Parades and festivals
The costumed madness that is Halloween in Shibuya over the past few years finally forced the local authorities to take action in 2016. Parts of Dogenzaka and Bunkamura-dori near the scramble crossing were closed to cars and other heavy vehicles, letting revellers party and snap selfies without having to worry too much about being caught up in traffic. The deal is set to repeat this year, with a bit of central Shibuya (details TBC) reserved for pedestrians in the evenings (6pm-10pm) between October 27 and 31. Wear your best, sharpen your elbows and get ready for one mighty crush.
Pull on your costume, bring the kids and stroll around Yokohama for this one-day event happening at a total of 13 locations across the city. Pick up a stamp card at any of the designated spots and start your adventure – free candy will be handed out at every stop, and anyone collecting 12 stamps or more will receive a prize at the end. You can also take part in the costume contest, fill up on festival food and have your face painted for a small fee. Make sure to arrive early – only 6,000 stamp cards will be made available.
La Cittadella's Kawasaki Halloween is back for its 22nd edition and once again features one of the top costume parades in the capital region: on October 28, dressed-up revellers will be making the walk around the area while jamming to dance tunes courtesy of DJ Club Hollywood and company. Registration for the parade costs ¥1,000, but just watching the spectacle is of course free. In addition to the main event, Cittadella's stores are running special Halloween discounts and campaigns through the month of October.
Futako-Tamagawa shopping centre Rise is celebrating Halloween over the entire weekend, with all sorts of family-friendly events taking place around the complex. There are parades, workshops, a stamp rally and costume contests which are open to everyone from babies to even pets. Shops inside and around the facility will be taking part in trick or treat festivities, giving away candy to the young ones in costume. If you're looking to celebrate Halloween with the kids, far away from the raucous action of Shibuya and Roppongi, this one should fit the bill.
The Hello Halloween Pumpkin Parade, an annual event in which around 3,000 children under twelve dress up to form a parade that spans the 700m long zelkova-tree-lined section of Omotesando, takes place for the 36th time this year. In addition to the parade itself, there will be a special Okashi Rally Map to highlight the participating shops in the Omotesando/Harajuku area that will be giving away okashi (sweets) to children. Finally, many cafés and restaurants will be presenting special Halloween-themed menus throughout the month of October (full list TBC).
A gathering of goths, cyberpunk enthusiasts, lolitas, gyaru and folks representing some of Tokyo's even more obscure subcultures, the Tokyo Decadance party has been going on since 2005 and is now gearing up for yet another edition of its famous Halloween specials. Head over to XEX Nihonbashi on October 20 for techno, noise and industrial tunes courtesy of 'cyber-fashion' DJ SiSen and 83-year-old spinner Sumirock, plus performances ranging from rope bondage to latex shows. The costume discount has three tiers: ¥500 (suit, dress or basic costume), ¥1,000 ('advanced' costume) and ¥1,500 (all-out).
This is possibly Japan’s biggest rock festival-like Halloween Party, and it's hosted by Hyde, the lead vocalist of L'Arc-en-Ciel. It takes place from October 26 to 28 at Makuhari Messe. The three-day music extravaganza features the Halloween Junky Orchestra (a special collaboration created for this occasion, which is made up of Shinya from Dir en grey, Tatsuro from Mucc, Hitsugi from Nightmare, Rolly and more) as well as artists/bands like Breakerz, My First Story and Momoiro Clover Z. Special guest Yoshiki, leader of Japan’s most successful rock band X Japan, will take over the stage on Sunday, October 28. We can't think of any better way to celebrate the spooky season.
In terms of scale, AgeHa's Halloween parties are usually the largest in town, and this year is no exception. The action kicks off on Friday October 26 with the Space Halloween celebration featuring psychedelic sound duo Mad Tribe, a roster of DJs including Funky Gong, Hatta and Disc Junkey, and spectacular art installations by Kanoya Project. Saturday’s show theme is Oedo Halloween (Edo was Tokyo's former name) and sees a handful of disco-focused DJs, such as ever-present DJ Kaori, Ksuke, TJO and electro spinner Mitomi Tokoto, plus the skimpily dressed CyberJapan Dancers. Those in full costume pay only ¥2,000 at the door on Friday and ¥3,000 on Saturday (¥2,000 if your costume features some sort of Japanese style – think samurai, ninja, geisha or anime characters).
