Finally, October is here, providing relief from the mushiatsui (hot and humid) weather. Tokyoites can emerge from their air-conditioned sanctuaries, break out the wind-breakers, and leave their handheld fans at home. October in Tokyo brings with it even more festivals, perfect for breezy days and cool evenings, as well as family-friendly Halloween parades and cosplay events.
For those trying to line up some Halloween nightlife plans, there’s always the infamous Shibuya Halloween celebration, which last year caused so much mischief and mayhem that public drinking around Shibuya Station is banned this year. So, if you are planning on joining the masses of masked partiers in Shibuya, prepare for a more toned-down evening. Rather than taking to the streets of Shibuya this Halloween, you might consider a different option. It seems every nightclub in Tokyo (Womb, Whistlebump, and Vision, to name a few) is capitalizing on the weekend before Halloween, so you’ll have ample choices.
Of course, there's plenty of family-friendly fun around the city, too.
From fireworks to festivals, Halloween parades to spooky urban tag, here are the Tokyo events in October that can’t be missed!
While hanabi taikai (fireworks festivals) are staples of summers in Japan, if you snoozed on the festivities of August and September, you don’t have to wait for 2020 to see spectacular pyrotechnics! The annual Setagaya Tamagawa Fireworks Festival is held alongside the Tamagawa River, and the cool autumn weather makes it a much pleasanter event compared to its summer precursors. Leading up to the 6:00 pm fireworks display, stage performances start at 3:00 pm and include Komazawa University marching band and a cappella, a comedic act, and Taiko drummers.
Date: October 5th, 2019 (weather dependent)
Time: 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Location: Fukakotamagawa Park
This Tokyo event in October spices up a game of urban tag with the addition of zombies! Participants must avoid the zombies (chasers) while running to 5 different Tokyo checkpoints and completing challenges at each. If caught, they join the ranks of the zombies. If you’re not a gym buff, walking or riding the train is also fine. After all, in a true zombie apocalypse, you want to use every advantage you have! Keep in mind, registration closes on October 5th at 3:00 pm.
Date: October 5th, 2019
Time: From 6:00 pm (lasts 2-4 hours)
Location: Setagaya Park
This is one Tokyo event in October that beer enthusiasts can’t miss! Japan’s largest craft beer event brings together over 200 craft beers from all across Japan, with creative styles like electric green lychee beer and pink honey lemon beer. Round one takes place on October 5-8, and then the second round on October 10-13 will mix it up with new food and drinks to try! Admission is free and small beers start at around ¥500. Whether you like your beer hoppy, malty, or fruity, come by and grab a glass!
Date: October 5-8 and 10-13, 2019
Weekdays 3:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Saturdays, Sundays, Holidays 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Price: Free admission
Location: Shinagawa Intercity
Interested in more traditional Tokyo events in October? The Ikegami Honmonji Oeshiki Festival has over 730 years of history and celebrates Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist priest who founded Nichiren Buddhism. While the festivities take place over 3 days, the best time to visit is 6:00 pm on October 12th for the “Mando rite,” which includes a parade of floats and participants carrying glowing lanterns to the thrum of drums. Of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without Japanese street food, and you can get your fill of yakisoba noodles, molten balls of takoyaki, and smokey yakitori skewers.
Date: October 11-13, 2019
Time: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Location: Ikegami Honmonji Temple
The Yanaka Matsuri is a local festival that takes place at venues across Yanaka, with dance and musical performances by schoolchildren and local groups, an abundance of tasty street food stalls, and a market where both local and regional products and crafts are sold. In contrast with some of the other Tokyo events in October, Yanaka Matsuri is more of a low-key event that brings together the community, celebrating with wholesome, family-friendly entertainment and food! While the main venue is the Disaster Prevention Plaza, the festivities also take place at Yanaka Elementary School, Okakura Tenshin Memorial Park, and Yanaka Cemetery Park.
Date: October 12-13, 2019
Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Price: Disaster Prevention Plaza “Hatsune no Mori” (main venue)
Location: Ikegami Honmonji Temple
Like it or not, the cat costume is a Halloween staple. But this last-minute Halloween look gets a makeover during the Bakeneko (Supernatural Cat) Festival, which started in 2010 in homage to Soseki Natsume, author of the novel I Am a Cat, who lived in the Kagurazaka area. The event has free admission, though to participate in the Bakeneko Parade there is a fee of ¥500 for adults, with registration ending at 1:30 pm. Children (junior high students and younger) must have a parent or guardian present. In the morning, there will be cat makeup artists on staff and street performances to rile up the crowd, then the parade runs from 2:00-3:00 pm, followed by dance performances.
Date: October 13, 2019
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Price: Free for children, ¥500 for adults
Location: Kagurazaka (parade takes place along Waseda-Dori)
Declared a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2016, the Kawagoe Festival is a tradition that goes back over 370 years. It’s an impressive display, as colorful festival floats sheltering handmade Japanese dolls are carried down Kurazukuri Street. Lined with traditional warehouse-style buildings that recall the Edo Period, the history of the area is palpable, and the luminous lanterns add a sepia hue that recalls a bygone era. But what everyone’s here to see is the hikkawase, a competition between hayashi performers on opposing floats, which can get quite rowdy as the night deepens.
Date: October 19-20, 2019
Time: 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Location: Kawagoe Station
Japan’s most popular Halloween parade with over 100,000 spectators every year, don’t miss out on this Tokyo event in October. The parade will begin around Kawasaki Station East Exit, and include appearances by Tokyo Gegegay, Japanese DJ Yamato, and Pa’s Lam System. The first 2,000 people who sign up can take part in the parade, with a participation fee of ¥1000. All parade participants will be considered in the Halloween costume contest, with a grand prize of ¥500,000!
Date: October 27, 2019
Time: 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Location: Kawasaki Station
What’s better than ramen? How about 36 types of ramen! From the end of October to early November, the Tokyo Ramen Show features ramen shops from all over Japan. Knock back a bowl of regional ramen from Fukuoka, Sapporo, Miyagi, and more! The Tokyo Ramen Show also features never-before-seen collaborations like a new veggie-packed vegetarian shoyu ramen and Yamagata wonton ramen.
The largest ramen event in Japan features 2 rounds (October 24-29 and October 30-November 4), each with 18 ramen shops available. So, after you’ve eaten to your heart’s content during round one, come back for seconds and explore all the new options!
Date: October 24 - November 4, 2019
Time: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Price: Free admission (¥880 yen per ramen ticket)
Location: Komazawa Olympic Park
Join over 20,000 cosplayers at the Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Festival (or “Ikehalo”) this October in Tokyo. Come just to marvel at the costumes, or commit to cosplaying and snag a ticket, either the general cosplay ticket (¥2000 in advance or ¥2300 same-day) which comes with dressing rooms and storage lockers, or the ¥3500 premium pass for early admission, upgraded dressing rooms, and concierge support. Photographers may also join in on the action (¥2000 for an advance ticket or ¥2300 at the door).
Several events will be held over the weekend, like the Ikehalo Cosplay Parade, Ikehalo DJ Party, and Ikehalo Tea Party with games and all-you-can-eat/all-you-can-drink courses at select shops. So, lace up your boots, fasten your wig, and join your fellow otakus!
Date: October 26-27, 2019
Time: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (stage performances from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm)
Price: Free admission
Location: Higashi-Ikebukuro Central Park