It’ll soon be October, which means that Tokyo Halloween 2017 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 2016. Halloween—sometimes along with Christmas—decorations and goodies can be found in some shops and department stores as early as September, and there are now 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 have become the sites for impromptu street parties in recent years.
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 festivities, check out where to get some costumes here, and take your pick from these Tokyo Halloween 2017 events:
1. Tokyo Disney Resort Halloween Celebrations (Sep 8-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.
While kids aged 11 and below are allowed to visit Disneyland and DisneySea in costume all year, Halloween is a special time when those aged 12 and up can also dress up. Unlike in previous years when guests could only dress up for around two weeks in all, this year’s Disney Halloween will allow guests to dress up for the entire period of Sept. 8-Oct. 31.
Of course, this being Tokyo Disney Resort, visitors can only dress up as Disney characters—including those from TV series (so yes, you can do High School Musical cosplay if you like!). Characters from Pixar movies and the Star Wars franchise are also allowed, as Disney owns the rights to those… but not Marvel characters, for some reason.
To keep things family-friendly, there are certain restrictions on costumes—nothing too skimpy, no body paint, no weapons (whether real or fake), no excessively long props, etc.
Tickets: We recommend buying your Disney tickets online so you can bypass the line and go straight in.
2. Kawasaki Halloween 2017 (Oct 1-31, main parade Oct 29)
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 29th, 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, also from 2:30-4:00 pm, there will be a Halloween pride parade, which will accept 200 participants (also for admission of 1,000 yen), an awarding ceremony from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm, and an after-party from 5:00 pm-10:00 pm (free for Halloween parade participants; 1,000 yen for advanced tickets or costumed participants; 1,500 yen at the door).
The day before, there will be some parades for kids at 12:00 pm, 1:30pm, and 3:00 pm. Other activities, most of which will take place on the weekend of Oct. 28-29, include movie screenings and a Halloween makeup booth.
3. Tamagawa Halloween Festival 2017 (Oct 11-31; main parade Oct 28)
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 with craft workshops, a costume contest, a stamp rally, and of course, parades. This year’s parade starts at 11:00 am, but registration is from 10:15-10:45 am.
4. Kagurazaka Bakeneko Festival (Oct 15)
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. Afterwards, there will still be some festivities, such as a dance, until 5:00 pm. In previous years, participation was free, but due to an increase in participants, the organizers have started charging a participation fee of 500 yen (children below junior high school age can still join for free), which goes to additional event 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, even something as simple as cat ears.
Registration is from 10:00 am to 1:50 pm.
5. Roppongi Halloween 2017 (Oct 22)
Where: Roppongi area (Roppongi Station)
Not to be confused with Roppongi Hills’ Halloween Parade (see below), this parade is organized by an association of Roppongi-based merchants. Since this year’s parade is called “Roppongi Halloween Jumbo!”, the route will be longer this year (around 2 km). It costs 2,000 yen to join the parade, and participation makes you eligible to join the trick-or-treating, which—unlike at most other Halloween events in Tokyo—is also open to adults. If you don’t want to join the parade but still want to go trick-or-treating, it costs 500 yen to do so. Once you receive your wristband, you can get candy from participating shops from 11:00 am-7:00 pm.
There will also be a jumbo bar with a special Halloween-themed menu, as well as a clean-up drive to encourage revelers to not go too wild during Halloween.
6. Kichijoji Halloween Festival 2017 (Oct 24-25)
Where: Around Kichijoji Station
Another kid-friendly event, this weekday parade is advertised as one that is by mothers and for mothers. 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 850-2,200 yen (depending on the activities you want to join) is required. The event takes place from 10:00 am-6:00 pm on both days, but the parades are just about an hour long.
7. Roppongi Hills Halloween Parade (Oct 28)
Where: Roppongi Hills (Roppongi Station)
Organized by the people behind Roppongi Hills, this is different from the other Roppongi Halloween event that we just mentioned. This one is a parade from 10:30 am-1:30 pm. Not much is known about this year’s event as of now. Concurrent promotions and activities for Roppongi Hills’ Halloween celebration include a stamp rally from Oct. 21-23, for which children under 12 years of age can receive free cookies if they collect enough stamps from participating shops, as well as 50% off admission (or free admission for junior high schoolers and younger) for those who visit Tokyo City View, Roppongi Hills’ observatory, in costume from October 13-31.
8. Futako-Tamagawa Halloween Party (Oct. 28-29)
Where: Futako-Tamagawa Rise Galleria (Futako-tamagawa Station)
With two parades—one on the 28th from 3:00-4:00 pm, and another on the 29th from 1:00-2:00 pm—and 400 participants per day (sadly, registration is already closed), this is another kid-friendly event. Aside from the parades, there will also be performances, booths, and a stamp rally.
9. Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Fest (Oct 28-29)
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 1,000 yen per day, you can cosplay and pose for pictures around certain areas in East Ikebukuro. There will also be stage events, mainly a cosplay runway. 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 lent for the event. Other highlights include gatherings for characters of similar series/themes, photo spots, and even “cosplay doctors” that can repair your costumes or props on the spot, should anything happen.
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.
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. Omotesando Halloween Pumpkin Parade (Oct 29)
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. Registration will start at 11:00 am, while the parade will be from 1:00 pm until around 2:30 pm. Only children aged 12 and below, as well as their guardians, can participate in the parade. As trick-or-treating is one of the activities at this parade, kids can get some treats afterwards, and some shops and restaurants around the area are known to give special discounts and services to costumed participants.
10. Yokohama Yamate Seiyoukan Halloween Walk 2017 (Oct 29)
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 29th, 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.
Halloween Street Parties!
On the streets of Shibuya
And if you want to see street parties (which, mind you, are extremely uncommon in Tokyo), head over to Shibuya and Roppongi, where things get 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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