Visited the new Toyosu Market on the second day (Oct. 15, 2018) it opened to the public. It’s proving to be massively popular among the curious and sushi lovers. This blog post is for people who plan to visit the market. So you know what to expect.
Toyosu Market is near Shijo-mae Station (seen on the left above) on the Yurikamome Line that runs between Shimbashi and Toyosu Stations.
The official website provides this very basic map of Toyosu Market. There are three blocks/buildings all connected to each other and to Shijo-mae Station via pedestrian overpasses. The red lines on this map show the pedestrian overpass to each block. All three buildings have a long tourist corridor with picture windows to see inside the market.
When the market is open (closed on Sun.), tourists can tour the three Toyosu Market buildings from 5 am to 5 pm. However, there’s not much market action after late morning.
Besides the markets, there are sushi restaurants. The problem with this map is that it doesn’t show where the restaurants are. They are in Blocks 6 and 7. Very crowded though.
Block 7 is where the tuna auctions are held, but the public won’t be able to see the auction area until next Jan. But if you come here by 6 am or so, you should be able to see some tuna being hauled away on the floor. This block also has some restaurants.
Block 6 is the largest building of the three. This is where the sold tuna is carved up. This building also has a large sushi restaurant area that is not indicated on this map. The upper floor also has little shops (Uogashi Yokocho Market) for people who work at the market. They sell knives, tea, etc., and also sell to the public, but the shops close by 2 pm or so.
Block 5 is the fruit and vegetable market. Least crowded. No restaurants inside.
Nice bilingual (Japanese and English) explanatory panels in the corridors. At 2 am, they unload the tuna here. At 4 am, buyers examine the tuna and assess the bid price. At 4:30 am, auction starts. At 7 am, the buyers are busy hauling away the tuna.
Block 6’s restaurant section is the larger one at Toyosu Market. However, all the restaurants were totally crowded with people by 1:30 pm. Many restaurants that were at Tsukiji moved here or opened a branch here. Wanna wait 1 to 2 hours for sushi?? Nope, but these people don’t seem to mind.
If you want sushi and don’t want to wait in line, go to the Tsukiji Outer Market instead.
Long lines everywhere for sushi. The restaurants usually sell out by 2 pm, then they close. The huge crowd is either here for the novelty of a new attraction or they may be a strong sign of Toyosu Market’s massive popularity.
I’m afraid the Tsukiji Outer Market will soon be marginalized by Toyosu Market. The market is the heart and soul, and it’s now in Toyosu. The fishmongers in Toyosu are very gung-ho now and really want the Toyosu brand to exceed the old Tsukiji brand.
Block 6 has many windows for tourists, but you can hardly see anything. We can see just a small slit of the market floor. Just a pathway for the people and turret trucks, you don’t see the sellers. However, I was later told that there is also a viewing deck on the first floor where there is a better view.
Block 6’s upper floor has a section of shops called Uogashi Yokocho Market. (This section is not indicated on the official map.) These are small shops catering mainly to market workers. They also sell to the public. However, by 2:00 pm most of the stores were closing.
Since we couldn’t eat sushi at Toyosu Market, we took the train to Toyosu Station two stops away and had a late lunch there instead. Near Toyosu Station is a restaurant called Cafe Haus. It’s a good restaurant. At least we ate in Toyosu.
On a street corner near Toyosu Station is where 7-11’s first store in Japan opened in 1974. It’s still operating here in the same building. Toyosu is quite a new, modern town. Lots of construction still going on. It’s turning out quite well.
This is the 2018 schedule of Awa Odori dance festivals to be held in the Tokyo/Kanto area (Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Chiba Prefectures) from June to October 2018. Nobody has compiled such a schedule so I did it myself.
Most Awa Odori are held in the summer and a few are held in autumn. A few are held as part of a local festival like Tanabata. Most are held on two days, but a few are held only on one day. Some Awa Odori also have a festival eve events on the day before the Awa Odori.
Official websites usually have information only in Japanese. Click on the train station names to see a Google Map of that station. Double question marks (??) indicate unconfirmed info. Also, an illustrated list of essential Awa Odori vocabulary is provided at the end. (Great for people learning Japanese.)
Note for spectators:
Summer can be very hot and humid. Be prepared with cold drinks, ice pack, etc. Rain (including typhoons) is always possible. A raincoat is better than an umbrella in crowds. Watch the weather and be prepared. Heavy rain or storms can cancel the event. Take pictures/videos only from the sidelines, do not enter the parade route to shoot. Do not use tripods. Strollers should not be used. And no smoking.
