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What's On in Tokyo: Top 10 Events & Festivals this Autumn
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What's On in Tokyo: Top 10 Events & Festivals this Autumn

Picture of Jessica Dawdy
Updated: 9 February 2017
Autumn is a beautiful time of year to be in Tokyo. The intense summer heat is subsiding and the autumn leaves add color to the streets, keeping everyone’s spirits high. The city is known for its rich mixture of tradition and modernity, and its events are no exception. Here are the top ten events to check out in Tokyo this autumn, from centuries-old celebrations to futuristic robotics exhibitions.

 

Art and Culture l Tokyo Creative Weeks

27 September – 16 November 2014

Tokyo Creative Weeks is a diverse seven-week-long celebration of culture, from traditional to modern. Events take place across the city, with venues ranging from galleries and museums to fish markets and shopping malls. Spectators are encouraged to take part in many events, such as Art Access Adachi which fosters new forms of communication through art; and a workshop in shimai dancing and Noh orchestration, hosted by performers and instructors from the Kita School. Other highlights include performances of geisha dances and rakugo at the Tokyo International Forum; and a exhibition of artwork created by artists with Down’s syndrome and other disabilities at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.

This event will be held in various locations across Tokyo.

tokyo creative weeks
Tokyo Creative Weeks | Courtesy Tokyo Creative Weeks

Food l Hokkaido Fair in Yoyogi

3 October – 5 October 2014

The Hokkaido Fair in Yoyogi celebrates the unique cuisine of Japan’s northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido. Hokkaido is well-known across the country for its fantastic food, and this fair offers an opportunity to sample it, without needing to brave the prefecture’s chilly autumn temperatures. The event features more than 100 food booths serving up the dishes Hokkaido is most famous for, including sashimi, soup curry, lamb, grilled seafood, and miso ramen. Now in its 26th year, the festival is introducing a special 250 yen menu of 33 different dishes, making the event more affordable than ever.

Hokkaido Fair in Yoyogi, Yoyogi Park 2-1 Yoyogi Kamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, +81 11 2412314


Culture l Ikegami Honmonji O-Eshiki

11 October to 13 October

Ikegami Honmonji O-Eshiki is an important annual festival that commemorates the death of Nichiren, a revered Buddhist teacher in the 13th century. The event is celebrated in many places across Japan, but the festivities held at Ikegami Honmonji Temple are particularly significant as this is the temple in which Nichiren passed away. The highlight of the event is a night time parade that moves along a two kilometer route from Ikegami Station to the temple. The parade features musicians, dancers, and thousands of participants carrying mando lanterns decorated with cherry blossoms.

Ikegami Honmonji O-Eshiki, Ikegami Honmonji Temple, 1-1-1, Ikegami, Ota-ku, Tokyo, Japan, +81 3 3752 2331


Culture l Japan Robot Week

15 October – 17 October

Many people associate Tokyo with out-of-this-world modern technology and Japan Robot Week is an opportunity to experience this phenomenon first-hand. This year, the biennial robotics trade show focuses on service bots, which are designed for use in the field of nursing, rehabilitation, education, and disaster response. Like many countries around the world, Japan is seeking innovative ways to support its aging population and a great deal of time and money are being devoted to the development of service bots such as these. The mysterious online event outline stirs curiosity, with robots described as ‘bipedal walking’, ‘excretion support’, and ‘shopping support’. Admission to the event is free with advanced registration, which you can do on their website.

Japan Robot Week, Tokyo Big Sight, 3-11-1 Ariake, Koto, Tokyo, Japan, +81-3 5644 7221

Music l Shibuya Music Festival 2014

18 October to 19 October

Celebrating its 9th year, the Shibuya Music Festival is a lively annual event featuring musical performances all over the Shibuya area. The event showcases a crowd-pleasing mix of genres, including pop, classical, jazz, and traditional Japanese drumming, along with some dance performances to accompany the music. Performances take place at a number of well-known locations, including Marui City Shibuya, Shibuya 109, and Shibuya Kokaido. Most events are free, although there is an admission fee to see the performances at Shibuya Kokaido, which include the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and singer Kaho Shimada.

