Nightmare on the Dotonbori: Top Halloween Spots in Kansai
By Liam Carrigan
On October 27, 2017
Vampires, werewolves and the occasional zombie lurch into the streets as everyone kicks into party mode for Halloween. While Tokyo is most well known for its crazy night of cosplay on the streets of Shibuya, Roppongi and at a host of other events, the Kansai region can really hold its own when it comes to groovy ghoulies.
Each year, thousands descend upon Osaka’s Sankaku Koen (Triangle Park) on the last Saturday before Halloween (Oct. 28 this year), to soak up the atmosphere, marvel at the creative costumes and just enjoy the general weirdness of the whole thing. While Triangle Park may be the focal point of Kansai’s Halloween festivities, there are a number of venues in the area holding exciting events of their own.
From theme parks to drinking in a park, here’s some of the top spooky shenanigans going on this Halloween in Kansai.
Universal Studios Japan Halloween Horror Night
From now until Nov. 5, Universal Studios Japan is offering the latest incarnation of their famous “Halloween Horror Night.” Among the attractions, you can enjoy being chased across the park by a hoard of zombies (if that’s your kind of thing!) or even have a run in with some undead pirates.
For fans of horror looking for something a bit scarier however, there are new attractions featuring some of Hollywood’s most infamous horror heroes. Dare you venture into the dream realm to challenge Freddie Krueger, of Nightmare on Elm Street fame? Or how about a trip to the hospital with everyone’s favorite psychopathic sentient doll, Chucky?
Perhaps the most horrifying of all though, is The Devil’s Manor, inspired by the movie consistently ranked amongst the scariest of all time, The Exorcist.
Long running attractions will also, for a limited time, get something of a Halloween twist. Japan’s favorite well-dwelling undead, Sadako is teaming up with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator to make the Terminator 2 attraction an altogether scarier experience. Surprises galore are in store for you if you visit USJ this Halloween.
Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Halloween Night Zoo at Tennoji Zoo
OK, don’t get too excited, you’re not going to see any Resident Evil-style zombie dogs here or things of that nature. Nonetheless, Tennoji Zoo’s annual Halloween Night Zoo is a great night out for all the family. The zoo takes on a whole new dynamic at night with the focus shifting to the zoo’s many nocturnal creatures.
The night zoo will be held this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. This is a kid-friendly event, but since this is a Halloween event, you never know, there just might be the odd spooky surprise or two in store for you at the zoo.
Hours: 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Entrance Fee: ¥500 adults, ¥200 children
Umeda Halloween Costume Party at Owl
Owl, a popular nightclub and entertainment venue, is hosting their annual Halloween Costume Party from Friday until Tuesday, Oct. 31. On all four evenings there will be various food and drink promotions, live music and performances, too. The highlight of the whole weekend, however, is the costume contest, with big prizes in store for whoever has the best outfit.
The venue has a capacity of 1,000 and tickets often sell out quickly, so prior booking is highly advisable.
Entrance Fee: Free from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. From 9 p.m.: Ladies ¥2,500, men ¥3,500
Hours: 7 p.m.-5 a.m.
Halloween 2017 at Giraffe and Bambi
Over in Shinsaibashi, just a stone’s throw away from the madness of Triangle Park, the popular nightclubs Giraffe and Bambi will also be hosting their own Halloween Party events.Photo by nAok0
For clubbers in Osaka, it is worth noting that the high point of the Halloween Party season isn’t usually Halloween itself. Instead, most people tend to do their thing on the Saturday before Halloween, which in this case is Oct. 28.
Entrance fee: Ladies are free. Men before 9 p.m.: ¥1,500; Men after 9 p.m.: ¥2,500
Hours: 7 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Halloween Street Festival at Sankaku Koen, Amemura
As I said earlier, there are events taking place all across Osaka this Halloween, but Sankaku Koen, as always, remains the focal point. On the last Saturday before Halloween, thousands of cosplayers, some professional and some most definitely not, gather to drink, dance and marvel at each other’s costumes.
People will begin gathering in the square around 7 p.m. with things really kicking into high gear from around 9 p.m. onwards. I’ve been attending the festival for four years now, and as it gets bigger it also gets weirder.
I’ll never forget the first time I went. I was dressed as Batman, sharing a beer with The Joker, as Mario and Spiderman practiced their breakdancing in the background, while a sheepish looking Snow White and her companion for the evening, some character from Final Fantasy (I think) asked me if they could have their picture taken with Batman.
It’s colorful, it’s creative, it’s downright bizarre — but that’s why we all love Halloween in Osaka.
Entrance Fee: Free (bring your own drinks.)
Bonus: Tokyo Events
For a complete guide for the Tokyo area’s Halloween events, please see GaijinPot’s sister publication Savvy Tokyo: 2017’s Best Tokyo Halloween Events.
Got a favorite Halloween spot in Japan? Let us know in the comments below!