Savvy’s Guide To All Events You Can’t Miss In Tokyo This Year

The Top Events Of 2018

By Lucy Dayman
January 7, 2018
Events, Lifestyle

Festivals, concerts, parties and pop up restaurants, here's a guide to all the events happening in or near the capital you've got to add to your social calendar for 2018.

Hard to believe but now 2017 is essentially ancient history and we’re getting to dive straight into 2018. There’s no better way to make the most of 2018 in Japan than getting involved with the sheer abundance of events happening throughout the year.

To help you plan out your social calendar here are some recommended events worth adding to your social Tokyo calendar for the year. Given how much is going on in this non-stop city all year round, this is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a great place to start. Whether you’re a foodie, coffee snob, adventurous mother, history buff, music lover or a fitness fanatic there’s something here for you.


January


Tokyo Furusato Matsuri

Dive into a very cultural 2018 by getting down to Furusato Matsuri at Tokyo Dome for one of the biggest showcases of Japanese festivals in the country. Home to a number of various famous specialties from across Japan both in the world of food, art, culture and everything in-between, this event is a fascinating mixing pot of Japanese culture all located under one roof.   

When: Jan 12-21, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (until 6 p.m. on the 21st) 
Where: Tokyo Dome, 1-3-61 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Café Pop Up Café  

One both the kids and adults can enjoy, the Marronnier Gate in Ginza is set to become home to the world’s very first adorable Very Hungry Caterpillar pop up café. Ridiculously cute, this pop up is based on the iconic picture story book by Eric Carle and features dishes directly inspired by the book.

When: Jan 18-Aug 31
Where: Marronnier Gate Ginza 1, 4F, 2-2-14 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Business hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Tokyo Health Industry Show

To start the New Year on the right foot, there’s probably no better place to be than at the Tokyo Health Industry Show. With both an aging population and a growing interest in health care, the health industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in Japan. Separated into five different sectors including food, equipment, beauty, fitness and natural products there’s something for everyone.

When: Jan 31-Feb 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 
Where: Tokyo Big Sight West Halls 1-4 & Atrium, 3-11-1 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo

Cosme Tokyo

Japan and Korea are arguably the cosmetic capitals of the world, so you know Cosme Tokyo, Japan’s biggest cosmetics exhibition, is going to be huge. Drawing brands and specialists from all over the world, this beauty industry juggernaut is open to consumers and businesses alike, so for the hottest insider tips and world firsts (and a bag full of samples), grab your ticket.

When: Jan 24-26, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Makuhari Messe Event Hall, 2−1 Nakase, Mihama-ku, Chiba, Chiba Prefecture
Price: Free with pre-registration, ¥5,000 on the day

Fleet Foxes Japan Tour 2018

Indie-folk icons Fleet Foxes have visited Japan before and there’s no question that the fan-base here can’t get enough of the Seattle group. After making waves with their massive breakthrough debut self-titled album in 2008, the band released their third LP Crack Up last year to widespread critical acclaim. After a three-year hiatus between 2013 to 2016, the group is as tight live as they’ve ever been.      

When: Jan 18, 7 p.m.  
Where: Zepp DiverCity, 1-1-10 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Price: ¥7,800-¥8,300


February


Setsubun Festival at Zojoji Temple


One of the highlights of the traditional Japanese calendar, Setsubun, aka the “bean throwing festival” at Zojoji Temple is a must-not-miss event. Every year swarms of revelers make their way to the temple to get rained upon by soybeans and wish for good health and fortune. Many people also go to catch a glimpse of the celebrities who are designated as bean-throwers. 

When: Feb 3, From 12 p.m. 
Where: Zojoji Temple, 4-7-35 Shibakoen, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Tokyo Northern Lights Festival 2018

For something a little different, Tokyo Northern Lights Festival is one event worth adding to your international culture calendar. Held at Shibuya’s Eurospace, this is an annual celebration of Nordic cinema and culture. Featuring a carefully curated programme of both cult classics like Lasse Hallström’s 1977 documentary Abba: The Movie, and the new and relatively unknown, it’s not your typical movie night out.

When: Feb 10-16, time varies depending on screening 
Where: Eurospace, 1-5 Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Price: ¥1,500

The xx Live In Tokyo

British, r&b influenced indie/ambient pop trio The xx released their stellar album I See You last year and after touring the world they’re finally making their way to Japan to celebrate. The band will be playing in Osaka before heading to Makuhari Messe for a one-off Tokyo performance. If you’ve seen these guys live before you’ll agree this is one show not to miss.

When: Feb 11, 6 p.m. 
Where: Makuhari Messe Event Hall, 2−1 Nakase, Mihama-ku, Chiba, Chiba Prefecture
Price: ¥9,000


March


Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo

Running both in March and October, Tokyo’s Amazon Fashion Week is the must add calendar event for any self-respecting fashionista. Also held in the other trendy capitals of Paris, Milan, London, and New York, Fashion Week Tokyo is when the world’s most stylish overtake the streets to host a huge array of events and parties that exceed all lavish expectations.

