As the holiday picks up traction, Halloween has become a massive celebration in autumn, calling to bring out our winter coats and brace ourselves for winter illuminations. We’ve seen a soar in costume parades in Tokyo and surrounding cities, themed buffets and even trick or treating has started to be something children are excited to do every Halloween weekend. You should know, however, that it’s not quite what you expect.

The Basics

There are many reasons why traditional trick or treating wouldn’t work in Japan. Many are worried about strangers knowing where they live, it’s hard to find candy in bulk but most importantly, the majority of Tokyoites live in apartment complexes which kind of defeats the purpose of knocking on your neighbors’ doors. To recreate the trick or treating atmosphere, municipalities have started to partner up with local businesses to create a small street where kids in costumes can parade safely. Instead of creating a candy chase, the event takes the form of something they call a “stamp rally.”

Parents can purchase or pickup stamp cards and kids can go door-to-door to find all of the stamps or stickers. The idea behind this is that families can get acquainted with their neighborhoods as well as support local businesses by providing them with more exposure. Once cards are full, you can exchange them for a small prize to take home.

Where to Go

Unfortunately, trick or treating is not as simple as one might think. Some require registration in advance or enforce a “costume code.” Others are open to all and even take place a few times a day.

Kichijoji Halloween Fest

This Halloween celebration takes place on October 29 and 30. This means not too many crowds and a lot more fun. This is one of the only rallies that involve candy and not stamps, so we wanted to introduce it first as tickets are limited.

For tickets, visit the event website.

Futako-Tamagawa Halloween Party

Every year, Futako-Tamaga in Setagaya-ku hosts a costume parade and a stamp rally made with both kids and parents in mind. This year, the festivities will take place on the weekend before Halloween (Oct 26-27). There is also a costume contest for children to show off their outfits.

More events are expected to be added, so keep an eye on the event website.

Roppongi Hills Happy Halloween

Roppongi Hills is hosting various events around the holiday including their own Halloween parade. On October 20, 26 and 27, kids can participate in a small stamp rally around the neighborhood and once complete, they can exchange their cards for a free ice cream cone.

For more information, please refer to the event website.

Shitamachi Halloween

This special celebration that includes the Ueno Station area extends the stamp rally through the entire month of October . The event is collaborating with must-see spots in the neighborhood, including the Ueno Mori Museum – to promote their Vincent Van Gogh exhibition – and are encouraging kids to enter and discover art in exchange for a stamp.

For a full list of participating locations, visit the event website.

Azabu-Juban Halloween Stamp Rally

Taking place only on October 26, this short two-hour rally takes place around the area allowing parents and children to roam the sidewalks and alleys in search of stamps. There are many restaurants along the way, so be sure to stop by and grab a bite.

For more information on this event, please refer to this website.

Many municipalities outside of the city also host stamp rallies. Make sure to check your city’s website to see if there’s one near you!