Festivals can always be canceled in bad weather. Typhoons and rainstorms are always possible in summer. If the weather forecast looks bad, check whether the festival will be held.
*Awa Odori in Tokushima is held annually on Aug. 12th–15th, 2018.
*Awa Odori scheduled for July 28–29 may be canceled due to the typhoon.
Compiled by Philbert Ono, Updated: Aug. 25, 2018
–JUNE 2018 (6月)–
Hibiya Expo Oedo Matsuri 日比谷大江戸まつり (Tokyo) ・When: June 9–10, 2018, 10:00 am–8:00 pm (till 6:00 pm on 10th) ・Where:Hibiya Park, near Hibiya Station, Kasumigaseki Station, and JR Yurakucho Station. ・About: Only a few awa odori troupes appear in this parade of different festivals.
・Photos: ・Official website:https://www.hibiyapark.info/2018/hibiya-expo-2018/
–JULY 2018 (7月)–
Koiwa Awa Odori 小岩阿波おどり (Katsushika-ku, Tokyo) ・When: July 7, 2018, 6:15 pm–8:15 pm ・Where: Near JR Koiwa Station, North Exit (JR Sobu Line). ・About: New awa odori that started four years ago. About 15 troupes.
・Photos: ・Official website:https://koiwa-awaodri.jimdo.com/
Oedo Niiza Matsuri (Awa Odori) 大江戸新座祭り (阿波おどり) (Niiza, Saitama) ・When: July 21, 2018, 3:30 pm–7:30 pm ・Where: Near JR Niiza Station (JR Musashino Line), South Exit, Furusato Niiza-kan hall area. ・About: The Niiza Awa Odori was held for 32 years until 2014. It has been replaced by this Oedo Niiza Festival in 2015. It is now a local summer festival starting at 11:00 am and featuring a variety of stage entertainment and performers including a school band, hip hop, and samba dancers before climaxing with Awa Odori in the end during 5:05 pm–7:30 pm. About 20 Awa Odori troupes will dance.
・Photos: ・Official website:http://www.ooedo-niiza.com/
Kasei Awa Odori かせい阿波おどり (Nakano-ku, Tokyo) ・When:July 28 (4:00 pm–6:00 pm CANCELLED DUE TO TYPHOON) and 29 (5:00 pm–8:00 pm), 2018 ・Where: Near Toritsu Kasei Station (Seibu Shinjuku Line). ・About: Held since 1979. About 10 troupes will dance along the narrow shopping street near the train station. Since the dance route is narrow, you can see the dancers up close. The dance route is cut in half (north and south) by the train line. Local troupe is Kasei-ren formed by the local neighborhood when the festival started.
・Photos: ・Official website:https://www.facebook.com/%E3%81%8B%E3%81%9B%E3%81%84%E9%80%A3-369020693216519/
Mobara Awa Odori (Mobara Tanabata Matsuri) もばら阿波おどり (Mobara, Chiba) ・When: July 28, 2018, 6:00 pm–8:10 pm (CANCELED DUE TO THE TYPHOON) ・Where: Near JR Mobara Station (JR Sotobo Line), East Exit, Sun City shopping street. ・About: Part of the Mobara Tanabata Matsuri to be held on July 27–29, 2018. On July 28, an opening ceremony will be held at 5:30 pm, and Awa Odori dancing will start at 6 pm. Eleven troupes will appear along a circular route starting and ending at Sogo Shimin Center.
・Photos: http://www.mobara-tanabata.com/picture/awaodori2016.html ・Official website:http://www.mobara-tanabata.com/bbs2.html
Naka-Meguro Summer Festival 中目黒夏まつり (Meguro-ku, Tokyo) ・When: Aug. 4, 2018, 6:00 pm–8:30 pm ・Where: Near Naka-Meguro Station (Tokyu Toyoko Line and Hibiya Line). ・About: It’s a two-day summer festival. The first day (Aug. 4) features Awa Odori (27 troupes) and the second day (Aug. 5) has yosakoi dancers (33 groups). At 5:30 pm on both days, there’s an opening ceremony. They dance along the shopping streets next to the train/subway station, but the streets are narrow and it’s mostly standing room only. Normal people also walk along the streets so it can be hard to get good photos. But you get to see the dancers and musicians up close.
