It’s October, which means that Tokyo Halloween 2016 is upon us! This celebration has become a massive hit in Tokyo in recent years – check out the slideshow video above of scenes from the streets of Halloween Shibuya 2015. There’s now Halloween—sometimes along with Christmas—decorations and goodies being all over shops and department stores as early as September, as well as several Halloween celebrations around the city even before October 31st.
It’s a big change from just a few years back, when Halloween was a mostly quiet affair—unless you went to a bar or club, and even then it was mostly the ones frequented by foreigners that had Halloween-themed parties. Now, it’s safe to say that in Tokyo, Halloween is even livelier and more festive than Christmas! With almost every weekend in October having at least one Halloween event, there’s something for everyone who loves to play dress-up out there – some events are more adult-oriented, while others are family-friendly.
While there are a few trick-or-treat events for kids, trick-or-treating is not (yet?) much of a thing in Japan, and such events are usually held in shopping centers, and not from home to home. Halloween largely seems to be a celebration for teens and young adults, who see it as a time to play dress-up and maybe engage in some debauchery in a bar or club—or on the streets, just like how Shibuya and Roppongi became the sites for impromptu street parties last year.
It also seems to be more about dressing up and less about experiencing spooks and thrills. Sure, you’ll see people dressed up as zombies and other scary creatures, but save for Universal Studios Japan‘s Halloween Horror Nights, you won’t see many haunted houses or scream park attractions. For the Japanese, Obon in August is typically the time for sharing ghost stories and getting the fright of your life, after all.
If you want to join the Halloween festivities, check out where to get some costumes here, and take your pick from these events:
1. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea Halloween Celebrations (Sep 9-Oct 31)
Where: Tokyo Disney Resort (Maihama Station)
Count on Tokyo Disney Resort to celebrate Halloween! Expect parades, themed food and merchandise, and special decorations at both parks. DisneySea’s Halloween festivities are more interesting, though, as selected Disney villains will make their appearance at character greetings throughout the park, as well as a show where they welcome you to the world of villains. Throughout this period, kids aged 11 and below can visit either park in costume (Disney characters only, of course!). Those aged 12 and up can also dress up as Disney characters, but only from September 9-15 and October 25-31. To keep things family-friendly, here are certain restrictions on costumes, though—nothing too skimpy, no body paint, no weapons (whether real or fake), no excessively long props, among others—so be sure to read the guidelines first.
2. Kawasaki Halloween 2016 (Oct 1-31, main parade Oct 30)
Where: Around Kawasaki Station
Before Halloween became huge in Tokyo, the Kawasaki Halloween Parade was the event that came to mind when people mentioned Halloween. Now it’s got a lot of competition, but this event still never fails to draw huge crowds year after year. In fact, the event just got bigger, as it no longer just consists of a parade, but a series of activities in the days leading up to Halloween.
The main parade will be from 2:30-4:00 pm on Oct 30th, and it costs 1,000 yen to join. Better hurry and make up your mind, though, as they’re accepting a maximum of 2,500 participants. On that same day, from 2:30-4:00 pm, there will be a Star Wars parade.
The day before (Oct 29th), there will be a few parades for kids at 12:00 pm, 1:30pm, and 3:00 pm. Other activities include a photo contest (prizes include a trip to Italy and 100,00 yen!), parties, a live performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, horror movie screenings, and a club party.
3. Kagurazaka Bakeneko Festival (Oct 16)
Where: Around Kagurazaka (Iidabashi or Kagurazaka Station)
Bakeneko literally translates to “changed cat”, so we’re talking about cats that are no longer ordinary cats. With supernatural powers and unnatural features (e.g. tails that can split into two), they either transformed into ghosts, demons or monsters—or were not ordinary cats to begin with.
Blending Japanese folklore with Halloween, this parade takes place from 2:00-3:00 pm around the lively Kagurazaka area. In previous years, participation was free, but this year, you’ll need to pay 500 yen to join (children below junior high school age can still join for free). As the parade has gotten more attention, the event fee goes to paying for additional security and also serves as insurance in case of any accidents. To join, all you need to do is to dress up as a cat or simply have a costume with cat motifs. Registration starts at 10 am.
