October 26, 2023
La Carmina’s Halloween Spots
Tokyo's alt and Goth expert shares her top haunts to check out this Halloween
“I’ve been participating in the Goth subculture since I was a teen,” says La Carmina, “and I dove into Tokyo’s Gothic and alternative club and fashion scene in my early 20s.” The author of four books dedicated to the dark and spooky places and cultures of Tokyo, including “The Little Book of Satanism: A Guide to Satanic History, Culture, and Wisdom,” La Carmina has cataloged Tokyo’s top spookiest spots since she started her La Carmina blog in 2007.
From Gothic Lolita boutiques to vampire and monster theme restaurants, La Carmina shares with Metropolis her favorite spots to spend your Halloween night.
Kinema Club, Uguisidani
Kinema Club, Uguisidani – home to the infamous Department H alternative and fetish party that has taken place every first Saturday of the month since the 1980s. The vintage-style club is teeming with colorful underground characters such as heavily pierced and tattooed girls with split tongues (snake tongues), drag queens in elaborate gowns, temporary body modifications like “bagelheads”(saline forehead inflation), and incredible full-body handmade costumes such as monsters and anime girls complete with giant doll-heads.
Kagaya (Hatanodai, with a new location opening in Sept), is an izakaya home to a head-scratchingly bizarre owner—Mark—who surprises guests with costumed performances. When you order a drink or food, you can also pick a country name from a list. Mark will then burst out in a surprise costume, and do a nonsensical performance that will leave you rolling with laughter.
My friends and I can’t get enough of Kagaya izakaya, and we always bring new ‘victims’ to experience it (we don’t tell them what to expect so that they can be bewildered and delighted). We’ve been fans of Mark’s delicious food and bizarre entertainment for over a decade now—and the concept never gets old. Every single time we visit Kagaya, we end up smiling and laughing with him all evening.
Vampire Cafe, Ginza
This is a vampiric theme restaurant with coffin decor and Dracula waiters. Walk down the glowing blood-splattered hallway, and pull up a chair to a casket-shaped table to enjoy the Baroque music and skull decorations. The menu includes skewered beef, served by waiters in capes and fangs.
Deathmatch in Hell, Shinjuku
A gory horror-themed bar for those with a bloody disposition. The tiny Shinjuku counter only fits a handful of visitors. It’s decorated with horror memorabilia like horned skulls and Chucky dolls. Drink ¥666 cocktails, and watch horror movies on the screen.
Laforet Harajuku Basement Levels
On the lowest levels of the shopping center, you’ll find the most enticing Gothic Lolita Punk alternative clothing stores including Atelier Pierrot, and Alice and the Pirates. Pick up a ruffled Victorian dolly dress, lace parasol, and bonnet at Angelic Pretty or Metamorphose. Or try on intricate custom corsets and a leather gas mask at Abilletage.
Club Science and Club Heist, Shinjuku
Club Science and Club Heist make up a gritty Shinjuku concert venue for Visual Kei and other theatrical rock bands. Nightlife superstar Yukiro Dravarious runs fabulous drag queen events here with her Haus von Schwarz (drag family), as well as witch-themed Goth nights.
The Church, Shibuya
Confess your sins in a Gothic bar that looks like a haunted church. This bizarre theme restaurant is decorated in Christian relics, including an altar and wood pews. Pray in front of a crucifix as you drink blood red wine.
Cambiare, Golden Gai
Located in tiny Golden Gai, this little-known drinking hole is inspired by Dario Argento’s B-horror hit Suspiria. Sit by the stained glass window and drink bloody sangria while watching the cult movie on repeat.
Vanilla Gallery, Ginza
Don’t let the name “Vanilla Gallery” mislead you: this tiny space displays eccentric, boundary-pushing art. This offbeat gallery hosted a group show about body modifications, and a retrospective of Japanese erotica. A bird-woman sculpture called Momo went viral for her frightening appearance.
Closet Child, Ikebukuro
One of the best locations of Closet Child, purveyors of inexpensive secondhand alternative / underground clothing – from Lolita dresses to platform spiked boots and bat-wing backpacks. Shop for coffin necklaces and studded leather jackets, or pick up a cyber-kimono for a rave.
A Day-Glo dance club frequented by subculture club kids in flamboyant, experimental fashion. Tokyo’s club kids love to party here until dawn, and the DJs play everything from 80s hits to J-pop. Ask the drag queen bartender for a glass of absinthe, and watch pole dancers swing around the stage.
Reverie Emporium, Koenji
A Steampunk boutique with reworked antique accessories and other retrofuture oddities. Walk into what looks like a Victorian inventor’s hideout, decorated with deer heads and red damask chairs. Shop for handmade watches, and other modified antiques with complex clockwork gears.