・Photos: ・Official website:http://www.e-nakameguro.com/
Shimo-Kitazawa Ichibangai Awa Odori 下北沢一番街 阿波おどり (Setagaya-ku, Tokyo) ・When: Aug. 18-19, 2018, 6:30 pm–8:30 pm ・Where: Near Shimo-Kitazawa Station, North Exit (Inokashira Line and Odakyu Line). ・About: Held along the Ichibangai shopping streets.There will be around 12 dance troupes on both nights, including Hifumi-ren and Yattoko-ren which are from Shimo-Kitazawa. One troupe will be for anyone to join in and dance (tobi-iri-ren). From 8:10 pm to 8:30 pm, each troupe will give a dance performance at designated places. Note that the streets are quite narrow with little room to sit. It’s basically a standing room-only festival.
・Photos: ・Official website:http://www.shimokita1ban.com/en/awaodori
Ontake Furusato Odori おんたけ ふるさと踊り (Ota-ku, Tokyo) ・When: Aug. 19, 2018, 6:00 pm–8:30 pm ・Where: Near Ontakesan Station (Tokyu Ikegami Line). ・About: A two-day dance festival with a Bon dance held on the first night (Aug. 18) and Awa Odori on the second night. There will be around five Awa Odori dance troupes. Most are quite famous in Tokyo. The local troupes includes Kusunoki-ren.
・Photos: ・Official website: https://otakushoren.com/cp-bin/wp/events/10501
Koenji Awa Odori (Koenji, Suginami-ku, Tokyo) ・When: Aug. 25–26, 2018, 5:00 pm–8:00 pm ・Where: Near JR Koenji Station (JR Chuo Line) and Shin-Koenji Station (Marunouchi subway line). ・About: Tokyo’s biggest Awa Odori with over 50 dance troupes each evening and a million spectators over the two days. There are multiple venues or roads where they dance. The larger roads are very crowded, but the narrower parade paths are less crowded. Go early if you want to sit in a good spot.
・Photos: http://photoguide.jp/pix/thumbnails.php?album=337 ・Official website:http://koenji-awaodori.com/
Misato Awa Odori (Japan Festa Autumn) みさと阿波おどり (Misato, Saitama) ・When: Oct. 28, 2018, 10:00 am–3:00 pm ・Where:Misato Park (From JR Kanamachi Station on the JR Joban Line, take the bus bound for Misato Station or Misato Chuo Station and get off at Takasu-chiku Bunka Center Iriguchi. Or from Misato Station on the JR Musashino Line or Misato Chuo Station on the Tsukuba Express Line, take a bus bound for Kanamachi Station Minami-guchi and get off at Misato Koen-mae.) ・About: Festival featuring not only awa odori, but also taiko drummers. Misato Park is on the border with Katsushika Ward’s Mizumoto Park in Tokyo.
・Photos: ・Official website:http://www.geocities.jp/satoplco/awa/awa.htm
–AWA ODORI ESSENTIAL VOCABULARY (Illustrated)–
Awa Odori (阿波おどり)
Awa Odori (阿波おどり or 阿波踊り) – Dance of Awa Province. “Awa” is the old name for present-day Tokushima Prefecture where the dance originated. “Awa” does not mean “bubble” (泡) in this case. “Odori” means “dance.” It is based on the bon dance to welcome returning spirits of the deceased.
ren (連) – Awa Odori dance troupe. The troupe’s name is tagged with “ren” at the end. A few troupes use a different tag instead of “ren.” A troupe consists of child, male, and female dancers and musicians. At the head is a pole lantern bearing the name of the troupe. “Jimoto-ren” (地元連) is a troupe from the place where the Awa Odori is held. And “shotai-ren” (招待連) are invited troupes.
Niwaka-ren (にわか連) – Dance troupe for anyone to freely join in and dance (tobi-iri sanka). No special costume required. Easy to spot since they wear no uniform and look disorganized. Some Awa Odori festivals have a Niwaka-ren. Or sometimes at the end, anyone can join in with the dance troupe.
embujo (演舞場) – Dance venue where the troupes dance for spectators. This is usually a section of a street or large avenue. There may be bleachers or just a sidewalk where people can sit and watch. The bleachers are for paid seating. The venue may also be called “kaijo” (会場) which is a generic term for venue and may be numbered.