4. Tamagawa Halloween Festival 2016 (Oct 22-23)
Where: Tamagawa Takashimaya SC, in front of the 1st floor of the main entrance (Futako-Tamagawa Station)
A kid-oriented Halloween event, the Tamagawa Halloween Festival focuses on child-parent fun this year with craft workshops, a costume contest, a stamp rally, and of course, parades. The contest has three categories – pets (to be held on the 22nd, from 12:00-12:30 pm), parent-child (two rounds: 1:00 pm-1:30 pm on the 22nd, and 3:30 pm-3:00 pm on the 23rd), and kids (2:30 pm-4:00 pm on the 23rd). Parades will be held on the 22nd from 3:00-4:00 pm, and the 23rd from 1:00-2:00 pm. Registration for the contest and parades is required, but as of current writing, all slots are taken, so just enjoy watching this event!
5. Omotesando Halloween Pumpkin Parade (Oct 30)
Where: Omotesando area (Harajuku, Meiji-jingumae, or Omotesando Station)
With usually over 1,000 participants each year, this is also a Halloween celebration for the kiddies, as compared to many other events listed here. The event starts at 11:00 am and goes until 5:00 pm, and only children aged 12 and below, as well as their guardians, can participate in the parade. Advanced registration is required, and kids get some treats afterwards, as this event also has trick-or-treating as one of its activities. Popular celebrity and fashion icon Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, who used to frequent Harajuku, was a guest in previous years. This doesn’t seem to be the case this year, but kids can still enjoy other activities such as stage programs and a lottery.
6. Roppongi Halloween 2016 (TBD)
Where: Roppongi area (Roppongi Station)
Not to be confused with Roppongi Hills’ Halloween parade (see below), this parade’s route is 1.7 km long, starting at the Roppongi Junior High School and ending at the Graduate Research Institute for Policy Studies. Last year featured two parades – a main parade and a Yokai Watch-themed one – and trick-or-treating. As of writing, there are no details for 2016 yet, so stay tuned for updates!
Link: http://www.6hallo.com/ (Note the website has not been updated with 2016 info just yet. Check back for details)
7. Yokohama Yamate Seiyoukan Halloween Walk 2016 (Oct 30)
Where: Yamate Seiyoukan (Motomachi-Chukagai or Ishikawacho Station)
The Yamate area of Yokohama is known for its Western-style houses, remnants of the time when the area was an enclave for Westerners. On the 30th, from 10:00 am-4:00 pm, there will be a stamp rally for costumed participants. Collect stamps from various locations in the Yamate area—including some houses and a park—and get prizes for being one of the fastest to complete them. The organizers will give out a maximum of 6,000 stamp cards, so be there early. Additionally, there will be a costume contest, food and merchandise, and a face-painting booth.
8. Kichijoji Halloween Festival 2016 (Oct 25-26)
Where: Around Kichijoji Station
Another kid-friendly event, this parade is advertised as one that is by mothers and for mothers, so the organizers are looking for mother-and-child participants, with the kids supposed to be aged 6 and below. There will be trick-or-treating, parades (including a parade for babies in strollers!), and a costume contest, but advanced registration of 1,000-3,000 yen (depending on the activities you want to join) is required (and all slots are full). The event takes place from 10:00 am-6:00 pm on both days, but the parades are just about an hour long. As for the exact time of the parades, though, details are still TBA as of writing.
9. Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Fest (Oct 29-30)
Where: Around East Ikebukuro (Ikebukuro Station)
Cosplayers outside Japan joke that Halloween is, ironically, a time to rest from cosplay and costuming, especially since many of them see cosplay as different from dressing up for Halloween (mainly because as far as they’re concerned, cosplay usually refers to dressing up and acting as a specific character, and not, say, being a random monster).
