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October 2020 events in Tokyo

Plan your October in Tokyo with our events calendar of the best things to do, including concerts, food festivals and art exhibits

By Time Out Tokyo Editors

October is one of the nicest months in Tokyo – it's still warm enough to have fun outside, and there's a boatload of great events going on all around the city. A number of autumn matsuri take place in October, in addition to Tokyo classics from Jinbocho's Book Town week to the Kappabashi Kitchen Tools Festival. October is also the season for moon-viewing, a wide range of food events and, of course, Halloween.

Our October highlights

Prismatic Cloud
Ginza Six

1. Prismatic Cloud at Ginza Six

Art Ginza Six, Ginza

The ritzy Ginza Six department store will be decked out with a mesmerizing cloud-like art installation created by Japanese designer and artist, Yoshioka Tokujin, from February 27 until the end of October. His works have been displayed all around the world including at the Musée d'Orsay and the Art Institute of Chicago. Recently, Tokujin turned heads with his designs for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic torches...

Peter Doig
Photo:《Night Bathers》2019, oil on hemp, 200 × 275 cm, collection of the artist © Peter Doig. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London.All rights reserved, DACS & JASPAR 2019 C3006

2. Peter Doig exhibition

Art The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Takebashi

  Contemporary Scottish figurative painter Peter Doig is having his maiden exhibition in Japan at the National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, where you can see a range of his works, from his earliest to some of his most recent. His style draws on artists like Paul Gaugin, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse and Edvard Munch while incorporating imagery inspired by movie scenes and advertisements to create art with a romantic yet mysterious feel...


3. Sanja Matsuri

Things to do Festivals Asakusa Shrine, Asakusa

Tokyo's biggest and best traditional festival celebrated its 700th birthday in 2012, though every year's a special year where the Sanja Matsuri is concerned. First held back in 1312, the event celebrates the three men who founded Asakusa's Sensoji Temple, and draws over a million visitors to the neighbourhood over the course of three days...

Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London
Vincent Van Gogh, Sunflower, 1888, Oil on canvas, 92.1 x 73cm. © The National Gallery, London

4. Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London

Art The National Museum of Western Art, Ueno

London’s National Gallery is revered far and wide for its comprehensive collection of European master painters, and ranks as one of the ten most visited art museums in the world. This show, held in Tokyo before travelling to Osaka in July, is the very first time in the institution’s almost two-century-long history that a large-scale exhibition of highlights from its bountiful collection has been held outside of the National Gallery’s own walls...


5. Edogawa Fireworks Festival

Things to do Banks of the Edogawa, Edogawa

The Edogawa Fireworks Festival deploys over 13,000 rockets, with different themes every few minutes. This is Tokyo’s most eastern hanabi, but don’t be late: the show starts in style with 1,000 sparkling rockets shot up at once within the first five seconds, marking a breathtaking start into a colourful performance.

Kitawaki Noboru
Kitawaki Noboru, Diagram of I Ching Divination (Heaven and Earth), 1941

6. Kitawaki Noboru: To See the Universe in a Seed

Art The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Takebashi

The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, draws upon its extensive collection to offer a different perspective on the work of avant-garde painter Kitawaki Noboru (1901-1951). Active in Kyoto during the ’30s and ’40s, Kitawaki has until now been assessed in terms of the influence he derived from the Surrealists...

Yoyogi Village Beer Terrace
Photo: Kurkku

7. Yoyogi Village Beer Terrace

Things to do Yoyogi Village, Yoyogi

Providing a more eco-conscious alternative to the average Tokyo mall, Yoyogi Village is bringing back its annual beer garden for summer. Again taking over the faux beach at the complex, this beer garden’s theme is  'The Apero', so picture a relaxing environment decked out with plants from Sora Botanical Garden Project, a horticultural studio.  For ¥5,000 (¥5,500 on weekends) you can get a seven course meal with an all-you-can-drink plan, which includes an array of beer, highballs, and much more.