When: March 19-24
Where: Shibuya Hikarie, Omotesando Hills and other places around Tokyo

Anime Japan 2018

This one is for the geeks. Formerly known as the Tokyo International Anime Fair, Anime Japan is the country’s annual tradeshow. From exhibits, to cosplay, to stores, to live broadcasts, it’s one of the biggest anime conventions in the world and Japan’s premiere animation event. There’s also a food park and anime-related workshops on offer. If you’re interested in the world of animation it’d be a crime to miss this one.

When: March 24-25 (public), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 
Where: Tokyo Big Sight East Hall, 3-11-1 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo

Omotesando Women’s Run

If your New Years’ resolution was to get fit, then make this popular event a milestone on your fitness journey. Based in the ultra stylish pocket of Shibuya, the Omotesando Women’s Run has become one of Tokyo’s most popular running events. Held annually, around 5,000 participants get together to enjoy the freedom of running through the Shibuya streets that are usually overrun with cars. If you can’t do the run yourself, it’s worth making your way there just to enjoy the festivities.   

When: March 25, 9 a.m. 
Where: Yoyogi Park Amphitheater Plaza, 2-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Price: ¥5,000 to enter

Katy Perry Witness: The Tour


Pop superstar Katy Perry sure knows how to put on a show. Her Super Bowl performance in 2015 featured mechanical tigers, acrobatics and dancing sharks, which gave birth to a world of viral meme recreations. This March she’s bringing her impressive showmanship to Japan in support of her fifth studio album Witness. Be sure to catch her when she touches down in Tokyo. 

When: March 27-28, 7 p.m.  
Where: Saitama Super Arena, 8 Shintoshin, Chuo-ku, Saitama, Saitama Prefecture
Price: ¥10,000–¥30,000

John Legend Live In Tokyo

Songwriter, musician, actor and soul music god John Legend has set his sights on Tokyo for March this year. Turns out, Legend loves Tokyo so much it’ll be his second visit in less than six months. Just in December last year Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen make their way to Japan’s capital to eat noodles in celebration of Legend’s 39th birthday.

When: March 12-13, 7 p.m. 
Where: EX Theater Roppongi, 1-2-9 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Price: ¥13,000-¥16,000


May


EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival)

April marks the coming of the much-anticipated warmer season here in Japan as it does the arrival of the EDC aka Electric Daisy Carnival, one of the biggest dance music celebrations in the entire world. Born in Las Vegas, EDC is now an international phenomenon and one major event on the Tokyo festival calendar. Featuring the biggest names in EDM, house and dance music, it’s the perfect way to kick off the Japanese music festival season.

When: May 12-13, 12 p.m-9 p.m. 
Where: Zozo Marine Stadium and Makuhari Beach Park, 1 Mihama, Mihama Ward, Chiba, Chiba Prefecture
Price: From ¥24,000

Design Fiesta


Featuring thousands of exhibitors, Design Festa is one of Asia’s biggest design and art shows. Travelling from all over the world, artists and art lovers alike swarm to Tokyo Big Sight to see just what’s making waves in the creative community this year. Originally started in 1994, each incarnation of the event gets bigger and better. Open to artists and art lovers of all walks of life (both professional and amateur) it’s a wonderful celebration of Japan’s love of art and design. 

When: May 12-13
Where: Tokyo Big Sight West Bldg., 3-11-1 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Price: ¥1,000

Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade And Festa

A celebration of the nation’s LGBTIQ+ community, Tokyo Rainbow Pride is open to everyone no matter your gender or nationality. Being a massive celebration of love and acceptance in the beautiful Yoyogi Park, it’s one of the biggest events on the Tokyo social calendar and it’s continuing to grow with every passing year. 

When: May 5-6 (Parade is on the 6th)
Where: Yoyogi Park Event Space, 2-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


June


Short Shorts Film Festival

This is one for the film lovers with the short attention span — or just film lovers in general. The Short Shorts Film Festival is one of Asia’s leading film events for both professionals and amateurs alike, but its no amateur festival. Open to public submissions, the winner of the Short Shorts’ Grand Prix is eligible to receive an Academy Awards nomination. Though if you’re interested in submitting be quick, as applications shut on Jan 31.  

When: June, exact date TBC
Where: Various locations in central Tokyo

International Tokyo Toy Show

One for the children and the grown-up kids, Tokyo Toy Show is Japan’s biggest toy trade exhibition but it’s much more than just collectors. Featuring live performances, cosplay stalls and even its own park, this place is basically Santa’s workshop in Odaiba.  

When: June 9-10 (public), Time: TBA 
Where: Tokyo Big Sight West Hall 1-4, 3-11-1 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo


July


Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival

Literally meaning the “seventh night,” Tanabata, or Star Festival, is one of most famous Japanese summer festivals during which people write wishes on paper straps and hang them on bamboo trees. Though Tanabata festivals are held across Japan in equally stunning festivities, the Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival is known as the largest Tanabata event in the country. This three-day festival is packed with various events, including its famous 1,000-people-parade, beautiful displays, rock-climbing for kids and lots of food and drink stalls. The Shonan Star Mall shopping area nearby also gets decorated for the event with large colorful streamers that cascade from the ceiling, making it an amazing photo spot. Crowded for sure, but definitely worth visiting!