But in Ikebukuro, it’s a good time to be in cosplay for Halloween! From 10:00 am-6:00 pm on both days, and for a fee of 500 yen per day, you can cosplay and pose for pictures around certain areas in East Ikebukuro. There will be stage events, mainly a cosplay runway, from 11:00 pm-5:00 pm. This year’s event is also more non-cosplayer/beginner-friendly than in previous years, as there will be an area for photo ops with cosplay props (it’s normally rude to just touch a cosplayer’s props without permission) that have been graciously lended for the event. There will also be a face-painting booth.
As is standard for most cosplay events, organizers are very particular about not arriving to the area or leaving it in cosplay, so you’ll have to change in the provided dressing room. You have to register first, after which you’ll usually get a badge, stamp, wristband, or whatnot to signify that you changed in the dressing room and can therefore participate in the event. You may also only be allowed to roam about in designated areas; some restaurants and shops may not want cosplayers to enter in costume, so organizers will usually list which establishments allow cosplayers to enter. For this year’s event, PARCO department store has confirmed that cosplayers are welcome to shop in costume.
Cosplay may be a visible subculture, but the community is always extra-cautious because they don’t want to get a bad rep (especially from conservative folks who will be quick to point fingers at them if something goes wrong), so please make sure to observe the rules. When in doubt, ask!
10. MAG Festa 2016 (Oct 22-23)
Where: Around Nakano Station
Like Akihabara and East Ikebukuro, Nakano has a reputation for being an otaku haven, and what better way for pop culture enthusiasts to spend Halloween than to attend the MAG (Manga, Anime, and Games) Festa? Held around Nakano Station (specifically, around the main shopping arcade, Nakano Broadway, and Nakano Sun Plaza), MAG Festa will feature, among others, a parade. Take note that if you want to cosplay, you’ll have to pay a fee of 1,500 yen (which includes storage). If you’re a member of Cosplayers’ Archive or Cure WorldCosplay, the social networking sites for cosplayers and cosplay photographers, you can get 100 yen off admission.
11. Yokosuka Subcultural Festival (Oct 22)
Where: Mikasa Park (Yokosuka-Chuo Station)
Held from 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Yokosuka Subcultural Festival (known as Yokocul) for short is yet another event that will appeal to cosplayers and cosplay photographers. This is a rare chance to get some good cosplay pictures in Mikasa Park – which houses the battleship Mikasa and is just behind the US Naval Base – and to shoot at nearby Sarushima Island, which normally doesn’t allow cosplay pictorials. It’s no surprise that cosplayers of characters from Kantai Collection, the anime and game featuring warships as cute girls, will converge at this event. Whether you’re joining as a cosplayer, photographer, or spectator, admission to the event is 1,500 yen (1,000 yen for those under 16).
12. Roppongi Hills Halloween Parade (Oct 29)
Where: Roppongi Hills (Roppongi Station)
This is different from the other Roppongi Halloween event that we mentioned. Aside from the dates and activities being different, the events have different organizers. This one is a parade from 10:30-1:30 am, and the theme is movie characters. Kids who join the parade will get some sweet treats.
Halloween Street Parties!
And if you want to see street parties (which, mind you, are extremely uncommon in Tokyo), head over to Shibuya and Roppongi. We covered last year’s Halloween celebrations at Shibuya, and it was crazy! In previous years, these parties supposedly started when bars and clubs were packed with costumed revelers, which led to the party-goers spilling out into the streets.
Now, the street parties are still impromptu—there really is no organizer—but people seem to purposely head there to be out and about with their costumes nowadays, and they’re not a result of bars and clubs being too crowded (although they definitely will be, anyway). Shibuya was especially packed last year, so if that’s any indication, there won’t be any shortage of costumes to see this year.
It’s a lot of fun for the revelers, but a source of consternation for those who have to clean up their messes, the next day, so try not to have too much fun that you forget your manners! The police have tried to crack down on these street parties, but their efforts were in vain, so at least be considerate and don’t be unruly.
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