10 Things to Do in Tokyo in October

Want to see the most beautiful autumn you've ever seen? Then travel to Tokyo where you can also enjoy traditional celebrations, Halloween parades and much more.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

11 min read

10 Things to Do in Tokyo in October

Tokyo | ©Seiji Enokido

No doubt among the list of things to do in Tokyo you should add the celebrations that take place in the month of October. The arrival of autumn marks the beginning of a traditional practice called momijigari, or autumn leaf hunting. Also popular at the end of the month are the Halloween celebrations, which although not originally from Japan, are very iconic.

Other celebrations are traditional to Japanese culture and are ideal if you're looking to learn about Japan. These include visits to Buddhist temples, food festivals and much more. Travelling to Tokyo, one of the world's most important urban centres, is a special opportunity to learn about customs that are totally different from your own, especially if you go in October.

1. Enjoy momiji, the changing colours of autumn leaves

Autumn in Tokyo| ©nakashi
Autumn in Tokyo| ©nakashi

Autumn is a very popular season in Japan, especially because of the reddening of the leaves on the maple trees. This change, known as momiji, begins in late September and lasts until October. During this period, Japanese people often go on hikes and outings to enjoy the scenery. This practice is known as momijigari, which means "hunting for autumn leaves".

There is a spring version of this tradition when you can enjoy the cherry trees, but if you go in October, the maples will be with you. Originally a custom of the nobility, it became popular over time. One of the things to do in Tokyo in autumn is to visit several places where you can see momiji in all its glory.

You can go to Koshu Kaido Icho-namiki Street in Hachioji or Meiji Jingu Gaien Street in Aoyama Ward. You can also go to Koishikawa Korakuen Park or Rikugien Park in Tokyo. Other great places to enjoy momiji include Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park and even downtown Tokyo. All are places where you can get in for free and take beautiful pictures with dreamy scenery, which you can even dedicate a tour to.

Book a photo tour in Tokyo

2. Celebrate Halloween in Tokyo

Halloween in Tokyo| ©Alexandre Nishizaki
Halloween in Tokyo| ©Alexandre Nishizaki

If you like Halloween you could celebrate it in a different way in Tokyo. In the Shibuya and Shinjuku neighbourhoods every year on the night of 31 October there is a high concentration of people in costume. The authorities close the streets during the event to avoid accidents, but there is no major organisation. If you like, you can go in costume and take pictures with other people wearing Halloween costumes or go to a bar in the area.

If you are a fan of anime and manga, then you should attend the Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Festival which takes place between 29 and 30 October. The entrance fee is around €10 and you should prepare your costume at the festival site.

You can also attend the Kichijoji Halloween Festival, a family event, especially aimed at mothers and their children, which costs around €15 on average. If you don't feel like going to a parade or festival, I recommend visiting shopping centres or shops. It is advisable to take a guided tour to familiarise yourself with the area and find the best places and restaurants.

Book a guided tour in Tokyo

3. Taste the typical autumn food in Japan

Oden| ©ayako
Oden| ©ayako

The autumn season brings not only different festivals, celebrations and weather changes, but also seasonal food. If you are in Tokyo you will surely find restaurants where you can try this seasonal food. Keep in mind that on average a meal in Tokyo can cost €10 or more, although this also depends on where you choose to eat.

Among the season's favourite dishes is oden, ideal for lunch or dinner. It is made with a soy-flavoured dashi broth. You can also have boiled egg, Japanese radish, fish cakes and cabbage or tofu rolls.

As for drinks, you must try the seasonal sake, which in this case are Hiyaoroshi and Akiagari, distilled in winter and aged for months until the arrival of autumn in October.

Rice is always present in Japanese cuisine and autumn is when the first harvest is harvested, so don't miss the opportunity to eat shinmai or new rice. Other foods to try include nashi (Asian pear), kuri (Japanese chestnuts) and yakiimo (roasted sweet potato).

Book a food tour in Tokyo

4. Celebrate Sports and Health Day

Sports and Health Day| ©PICA
Sports and Health Day| ©PICA

The Japanese government decreed the second Monday in October as the National Sports and Health Day or Taiiku no Hi. It is a public holiday that also commemorates the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, an event that popularised many foreign sports in Japan. Judo was also introduced as an Olympic sport at these games.

Sport and a healthy lifestyle are promoted all over the country. In addition to finding events related to this celebration, be aware that many people take advantage of the day off to do other activities. Hotels and restaurants can easily fill up from the weekend.