This event will be held in various locations across Tokyo.

Film l Tokyo International Film Festival

23 October – 31 October 2014

The Tokyo International Film Festival is an important fixture in Japan’s film and culture scene. Now in its 27th year, the festival’s main event features a screening of 15 feature films from around the world which have been selected from more than 1,300 entries. This year, the festival focuses on animated features, opening with the world premiere of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Big Hero 6 film. The event will feature a collection of films by Hideaki Anno, whose works are often compared to famous Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. The festival will also highlight films from other parts of Asia, including China and Hong Kong, along with a selection of Middle Eastern films.

This event will be held in various locations across Tokyo.

Art and Food l Earth Garden Autumn Craft Fair

25 October – 26 October

The Earth Garden Autumn Craft Fair features exhibition booths presented by designers, artists and NPO, along with live music and plenty of food. Yoyogi Park is already known as a center of expression and creativity, and this eco-friendly festival is a chance for the city’s bohemians to showcase their culture. The festival booths sell a variety of handicrafts and eco products, in addition to tasty organic food. The atmosphere is completed by an eclectic mix of musical performances, some of which take place on the festival stage and others arising spontaneously throughout the event area. Be sure to stop by in the evening, when many of the stalls are enchantingly illuminated by candle light.

Earth Garden Autumn Craft Fair, Yoyogi Park 2-1 Yoyogi Kamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, +81 03 5468 3282


Art l Design Festa

8 November – 9 November 2014

Design Festa is a huge 2-day free-style art event open to both professional and amateur artists from around the world. Attracting more than 50,000 visitors and 7,000 artists, the biannual event is among the largest in Asia. Artists can exhibit any type of work as long as it’s original, so expect everything from paintings and jewelry, to film screenings and multimedia art. Visitors are free to browse and enjoy the atmosphere and most of the artwork on display is also available for purchase. Live music is performed on indoor and outdoor stages, and there are plenty of food booths serving up cuisine ranging from Japanese-style hamburgers to Spanish food.

Design Festa, Tokyo Big Sight, 3-11-1 Ariake, Koto, Tokyo, Japan, +81 3 3479 1433

 

tori no ichi
Tori-no-Ichi (Rake Fair) | © Yoshikazu TAKADA/Flickr

Culture l Tori-no-Ichi

10 November – 22 November 2014

Tori-no-ichi is a traditional festival held on the Day of the Rooster in November. Although the festival takes place at shrines and temples around Tokyo and Japan, the festivities in the Asakusa district are among the grandest. More than 200 outdoor stalls selling kumade, a bamboo rake decorated with charms, and festival food are set up around Asakusa. The kumade rakes are said to symbolize the act of raking in good luck and prosperity. Participants typically strive to buy a larger kumade each year, so that they will continue to be blessed with even more good luck. There are also plenty of traditional festival foods for sale, including Yatsugashira potatoes, which are believed to promote fertility.

This event will be held in various locations across Tokyo.

Food l Cheese Festa 2014

11 November – 12 November

Although cheese is not part of traditional Japanese cuisine, it has been making its way into kitchens across the country since the late 19th century. The variety of cheeses available in Japan is not usually as diverse as in Western countries, but cheese is widely available in Japanese supermarkets. November 11 is National Cheese Day in Japan, and Cheese Festa celebrates this holiday with a two-day event featuring cheese-related seminars and tasting sessions. Expect an abundance of free samples as well as opportunities to purchase rare, imported cheeses. A ‘cheese master’ will be on-site to answer visitors’ questions about cheese and will cover topics ranging from recipes to how to pair cheeses with wine and beer.

Cheese Festa, Ebis 303, 3F Event Hall, 1-20-8 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan, +81 364575516

 

By Jessica Dawdy