Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Halloween in Tokyo or elsewhere?
September 3, 2009 4:16 PM   Subscribe

US citizen seeks weekend adventure from Seoul to ?? Tokyo? Elsewhere?

I'm going to Seoul on business at the end of October and would like to spend Halloween weekend somewhere interesting before coming back to the states.

I've been thinking Tokyo because a) it's Tokyo, b) the extra stop barely adds anything to the airfare and c) duh, it's Tokyo. But perhaps there's some where else I should consider?

Assuming Tokyo makes sense for a long weekend (Friday to Monday, 10/30 to 11/2) then what part of Tokyo should I stay in? I'm a bit of a hotel snob on a budget. I've found a handful of places on hotels.com that are 4 star for under $200 during that time - is that a good idea?

I'll be traveling alone. I'm a woman of androgynous/queer appearance. Any suggestions for activities, cautions, etc would be great.
posted by FlamingBore to Travel & Transportation around Tokyo, Japan (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I went to Tokyo at that time five years ago. There's not much for Halloween, but Nov 3 is Culture Day, in which there are historical parades and demonstrations, in my experience in Asakusa (the "old part" of Tokyo). There's probably more in other parts of town, but that's where I was staying (Ryokan Shigetsu). I stayed in a nice hotel in Ebisu one night, but the ryokan was 1000% better for my taste and they have some Western-style motel-ish rooms if you don't cotton to tatami.

The only cautions I ever mention are the slightly aggro/scummy sidestreets in Shinjuku and to be aware that the subway ends at 11pm. If you know Japanese it's not much of a problem to take a cab, but I didn't.
posted by rhizome at 5:56 PM on September 3, 2009


and to be aware that the subway ends at 11pm

more like 12 but 11 if you want to be safe.

what part of Tokyo should I stay in

I'd want to be in the Shibuya area. Shinjuku east of the station is the locus of the skeevy entertainment (along with Roppongi of course), and the its west is low-density big buildings and not that great a place compared to Shibuya. Ikebukuro is still a downmarket Shinjuku, and the city is dead on the north side. Everything else has its positives but Hotels.com has the Shibuya Tokyu Inn @ $112 a night and that location is really good. Not entirely sure about the street noise but the one review doesn't mention it. Locating there means you can stay out as late as you want in Shibuya, which is a good thing.

I don't really have any suggestions for activities, other than the Ginza/Hibiya areas are fun to find stuff in, and if you do stay in Shibuya, take the Inokashira line to Kichijoji and wander around its city area to the north of the station and the park that's near the station to the south -- Kichijoji is apparently one of the "hotter" places to reside these days, if yahoo.co.jp is to be believed.
posted by Palamedes at 6:37 PM on September 3, 2009


I always recommend the Shigetsu Ryokan in Asakusa (about 10 minutes from JR Ueno Station) for first-timers to Japan. It's a Japanese ryokan that caters to foreigners, so you get the best of both worlds. It also has a genuine onsen bath on the top floor with a view of the neighbourhood. As well, I've found the mid-tier hotels in other parts of Tokyo to be somewhat cramped and grotty - my wife usually is better at finding halfway decent places.

Ueno is an interesting destination itself, with the National Museum, the National Art Museum, the National Science Museum, etc., and Asakusa is home to the remaining "shitamachi" old town of Tokyo and the Kappabashi Dori plastic food stores.

As for Halloween, there is a tradition of foreigners dressing up and drinking on the Yamanote loop line, but the police have cracked down in recent years.

Still, there should be plenty to do on Halloween in Tokyo. Just consult Tokyo Metropolis for event deets.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:59 PM on September 3, 2009


I'd want to be in the Shibuya area. Shinjuku east of the station is the locus of the skeevy entertainment (along with Roppongi of course), and the its west is low-density big buildings and not that great a place compared to Shibuya.

No, Shibuya's where you want to be if you enjoy a dirty, crowded shopping area with lots of sketchy characters, both foreign and Japanese. To be honest, Shinjuku's about the same, but the sketchiness and most of the crowding is confined to Kabukicho, so you can avoid it. There are also a lot more hotels in west Shinjuku than in Shibuya, but I wouldn't recommend staying there.

If you're not interested in the ryokan experience, there's a nice business hotel in Aoyama, near Omotesando. A 17 square meter room is about 14,000 yen (including breakfast), so it isn't the cheapest, but it's a bargain compared to the more expensive foreign hotels. The Premier Floor is your best bet if you can get a reservation -- they have kitchenettes and washer/dryers in the room.

As for Halloween, there is a tradition of foreigners dressing up and drinking on the Yamanote loop line, but the police have cracked down in recent years.

Yeah, don't do this, no matter how much fun anyone might tell you it is.
posted by armage at 10:56 PM on September 3, 2009


Re Halloween nightlife, if you are actually androgynous/queer and enjoy the company of similar folk, you might like Shinjuku 2-cho (sometimes written out in English as "nicho" or "nichome"), where the gay bars are. I can't vouch for or warn you against any specific places, but it isn't hard to find info on this area in English.
posted by No-sword at 1:35 AM on September 4, 2009


BTW, I just thought I would mention that "shady" in Japan is very different than "shady" in the US. I have stayed in an inexpensive hotel in Kabuki-cho before, and yeah, the neighborhood is not going to be front page material in a promotional brochure for Tokyo. On the way to the hotel from Shinjuku-eki, numerous promoters for prostitutes gave me spiels for their services. But nothing that was too pushy, and nothing that I could not get rid of. I was new to that area, actually, and asked one of the pushers for directions (in Japanese). He cheerfully provided me with the requested information. So this "shadiness" is merely an annoyance, not a threat to your safety. (I'm a guy, and maybe things are different for women, but you are not probably going to get gunned down here.)

In the US, I reserve the word "shady" for places where I have seen guns drawn or had my shoe stolen by random teenagers. And yes, both of those were in the same place. (Chicago, Garfield Red Line station.)
posted by jrockway at 5:12 PM on September 4, 2009


Regarding shinjuku 2-chome, my friends seem to go to Advocates a lot, if you want a particular name to try. The Yamanote line train party is definitely well-known, and definitely sketchy. I remember Shibuya being really dressed up for Halloween, though - special store displays and all.

If you don't see anything that grabs you about Tokyo, or the price doesn't end up working you, you could also consider a weekend of temple hopping in Kyoto. Make sure to disembark the airplane from Kansai (KIX) instead of Narita, then it'd be a one-or-two hour train.
posted by whatzit at 5:42 PM on September 4, 2009


« Older I'm applying for grad school f...   |  I need help tracking down a Ku... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.