On this day you can take the opportunity to watch sports in Tokyo's parks, especially if they are of Asian origin. Many martial arts and even baseball may be available on this holiday. However, it is more of a family celebration. Schools and clubs organise activities and friendly sports competitions that you can attend without any inconvenience.

5. Celebrate Oeshiki festival and visit Ikegami Honmonji Temple

Ikegami Honmonji Temple| ©Chika Oka
Ikegami Honmonji Temple| ©Chika Oka

In mid-October there is the Oeshiki festival, an event commemorating the anniversary of the death of the monk Nichiren Daishonin. He is an important historical and religious figure for Japan as he was the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, one of the most important cults in East Asia.

The Ikegami Honmon-ji temple in Tokyo, where the festival is held, receives around 300,000 people during these days. One of the most outstanding activities is the Rinmetsu Doji Hoyo service, in which monks and believers gather to pray to give thanks to Nichiren.

In addition to this activity, during the procession you will be able to see street food stalls and enjoy the food on offer. There is also a mantle parade, held towards the end of the festival from 6 p.m. to midnight.

The manto are memorial objects in the shape of 5-tiered towers that are decorated with flowers and roses made of washi paper. They are illuminated from the inside and are a typical object of Japanese celebrations. During this event about 3000 people carry 100 shawls through the streets of Tokyo for about 2 kilometres. It is a beautiful sight.

Practical information

  • Location: Ikegami Honmon-ji temple, Tokyo.
  • When to go: mid-October.
  • Price: free admission.
  • Opening hours: 3 days from 8am.

6. Attend Mori no Takigi Noh at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden| ©Kakidai
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden| ©Kakidai

In Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden every year in late October or early September there is an event called Mori no Takigi Noh. It is a performance that mixes traditional Noh drama and traditional kyogen or Japanese comedy.

The area where the performance takes place is decorated with lighted torches that come to life in the late afternoon. This is the ideal setting for this artistic and traditional act that aims to raise awareness among its audience about climate change and its effects on life on planet Earth. Ticket prices range from approximately €30 to €60.

This garden also offers different spaces to the public such as a formal garden, a landscape garden and a traditional garden. It is undoubtedly one of the most important gardens in the country as it offers landscapes that cannot be seen elsewhere in Japan.

Practical information

  • Location: Shinjuku Gyoen National Park. 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0014, Japan.
  • When to go: late October or early September.
  • Price: approximately €60 - €30.
  • Opening hours: 18:00 h -21:00 h

7. Celebrate the Tokyo Ramen Show

Tokyo Ramen Show| ©Bytemarks
Tokyo Ramen Show| ©Bytemarks

If you are a fan of Japanese food and even more so of instant food, the Tokyo Ramen Show should be one of the celebrations to attend when you travel to Japan. This festival dedicated to ramen is held at the Komazawa Olympic Park and general admission is free.

However, if you want to try the ramen you must buy a ticket which costs an average of €6. The festival has been held since 2009. It usually takes place in the last days of October and may coincide with the first days of November. It lasts on average 2 weeks. Ramen shops from all over Japan gather here, so you can taste the best food.

As I said, it is the ideal event for you to try Japanese food. During the event you will have the opportunity to try different types of ramen that you may have never tried before. If you like ramen, I also recommend you to go on a food tour in Tokyo. Food is one of the best ways to get to know a new country.

Practical information

  • Location: Komazawa Olympic Park. 1-1 Komazawakoen, Setagaya City, Tokyo 154-0013, Japan.
  • When to go: 2 weeks at the end of October.
  • Price: free if you just go in to watch. To enjoy a bowl of ramen you need to buy a ticket for an average cost of €6.
  • Opening hours: the website announces these details annually.

Traveller Tip
If you have never tried Japanese food I recommend you do a little research before trying the dishes on offer. Some recipes can be spicy or a bit bitter. Always ask about the ingredients and have some medicine on hand to help with digestion. It is important to take care of your health, especially when you are on holiday.

8. Enjoy urban arts at the Tokyo Ramen Festival

Tokyo Festival| ©Jonas Bengtsson
Tokyo Festival| ©Jonas Bengtsson

For street art fans, October is the best month to visit Tokyo. During this month the Tokyo Festival takes place, a comprehensive celebration of urban arts held in the Ikebukuro area of Japan's capital. The festival runs throughout the month of October and each event requires a separate ticket, which can range in price from €10 to €15.

The aim of this celebration is to connect with the world through Tokyo's rich cultural scene. The arts and culture in Tokyo are very diverse and the city is home to many talented artists. Attendees will see a variety of plays, dances and other artistic expressions.

