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, we’re featuring five with more of a modern feel.
Three out of the five events featured here take place on the same weekend—the 22nd to the 23rd. No surprise there, as Monday the 24th is a holiday, and just enough time will have passed after summer festival season, giving those with festival fatigue a time to recover.
1. Tokyo Jazz Festival (August 31-September 2)
Featuring big and upcoming musicians 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 17th 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 and around Exit 13 of Shibuya Station. There will also be some related events, such as a jazz parade on Shibuya’s bustling Center-Gai on September 1st.
2. Afro-American-Caribbean Culture Festa (September 8-9)
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 20-23 |public days September 22-23)
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. Tourism Japan Expo 2018 (September 20-23 | Public days September 22-23)
Have you been bitten by the travel bug? Then Tourism Japan Expo 2018 is the event for you! Despite its name, the event is not just about tourism, as some booths are geared towards different kinds of travel—exchange programs, international volunteering, and more. “But I’m a tourist visiting Tokyo, why would this interest me?” you ask. This event will give you an idea of what each of Japan’s prefectures have to offer. You can sample local delicacies, buy or get freebies of regional specialties, and see some special performances.
Where: Tokyo Big Sight Halls 1-6 (Access: Kokusai-tenjijo or Kokusai-tenjijo-seimon Station)
Time: 10:00 am-6:00 pm (until 5:00 pm on Sept. 24)
Admission: (Per day) Advanced purchase – ¥1,100 (adults) | ¥600 (students) | At the gate – ¥1,300 (adults) | ¥700 (students)
5. Taste of Tokyo 2018 / Tokyo Ajiwai Festa (Sept. 21-23)
If you find yourself in the Odaiba area to, perhaps, visit the Tourism Japan Expo, you might as well drop by Symbol Promenade Park for this event, since you’ll pass by it on the way to Tokyo Big Sight anyway. It’s a foodie’s dream come true!
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Despite the name, the event doesn’t just limit itself to Tokyo’s best; instead, it’ll feature food from all over and beyond Japan. That’s right, you’ll get to taste foreign cuisines as well—not only the popular ones such as American and Chinese, but also less frequently represented ones such as South African and Peruvian. There will also be cooking seminars and stage entertainment.
Tokyo and Japan have a reputation for the strange and unusual museums.