When: Jul 6-8, morning until 9 p.m. 
Where: Around JR Hiratsuka station’s North exit, Kanagawa Prefecture

Sumida River Fireworks Festival

You haven’t experienced Japan if you haven’t seen its famed summer fireworks and — given that you can handle the crowds — the Sumida Fireworks is the most popular festival to experience them in Tokyo. Celebrating over 40 years of history, this festival lights up the Tokyo sky like no other and will surely leave a long-lasting memory in your heart and soul if you watch it live. Be prepared though — the crowds are real!

When: July 28, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. (tentative)
Where: Sumida River, Taito-ku, Tokyo 


August


Summer Sonic

Summer Sonic the mainstream/crossover festival that knows no genre boundaries. Featuring the biggest names in pop, EDM, rock, hip hop, punk and everything in-between, this two-day event is the ideal summer party for music lovers of all walks of life. 2017 featured Babymetal, Calvin Harris and the Foo Fighters just to name a few.

When: Aug 18-19
Where: Zozo Marine Stadium and Makuhari Beach Park, 1 Mihama, Mihama Ward, Chiba, Chiba Prefecture

Koenji Awa Odori Festival


If you haven’t been to Koenji Awaodori Festival you haven’t done a Tokyo matsuri. Taking place over the last weekend of August, the trendy suburb of Koenji is overrun with around 10,000 dancers taking part in traditional Japanese performances, which are witnessed around a million guests. It’s massive, but for good reason. 

When: Aug 25-26
Where: Around Koenji station, Tokyo


October


Tokyo International Film Festival 2018

Clocking in at 31 years this year, the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), is one of the premier film events in the world. The tireless film curators go out of their way to unearth, uncover and deliver the most excellent films from around the world and bring them to Tokyo. Running over 10 days, it’s a celebration of how film brings people together. If you’re a film buff or just someone with a free evening, it’s worth grabbing a ticket to a screening when it’s in town.    

When: Oct 24–Nov, 10 (tentative)
Where: Roppongi Hills, 6-11-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Tokyo Yosakoi Festival

A public dance carnival unlike any other, the Tokyo Yosakoi Festival sees over 100 teams from across the nation come together to showcase their yosakoi prowess. A highly energetic Japanese dance, yosakoi combines traditional Japan with contemporary influences, and it’s addictive to watch. Beginning in 1968, this particular event has been running for 50 years this year so expect big things.

When: Mid October (TBC)
Where: Ikebukuro station West Exit, Tokyo

Halloween in Shibuya


It’s not really a specific event, but if you’re on social media chances are you’ve seen the madness that is Shibuya on Halloween shared in one viral video or another. Swarming to the heart of the city to show off their costumes, parade around and party, Tokyo locals have turned Halloween into a full-on-night of the living dead. Though the videos are great, you really have to be there in the (disembodied) flesh to experience the craziness.

When: Oct 31, evening 
Where: Shibuya Crossing


November


Tokyo Ramen Festival

There’s no better place to eat ramen than in Japan and in November there’s no better place in Japan to eat ramen than at the Tokyo Ramen Festival. Here ramen experts from across the nation and the world gather to celebrate this must loved dish. Entry is free, and you pay by the bowl. If you’re ambitious enough to try it all, then loosen those belt buckles as last year’s event saw 36 different vendors offer their unique take on the dish over the 11 day event.

When: Early November (TBC)
Where: Komazawa Olympic Park, 1-1 Komazawa Park, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Mt Takao Autumn Leaves Festival

When the weather starts to turn a little cooler and the leaves begin to transform in to shades of gold and red it’s time to take the annual pilgrimage to Mt. Takao just outside of Tokyo for the famous koyo (autumn leaves) season. Though it’s open throughout the week, this stunning pocket of Japan truly comes alive on weekends in November when it plays host to seasonal exhibitions and events including taiko drumming, Japanese orchestra performances, yosakoi dancing, and food stalls.

When: Mid–late Nov
Where: Mt Takao, 2205 Takaomachi, Hachioji, Tokyo  


December


Chichibu Yomatsuri

As the year rolls again to the end of the calendar, it’s time to squeeze in one more matsuri before the clock strikes 2019, and there’s no better festival to check out than Chichibu Yomatsuri, one of the nation’s big three hikiyama (float) festivals. Dripping with illuminated lanterns, the stunning and massive floats make their way to and around Chichibu Shrine, located about two hours outside of the city.

When: Dec 2-3
Where: Chichibu Shrine, 1-3 Banbamachi, Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture

World Christmas Festival

KFC, romantic gestures, stunning illuminations, Japan does Christmas a little differently. But hey we’re not complaining, it’s all fun. If you’re a bit of a Christmas addict and can’t get enough of the festive season, then Tokyo has the event for you. The World Christmas Festival runs the last weekend before Christmas and it’s fun for the entire family. Featuring culturally diverse food, music and events in Yoyogi Park it’s a celebration of Christmas in its many wonderfully unique shapes and styles.

When: Dec 22-23
Where: Yoyogi Park, 2-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Did we miss anything? Send your suggestions through the comments below!