Nagashi-odori (dance parade)
nagashi-odori (流し踊り) – Dancers dance while moving down the road in a parade.
kumi-odori (組踊り) – Instead of moving in a parade, the dancers perform in one location for a prolonged period around 15-20 min. It could be a special area along the parade route or a stage. Often performed as the final number.
otoko odori (男踊り)
otoko odori (男踊り)
otoko odori (男踊り) – Men’s dance where they crouch low with the knees pointed outward. They usually wear a happi coat, shorts, and tabi socks. They may also dance with an uchiwa fan or paper lantern. Children and women can also dance the men’s dance. In the troupe, otoko odori usually appears before the onna odori.
onna odori (女踊り)
onna odori (女踊り) – Women’s dance. They wear a yukata, crescent-shaped hat, and wooden geta clogs. They dance in various formations while hopping on their clogs. Elegant-looking and the troupe’s main members.
aho (阿保) – Fool. Awa Odori dancers shake their hands above their heads. This is happens to be the Japanese gesture to indicate one’s idiocy. So it is nicknamed the “fool’s dance.”
“Yatto-sa! Yatto-sa!” (ヤットサーヤットサー)
“Yatto-sa! Yatto-sa!” (ヤットサーヤットサー) – “Yatto-sa, yatto-yatto, yoisa, yatto-sa!” A dance cheer often shouted by dancers. It means, “Long time no see! How have you been?” This is not normal Japanese.
yakko odori (やっこ踊り)
yakko odori (やっこ踊り) – Kite dance with an acrobatic dancer miming as a kite controlled by a kite handler with an invisible string. Humorous and dramatic especially when the kite does cartwheels and somersaults. Only a few troupes perform the kite dance.
narimono (鳴り物) – Musicians. They appear at the end of the dance troupe and consist of flute players (fue 笛), shamisen players (三味線), bell player (kane 鉦) who sets the rhythm, and taiko drummers at the end.
“If you don’t visit Asakusa, you haven’t seen Tokyo” is what I always tell my tourist friends visiting Tokyo, even those who don’t like crowds or tourist traps. Amid this megacity’s modernity, Asakusa is an oasis of Tokyo’s “old town.” Asakusa’s fame and popularity is owed to Sensoji Temple (浅草寺), Tokyo’s most famous and popular Buddhist temple also called “Asakusa Kannon Temple.”
The iconic symbol of Sensoji Temple and Asakusa is Kaminarimon Gate or “Thunder Gate,” the temple’s main gate with a giant red paper lantern. It is one of Japan’s most photographed buildings and a prime spot for “I’m in Tokyo” selfies. Both the gate (rebuilt in 1960) and giant paper lantern were donated by a major Japanese electronics company (Matsushita aka Panasonic). The giant paper lantern can be collapsed from the bottom up to make way for portable shrines, etc., passing through.
Right after Thunder Gate is the Nakamise-dori path (仲見世通り) of touristy souvenir shops leading to Sensoji Temple. They sell just about all the Japanese trinkets you can imagine, including T-shirts, kimono (yukata), and happi coats. Lots of edible things too, like chestnuts and fried manju.
Nakamise ends with Hozomon Gate (宝蔵門) housing another large paper lantern and a pair of Nio guardians protecting the temple. Hozomon Gate (“Treasure Storage Gate”) was reconstructed in 1964 with ferroconcrete. The second floor houses Important Cultural Properties (not open to the public). The back of the gate has a pair of giant straw sandals to scare away evil spirits fearful of the giant guardian the sandals belong to.
After Hozomon Gate is the heart of Sensoji Temple (and Asakusa) with the picturesque five-story pagoda and Hondo main hall. Before entering the main hall, you may want to catch some smoke from the incense burner. Worshippers scoop the smoke to the parts of their bodies they want to heal. Students studying for entrance exams might fan some smoke to their heads.
The main hall has a traditional design, but it was rebuilt in 1958 with ferroconcrete after the previous building from the 17th century was destroyed during World War II. Sensoji’s main hall has been destroyed (by fire, lightning, earthquakes, war, etc.) and rebuilt almost 20 times throughout the centuries. It is Sensoji’s largest building and similar in design to the previous Hondo built in 1649. Inside is a large altar for Kannon (kept hidden), popularly called the “Goddess of Mercy.” It is actually a benevolent, female Bodhisattva. Sensoji used to belong to the Tendai Buddhist sect, but it is now an independent Buddhist temple and sect.
The five-story pagoda was reconstructed in 1973 with ferroconcrete. The top floor stores some ashes of the Buddha brought from a temple in Sri Lanka in 1966. Its corroding aluminum roof tiles were replaced with titanium tiles in 2017.
