Tokyo was gripped by Halloween fever over the weekend as thousands turned out in costume and cosplay to attend a number of events across the Japan capital and beyond.
The Halloween weekend kicked off for this reveller in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward on Saturday where a sprawling area east of the Ikebukuro train station complex was given over to the Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Fes.
Ikebukuro has become something of a pop-cultural center in recent years, particularly among female fans of anime and manga, having been host to the female-orientated Animate Girls Festival from 2010.
Since the inaugural Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Fes held in 2014 this festival has gone on to become the largest cosplay event in Japan, according to the event’s organizing executive committee, with last year’s edition attracting around 10,000 cosplayers from Japan and overseas accompanied by some 80,000 visitors and photographers.
Much of the action over the weekend centered on the steps leading up to the Sunshine 60 skyscraper where registered cosplayers gathered to have their photographs taken. The most popular models commanded long queues of enthusiasts, many of whom were kitted out with enough photography tech to rival any media outlet.
Minami-Ikebukuro Park was the starting point for the Ikebukuro Extreme Cosplay Runway which saw cosplayers take off on a loop of the park at staggered intervals before heading a few blocks north for a red carpet finish down Sunshine Dori.
With the cooperation of local retailers, the Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Fes affords fans the chance to shop and dine while in costume, something otherwise frowned upon in Japan.
Perhaps the highlight for some casual visitors to the area then, was the sight of one reveler dressed as a haunting Ronald McDonald-type character who had taken up a window seat at a popular fast-food restaurant for a bite to eat. Although said restaurant wasn’t represented by the costume.
With events in Ikebukuro wrapping up in the early evening, attention turned to Shibuya, and the street parties that fan out from the area’s famous intersection.
A heavy police presence wasn’t enough to prevent the Halloween celebrations in Shibuya living up to a rowdy reputation with arrests made over the weekend for alleged groping and damage caused by the overturning of a truck in the early hours of Sunday morning.
At the time of visiting earlier on the Saturday night though, celebrations appeared to be in reasonable order, with the famed “DJ police” steering costumed foot traffic across the intersection, the bulk of the crowds making their into the narrow streets north of the Shibuya 109 department store where the Halloween action now spills out of the clubs and bars that traditional held it in place.
Here groups paused for photographs and eked out what space might have been available on the sides of the streets to watch the hugger-mugger of zombies, horror movie tributes, and requisite Minions shuffle by.
On Sunday, south of Tokyo, the city of Kawasaki once again laid on its Halloween parade, said to be the largest of its kind in Japan.
Forming part of the Kawasaki Halloween 2018 celebrations, this year was the 22nd anniversary of a parade which first set out in 1997 with around 150 participants spurred on by some 500 onlookers.
How things have changed. Event organizers this year reported parade participants at around 2,200 with some 120,000 onlookers lining the streets of the 1.5 km course east of Kawasaki train station to cheer them on.
Staggered into groups, Sunday’s Halloween parade was divided across the themes of ‘Near Futuristic Costumes & Dance,’ Zombie and Horror,’ ‘Street Culture & Dance,’ and ‘Drag Queen & Sexuality-Free Party,’ with each group lead out by floats which set a thumping musical tone for proceedings.
The groups then merged for the final stretch of the parade along the broad Ekimae Odori before participants and onlookers tried to cram themselves into the Halleven event HQ of the La Cittadella shopping and entertainment complex.
For the 2018 Kawasaki Halloween program parade organizers, the Kawasaki Halloween Project, provided special services for foreign visitors which included multi-language information points and paid spaces to view the parade which could be booked in advance.