Events planned throughout the month include lectures on art in a global context. This may not be the event to attend as it is unlikely that there will be a translator. However, if you look closely at their calendar, you will find dances to enjoy and other events that are free of charge. For these you will need to book in advance.

Each of the events takes place in a different location. To find out how to get there you can go to the access section on the festival's official website. However, you will find those details in the calendar I mentioned before.

Practical info

  • Location: each event takes place in a different location.
  • When to go: during the whole month of October. You need to check the website to find out which events are taking place.
  • Price: the cost of tickets can vary. Some are free and others can cost between €10 and €15.
  • Timetable: the website announces these details for each activity.

9. Enjoy traditional dances at the Tokyo Yosakoi Festival

Tokyo Yosakoi Festival| ©Akiyoko7
Tokyo Yosakoi Festival| ©Akiyoko7

If you want to see the customs of Japan I invite you to the Tokyo Yosakoi festival. This event is held during October and is the second half of the Fukuro Matsuri, the annual Ikebukuro festival. To see it, all you have to do is find out which streets the dancers will pass through. These are usually streets in the Ikebukuro district, which are great for walking.

Yosakoi is a type of dance that has been practiced since 1954 and is a modern interpretation of another dance known as Awa odori. It is an energetic dance that combines the traditional with modern music. The dances are performed in large groups, which is why large shows such as those presented at the festival are organised.

This type of dance is so important that there is even a Yosakoi Cultural Association that promotes this dance and its tradition. Would you like to enjoy this traditional dance?

10. Bring the kids to celebrate Halloween in a parade for them

Omotesando Hello Halloween Pumpkin Parade| ©Tabea Greuner
Omotesando Hello Halloween Pumpkin Parade| ©Tabea Greuner

The Omotesando Hello Halloween Pumpkin Parade is an event that has been held since 1982 in which approximately 3000 children aged 12 and under participate. Each of them must be in costume and accompanied by their representative.

In addition to enjoying the costumes and parades, attendees can sample the menu offered by nearby shops and cafes. All of the venues decorate their premises with a Halloween theme. All in all it is a very colourful, colourful and special event for the whole family.

This is definitely one of the best things to do in Tokyo with children as it is designed especially for them. Please note that if you are travelling with children and want to participate you must register in advance, but if you are a spectator you don't need to. For more information and details, it is important that you check the official website of the event.

The parade takes place from 13:00 to 14:30 on 31 October along Omotesando Avenue in the Harajuku district of Tokyo. One of the most fun activities for children is trick-or-treating at the shops marked on the Okashi Rally Map given to all participants.

Practical information

  • Location: Harajuku Ward, Tokyo.
  • When to go: Held every 31 October, on Halloween.
  • Price: around €15.
  • Hours: 13:00 h -14:30 h

What the weather is like in October in Tokyo

Tokyo| ©Yosomono
Tokyo| ©Yosomono

Some people who have travelled to Japan say that October is the best time to visit Tokyo as the weather is warm, with temperatures around 22°C. It is also the month when the weather is warmest. It is also the month when autumn sets in, so you can enjoy the beautiful changing colours of the leaves on the trees. This is perfect for taking the best pictures and selfies.

During this month there is no heat or humidity in the air and the nights are mild. This makes it much more comfortable to go out and visit temples, parks, shrines and other tourist attractions.

If you travel during this month it is common to see families, young people and children on the streets enjoying the good weather. Many school children take trips to shrines because of the good weather. If you like the culture of Japan, this is the ideal month to travel to Tokyo.

What to pack for a visit to Tokyo in October

Packing your suitcase| ©Marissa Grootes
Packing your suitcase| ©Marissa Grootes

When travelling to Tokyo during October, you should bring clothes that are easy to adapt to the changing weather. I say this because the temperature can vary between 13 and 24°C during the month. Although it is a mostly sunny and dry month, unexpected rain or typhoons may occur. For this reason, I recommend that you wear simple clothes for the heat, but that you always have an easy-to-carry coat with you.

It is also important to wear comfortable shoes that are suitable for walking for long hours. If you decide to participate in a festival or a fashion show, you will probably be walking a lot. Comfortable, not too warm socks can also be a great help. Don't forget your umbrella and sunscreen either.

If you're planning to go to a cosplay festival in October for Halloween, you can pack your costume and make-up in your suitcase. However, in Tokyo you'll find a variety of shops where you can buy everything you need to complete your costume at a competitive price. It's all about enjoying this megalopolis in a fantastic month like October.