According to legend, in 628, two fishermen brothers, Hamanari and Takenari Hinokuma, found a golden Kannon buddha statue while fishing in Sumida River. Their mentor Hajinoma Nakatomo recognized the statue’s religious significance, became a monk, and converted his home into a small temple for the statue. This temple eventually grew to become Sensoji, and Asakusa also developed and prospered. Considered to be the founders of Asakusa, these three men have been deified by Asakusa Shrine (adjacent to Sensoji Temple) and honored annually by the Sanja Matsuri in May, one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals.
Sensoji’s main hall, pagoda, and Hozomon Gate have been recently reroofed with titanium roof tiles instead of traditional clay tiles. Since the titanium roof tiles can be painted to look like traditional roof tiles, you can’t tell the difference. Titanium roof tiles are much more expensive than clay tiles, but they are much cheaper to maintain due to their high strength, durability, and corrosion resistance to acid rain and salt air. Titanium tiles are also much lighter and smaller than clay tiles to make the building much less top heavy. Top-heavy, Japanese-style buildings are more prone to collapse in a major earthquake.
Sensoji and Asakusa hold numerous festivals and events throughout the year. During New Year’s, the temple is crowded with worshippers praying for a prosperous and safe year. On Feb. 3, there is Setsubun when they throw lucky beans. In April, see the elegant White Heron Dance (Shirasagi-no-Mai), Asakusa Yabusame horseback archery, and Hanamatsuri or Buddha’s birthday. Also in April, in a neighborhood behind Sensoji, the Ichiyo Sakura Matsuri Oiran Dochu is a pretty procession of Oiran courtesans.
Asakusa also has genuine geisha since it has historically been a geisha district. They kindly hold free geisha dance performances in spring and autumn at the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center. (Video here.) Check the performance schedule here: http://e-asakusa.jp/en/culture-experience/5890
When in Asakusa, be sure to visit the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center near Kaminarimon Gate and Asakusa Station (Ginza and Toei Asakusa subway lines, Tsukuba Express, and Tobu Skytree Line). It’s in the distinctive eight-story building designed by Kengo Kuma (who also designed the 2020 Tokyo Olympics main stadium). You can’t miss it. They have English-speaking staff and brochures in English. The eighth floor terrace also gives great views of Asakusa. No matter when you visit Asakusa, there’s always something going on. A truly blessed place.
*This article is an expanded version of my article published in via magazine, the onboard magazine of the Airport Limousine bus in the Tokyo area and lobby magazine at all branches of Mizuho Bank in Japan.
One of Tokyo’s most famous Buddhist temples, Zojoji (増上寺) is a major temple in the Shiba area of Minato Ward, Tokyo. It belongs to the Jodo-shu Pure Land sect (headquartered at Chion-in Temple in Kyoto).
Soon after it moved to its present site in 1598, Zojoji became the Tokugawa shogun’s family temple. A family temple is where family members are buried and periodic Buddhist prayers are held for them. With the Tokugawa being Japan’s most prominent clan during the Edo Period (1603–1868), their two family temples, Zojoji and Kan’eiji, were greatly expanded. They built grand mausoleums for themselves similar to the one in Nikko (Tochigi Prefecture) for Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa shogun. Six Tokugawa shoguns (Hidetada, Ienobu, Ietsugu, Ieshige, Ieyoshi, and Iemochi) are buried at Zojoji and six at Kan’eiji (寛永寺).
Besides the mausoleums, a huge complex of subtemples and
dormitories for over 3,000 priests in training were built at Zojoji by the
mid-17th century. After the demise of the Tokugawa by 1868, Zojoji was greatly
scaled back in 1873. Zojoji’s vast temple grounds were divided into smaller
parcels now occupied by Shiba Park, Tokyo Tower, Minato City Hall, two major
hotels, public schools, and other buildings. A similar fate befell Kan’eiji
whose property became Ueno Park, Shinobazu Pond, and Ueno Station.
During World War II air raids, Zojoji lost many buildings including the magnificent Tokugawa mausoleums which were National Treasures. The mausoleums were never rebuilt and the Tokugawa tombs are now in a small plot behind the temple that can be viewed by the public.
When you visit Zojoji, the first building you see is the huge Sangedatsu-mon Gate (三解脱門). Built in 1622, it is the temple’s only building remaining from the 17th century. “Sangedatsu” means to be released from the three earthly states of mind: greed, anger and stupidity. The gate has been immortalized by Hiroshige’s woodblock prints.
After this gate, behold a striking contrast between the Daiden main worship hall (大殿) and Tokyo Tower (built in 1958) behind it. Rebuilt in 1974, the Daiden Hall worships a large Amida Buddha carved during the Muromachi Period (1336–1573). Anyone can enter.
