Halloween is a big deal in Japan, it’s not too hard to see why given the country’s love of dressing up, pop culture and all things ‘Kawaii’ and nowhere is this love more so than in Tokyo. I was lucky enough to spend Halloween in Tokyo last year and here are just a couple of my favourite things to check out when you visit the city during this spooky season:
The Shibuya Crosswalk
This is the place to be in Tokyo on Halloween. We headed here to experience the madness and if you think the Crosswalk is busy on a normal day it is nothing compared to how it is on Halloween. It takes 100’s of crossing guards to help people cross the road in time and the surrounding roads are full of young people in their Halloween costumes. It’s often described as a big street party but it’s not a party as we would imagine in the West. We didn’t see any drinking or miss-behaving and there’s no loud music, it’s more about being seen in your awesome outfit and hanging out, although there were some bars advertising to revellers on the surrounding streets. If you can get to the famous Starbucks with the best view, head upstairs and watch the madness from above. It’s a much more relaxing way to enjoy the evening but these window seats are incredibly hard to come by.
Take in the decorations
Most of central Tokyo takes on some kind of Halloween decorations, although they tend to go for the cute side of spooky than scary. Just wondering the streets and taking it all in is a great way to spend a day.
Grab some spooky eats
There’s a lot of things that come into mind when I think of Japanese food, but for me, crepes weren’t one of them. So imagine my surprise when I found that in Tokyo there were crepe places on every corner! I picked up this spooky eyed Halloween crape in the Akihabara district. Most desert shops and convenience stores will also have some kind of tasty, kooky, spooky offering.
The Harajuku district is the centre of pop culture in Tokyo and therefore it’s a great place to be around Halloween. It’s now mostly just a shopping district but expects to see some really cool Halloween fashions from the youth of Tokyo and the hip shops are sure to have some great decor.
The Disney Parks
If you want to find the best place for the Japnese Spook and Kawaii take on Halloween there’s no better way to see it then inside either of the two Disney Parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea. Here young adults often go dressed up as Disney Characters around this time of year usually with a group theme and seeing their inventive costumes is a real highlight. Of course, Disney Parks always look their best at Halloween and with Disney Sea already been renowned for its many unique food carts you know they’ll have loads of speciality seasonal food offerings. Then, of course, there will be the usual Disney Halloween entertainment and activities to check out.
Kawasaki Halloween Parade
This parade runs in the afternoon the Sunday before Halloween and all manner of Halloween costumes take over the streets. If you’ve got a costume to show off you can pay to join the parade for under £10 (there can only be 2000 entrants to get in quick) or join one of the 120k spectators watching from the streets. After the parade, there is a costume contest and an after-party for an additional cost (as with a lot of Japanese nights out this ends early, running from 6-8 pm).
Also the weekend before Halloween, in Ikebukuro expect to see everyone dressed in their favourite cosplay outfits. It’s more about anime characters then dressing spooky but you can see some really cool looks, and even better, it’s free! However, if you want to dress up or take photos you do have to pay for a licence.
Yokohama Yamate Seiyoukan Halloween Walk
Head down to Yokohama, pick up your stamp-card and hit up each spot listed where you will get a stamp and free candy at every stop. If you finish them all you even get a prize. There’s a limited amount of cards to get down their early and take advantage of the festival food and costume contest.
So that’s just a few ideas of what to get up to if you are spending the spooky season in the city of Tokyo. On the whole, in Tokyo, it’s more about street parties and organised events then trick or treating door-to-door, and you won’t see any of the wild partying as you do in the West. The emphasis is on costumes, candy and family fun!
Have you ever spent Halloween in a different country? Why not check out some of my other Halloween posts?