Schmatz BBQ Beer Garden
Photo: Schmatz

8. Schmatz BBQ Beer Garden

Bars and pubs Lumine Ikebukuro, Ikebukuro

Popular German craft beer brand Schmatz takes over two floors at Lumine Ikebukuro with its annual beer garden serving modern German cuisine. The eighth floor features a beer garden with plenty of brews and even some banana and mango flavoured beer cocktails. There are regular cocktails, highballs, shochu and wine as well, of course. You can grab small meals and side dishes here including sausage platters, pretzels and spiced curry, but head to the ninth floor if you’re looking to fill up. It’s stocked with an assortment of veggies and meat you can barbeque on the grill yourself.


9. Designart Tokyo 2020

Art Multiple venues

A festival dedicated to all things (you guessed it) design and art, Designart Tokyo is back for its fourth edition and set to take over central Tokyo from Omotesando to Shibuya, Nakameguro and Roppongi for 12 days in October. The brainchild of Creative Director Akio Aoki, artist Shun Kawakami and architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, Designart Tokyo will  see shops, galleries, cafés, restaurants and other venues host work by artists from Japan and around the world...

Photo: BBQ Village

10. BBQ Village

Restaurants Keio Floral Garden Ange, Chofu

Spend a relaxing evening by the beautiful pond at this botanical garden in Tamagawa and enjoy three hours of unlimited beers and cocktails to boot. The all-you-can-drink plan is set at a reasonable ¥1,650 during the day and ¥2,200 in the evenings, and even offers a ¥500 soft drink plan for those who want to skip the booze. For an additional amount (starting at ¥2,980), you can receive a barbeque platter, which includes a variety of meat and the specialty grilled cheesy potatoes.

 Meiji Jingu Forest Festival of Art
名和晃平《White Deer (Meiji Jingu)》2020 ブロンズに塗装 Photo: Keizo Kioku

11. Meiji Jingu Forest Festival of Art

Art Meiji Shrine & Inner Garden, Harajuku

A celebration of art and culture set in the forest surrounding Meiji Shrine, this festival – co-presented by Japan Cultural Expo – zooms in on the relationship between nature and Japanese culture. The diverse art programme, which coincides with the host venue Meiji Shrine's 100th anniversary, is running until 2021. Held at the shrine along with its immediate vicinity, the Meiji Jingu Forest Festival of Art kicks off with ‘Tenkukaikatsu’, an open-air sculpture exhibition running until December 13 2020...

Stars Exhibition
Photo: Pink Boat 1992, stuffed sewn fabric, boat, pair-oar 90 x 350 x 180 cm, Yayoi Kusuma, Nagoya City Art Museum

12. Stars: Six Contemporary Artists from Japan to the World

Art Mori Art Museum, Roppongi

Stars brings together six celebrated figures from the Japanese modern art scene, each of whom rose to prominence as the country became Asia’s first postwar economic powerhouse, and transcended Japan’s cultural borders to capture imaginations worldwide. The careers of Yayoi Kusama, Tatsuo Miyajima, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Hiroshi Sugimoto and South Korean-born Lee Ufan, a resident of Japan for over six decades, are traced from their earliest works through to new pieces specially commissioned for this show...

Tamotsu Kido
Tamotsu Kido, Sunlight and Mandarin Orange, 2019. C-Print ©Tamotsu Kido

13. Time Flows: Reflections by 5 Artists

Art Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Shinagawa

Set inside a distinguished European-style building dating back to the 1930s, the Hara Museum is one of Tokyo’s most appealing art venues – and it is featured in a number of works across this group show. Works by photographers Tomoki Imai, Tamotsu Kido and Tokihiro Sato; multi-media artist Lee Kit; and the late animator Masaharu Sato capture the flux and flow of the world, offering hints as to how we might pick up on things overlooked in our increasingly hectic, information-saturated times.


14. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cafe

Things to do Kichijoji Parco, Kichijoji

Now you can enjoy your favourite children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, with your taste buds at this pop-up café in Kichijoji Parco. Designed to look like a fruit parlor, you’ll get to eat the hungry caterpillar’s favourite fruits in both sweet and savoury dishes at the café. Order The Very Hungry Caterpillar Fruit Curry, which isa delectable pork curry made with fruits and tomato, topped with an apple, and accompanied by banana shaped rice...


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