The best place to celebrate Halloween with kids in tow is at Sanrio Puroland. Here you can enjoy the theme park's kitschy Halloween ambience at noon and its spooky events in the evening. After taking adorable souvenir photos with Hello Kitty and My Melody in their cute Halloween-style costumes during the day, the whole park turns into a scary spectacle with plenty of 'horror areas' in the evening. If you can't get enough of Japan's beloved cat-girl and friends, then stay the whole night from October 27 to 28 (10pm-5am) and celebrate with DJ Hello Kitty, Sky-Hi, Tempalay and more (participants must be aged 20 or older; tickets from ¥4,500).
Once again Shinagawa’s Aqua Park changes its appearance according to the season – and autumn comes along with a colourful Halloween design produced by Naked, the company famous for its many events featuring spectacular projection mapping and art installations. The setting for the aquarium's dolphin show during the evening, named Aqua Pop Party, is emphasised with colourful flowers and pumpkins thanks to projection mapping, while the jelly fish area boasts flashy lights reminding one of disco. Make sure to stop by the Halloween Records Bar and grab some coloured drinks before making your way through the multicoloured underwater world.
A horror event isn’t the first thing you’d expect to see at a relaxation spa, but this is one scare fest you can experience lying down. Raku Spa Tsurumi is challenging participants to be restrained and strapped onto a bed as test subjects for a ‘clinical trial’ of fear. The producers of this haunted house experience haven’t revealed much about what exactly you’ll witness – just that the faint-hearted are advised to wear diapers. Don’t worry if the experience gets too scary to handle; there’s an ‘emergency’ call button for a nurse to release you.
If you're looking for family-friendly Halloween fun, head straight to Yomiuri Land. The expansive park will be all fancied up for the occasion: friendly monsters will be on hand to greet visitors, kids can take part in all kinds of pumpkin-themed games, and the restaurants will be serving spooky specials until the end of October. If you're brave enough, enter the hounted house 'Hyuuuuuudoro', or meet the many zombies walking along the zombie street every weekend and on October 31 from 5pm. On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from September 29 and on Wednesday October 31, anyone visiting the park in costume gets in for free. To top things off, the park's annual 'Jewellumination' light-up will be turned on every evening at sunset from October 10.
Yokohama's Hakkeijima Sea Paradise turns into a spooky spectacle until the end of October. Look forward to an ultra cute parade of the aquarium's African penguins or a painting show by the Beluga whales, while munching on some Halloween-themed snacks. If you decide to stay until the evening on September 22, 23 or October 6, 7, 28, you can enjoy a spectacular firework display synchronised to music from 8.30pm.
The Vampire Cafe in Ginza has created a special Halloween-themed menu for the season. The ‘Halloween Course for Dracula’s Castle’ includes the Pumpkin Monster, which is a French chicken with carrot salad dish presented in the form of a jack-o’-lantern, as well as the Green Witch’s Risotto of salmon and mushroom. For dessert, enjoy a selection of six playful creations such as the ‘Ghosts Wandering a Feast’, a soft cheese tart with grape compote. Don’t have anything ‘horrifying’ to wear? Don’t worry; the restaurant will lend you a costume so that you can be fully invested in the Halloween spirit.
Champagne brand Veuve Clicquot collaborates with French restaurant L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Roppongi Hills for its annual Halloween event. From October 1 you can dine in a spooky yet stylish atmosphere, and it will culminate with an actual Halloween party on October 26. The ¥15,000 participation fee seems kind of pricey, but considering the location and the fancy food menu with drinks included, it's not a bad deal.
It's barely mid-September but all things Halloween have started popping up around the city, including a special festive menu at Nihonbashi's immensely popular Pokémon Café. If you're a big Pokémon (or Pokemon Go) fan and are in Tokyo between now and October 31, you might want to make a reservation at this kawaii eatery. Scary? Or just cute. The new menu consists of three spooky new creations: a Gastly menchi katsu (minced meat patty) burger (¥1,706), a not-so-scary Pikachu plate (¥1,706), and a Tangela-inspired Mont Blanc dessert (¥1,490). As for the new drinks, you have a choice between the Pikachu marron latte (¥918) and a colourful Golbat float topped with ice cream (¥918). A new take on the classic Mont Blanc dessert. You'll be glad to know that the Pokémon Café website is English-friendly – so you can easily book a table online before travelling to Tokyo. When you get to the café, they also have English menus and the staff are over-the-top friendly, so you shouldn't have trouble enjoying yourself. To top off your Pokémon-themed day, you can also stop by the adjoining Pokémon Center and shop for some official merchandise. For more information on the Pokémon Café, visit here.
Where to shop for costumes
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