In Daiden Hall’s basement is the Zojoji Treasure Exhibition Room displaying a scale model of Taitoku-in Mausoleum (admission ¥700, closed Tue.). Dedicated to the second Tokugawa shogun Hidetada, Taitoku-in Mausoleum was Zojoji’s grandest and served as the model for Ieyasu’s Toshogu Shrine mausoleum in Nikko.
Shogun fans will have to see Zojoji’s Mausoleum of Tokugawa Shoguns (徳川将軍家墓所). It’s behind the Daiden Hall and there’s a small admission fee. The Mausoleum has the tombs of six Tokugawa Shoguns (the 2nd shogun Hidetada, 6th shogun Ienobu, 7th shogun Ietsugu, 9th shogun Ieshige, 12th shogun Ieyoshi, and 14th shogun Iemochi), Imperial Princess Kazunomiya (wife of Shogun Iemochi), and wives and children of shoguns. A total of 38 people are buried here. Photos of all the Tokugawa tombs: http://photoguide.jp/pix/thumbnails.php?album=254
On Feb. 3, Zojoji Temple holds the annual Setsubun festival when celebrities throw lucky beans to the crowd. It starts before noon with a procession of Buddhist priests going to the main hall. Then from an elevated platform in front of the Daiden Hall, celebrities throw beans at the huge crowd trying to catch the beans. Lots of fun and laughs. But don’t ever try to pick beans on the ground. It’s dangerous because people can knock you over as they jostle for the flying beans.
From late March to early April, enjoy the cherry blossoms around the temple. Zojoji has a number of other buildings.
If you have time, also visit nearby Tokyo Tower built in 1958. Although it is no longer the tallest structure in Tokyo, it still gives great bird’s eye views of Tokyo. Adjacent Shiba Park is also pretty in spring with cherry blossoms and views of Tokyo Tower.
Zojoji is a short walk from JR Hamamatsu-cho Station and three subway stations: Daimon, Onarimon, and Shiba Koen.
*This article is an expanded version of my article published in via magazine, the onboard magazine of the Airport Limousine bus in the Tokyo area and lobby magazine at all branches of Mizuho Bank in Japan.
Happy Halloween in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan’s massive costume street gathering on Oct. 31, 2016. Saw it for the first time from about 9 pm to 10:30 pm. Costumers and cosplayers of all kinds gathered in Shibuya for three nights in a row since Sat. night on the 29th. Last night was the largest gathering despite Halloween falling on a weekday this year.
Japan is the world’s undisputed Cosplay Super Power. Where the word “cosplay” was invented in the 1990s. Combine that with the “kawaii culture” and you create a street photographer’s paradise.
News reports this year have indicated that Halloween in Japan is fast becoming a major seasonal/commercial event, on par with Valentine’s Day (when Japanese chocolate makers make most of their annual sales). Halloween merchandise has been taking off in Japan.
Good, clean fun for everyone. There must’ve been at least 200,000 people at least. The entire Hachiko (dog) plaza was full of people. Ironically, nobody said “trick or treat” and I didn’t see anyone giving out Halloween candy. (No one carried candy bags either.) Japan invents its own Halloween (and Valentine’s Day).
For the first time this year, the police wisely closed off a few major roads around Shibuya Station for Halloween. Even then, the road to 109 and Dogenzaka were filled with people. I can’t imagine how crowded the sidewalks must’ve been until last year when they didn’t do this.
I’m really glad that the police are being very cooperative by closing the roads to traffic. Usually, the police kill off such street culture events due to snarled traffic and complaints about the noise, etc. People in Akihabara still cannot stage street performances when the roads are closed to traffic (hokoten) on weekends. But Shibuya is very welcoming of these costumers. Hopefully, they didn’t litter the streets as much as before.
The main attraction for these costumers is that they meet other costumers and take photos together. Great way to meet people (and ask for phone numbers).
Halloween in Shibuya is now a major tourist attraction in Tokyo. Lots of tourists posed with willing costumers. Nothing like this happens on Valentine’s Day nor Christmas. I have no doubt that this event will start attracting major celebrities. Think Lady Gaga, etc. Gonna get even more crazy.
You see all these weird costume collaborations. Captain America and China girls. They just get together spontaneously.
This all-night Halloween event is becoming Tokyo’s rare venue for a vibrant youth street culture. We should have more street events like this. I haven’t seen such a massive street event in Japan in a long time. There’s no organizer, no sponsors, no set event time, but it still happens. Just a spontaneous, massive street gathering. Unbelievable.