hall (access: Chofu Station) | Tokyo Sports Square (Yurakucho Station)
Here’s something for sports fanatics to get excited about before the Tokyo Olympics—the Rugby World Cup (RWC)! Japan’s hosting of this much-awaited sporting event is a significant one, as it marks the first time for the RWC to be held in Asia.
By now, tickets are almost sold out, and they’re sure to be pricey on the resale market. But if you’re a cheapo, not to worry—it may not be the same as watching right where the action’s at, but you can still feel the adrenaline rush with fellow fans at designated fan zones in Chofu and the Yurakucho area. Entry to these zones is totally free. While details are sparse right now, sporting fans are guaranteed to have a blast watching the matches live, mingling with fellow fans (perhaps over some drinks and grub), checking out various rugby-themed attractions, and—if they need a break from all things rugby—enjoying some cultural attractions and activities.
The first match kicks off at the Ajinomoto Stadium (a.k.a. the Tokyo Stadium) in Chofu, Tokyo. If you can’t watch the match there, you know where to head! And if you’d rather watch with a smaller—but just as lively—crowd, you might want to head to some of Tokyo’s sports bars.
5. Ikebukuro Fukuro Matsuri – first half (September 28-29)
Where: Around West Ikebukuro (access: Ikebukuro Station)
Time: All day
Ikebukuro’s pride and joy, the Fukuro Matsuri, is a two-part event. The first half of the event is marked by a procession of mikoshi (portable shrines), as well as some traditional and modern performances on the side. If you think the procession is lively, wait until you see the second part of this festival in October, which features a lot of dancing!