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November 10, 2012 - Tokyo Design Festa vol.36 at Odaiba

Tokyo Design Festa, a bi-annual arts and crafts show held at Tokyo Odaiba Big Sight, just finished its 36th event this past weekend. Festa-goers were treated to thousands of booths of artwork, clothing items, crafts and sundries, as well as two live stages of music and dance performances, a world food area, and even various workshops. For a look into Tokyo's creative side, look no further than this!

Every year in May and November, a giant art event called Design Festa is held at Tokyo Odaiba's Big Sight, a giant convention center on the man-made island of Odaiba. It features everything creative under the sun, from photography and artwork of all shapes, sizes, and textures, to clothing, live-painting booths, demonstrations, live music and dances on two different stages, a dimmed-lighting area, a food area, and even this year workshops were added. Here you can find something for everyone, and view Japan's many sub-cultures at their dressed-up best, of course!

The easiest way to get to Odaiba is to ride the Yamanote line to Shimbashi, get off and head outside the station (follow the signs!), and walk to the Yurikamome Line's Shimbashi station across the street. Yurikamome now takes Suica and Pasmo cards, but our Rinkai Free Kippu (weekend all-you-can-ride pass) did not cover the area.

For Tokyo Big Sight, you will get off at Kokusai-Tenjijou-Seimon, a mouthful of a station name, and from there it is a short walk to the venue.

Tokyo Big Sight is a massive complex that usually holds more than one convention at once during the weekends. Luckily Design Festa is held close to the entrance, otherwise it is a long walk just to get there!

I wanted to check out the Winter Sports Festa also being held, but as usual after seeing all of Design Festa, my feet hurt and all I wanted was a nap. Maybe next year!

There are several different areas, and this year the layout was somewhat changed. Downstairs in the middle was one stage area, upstairs is another. Also upstairs is the food area, and surrounding the entire complex are thousands of booths of various goods and artwork styles.

From traditional art styles to clothing goods to performances, it is difficult to see all that Design Festa has to offer in less than 3 hours, and that is at a quick pace. Be prepared to spend most of the day to see everything!

Also, because each booth is a different artist, no credit cards are accepted, so if you want to buy, be sure to bring plenty of cash. Prices on goods differ greatly from common 100yen postcards of artwork to very expensive large canvases of art. Total plus ticket and food, I probably spent around 20000 yen. There is a Family Mart ATM right outside the venue if extra cash is needed!

This year it seemed as though there were less food booths and tables for eating set up. The lines also got pretty long around and after lunch, as well as lines for bathrooms, so plan ahead of time especially if you are in a bigger group of people! It is also easy to loose your friends among the maze of booths.

This year they had various workshops in a section as well, and this is the first time I've seen them. You could make different artwork, paper mache stuff, the colorful thingamabobs above, and they even had a makeup booth where they were creating scars and wounds on people!

Tokyo Design Festa is held twice a year in November and May. The next dates are May 18th and 19th, 2013. Tickets can be bought as a One Day or Two Day pass either in advance (with a small discount) or at the door (the One Day is 1000 yen). You are able to come and go with a stamp on your hand if you want to leave and come back.

Also, anyone is able to rent a booth to sell or show their artwork, or to give a performance on stage. If you are interested in doing that, please follow the Design Festa News Blog (it is in English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean) here: They will let you know when applications are open. You can also check out many blog posts and videos about this past Design Festa as well on that site.

Finally, if you are unable to make Design Festa itself, there is also a permanent Design Festa Gallery in Harajuku. You can check out more information for that here:

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List of Posts:
2016/04/24 - Mitsuhiko Imamori Paper Cut Works Exhibit in Takasaki
2015/11/19 - Shiobara Onsen, Tochigi
2015/08/30 - Southern Kyushu: Miyazaki City
2015/08/30 - Southern Kyushu: Nichinan Coast and Cape Toi
2015/08/30 - Southern Kyushu: Takachiho, Miyazaki
2015/08/27 - Southern Kyushu: Kumamoto Castle
2015/08/25 - Southern Kyushu: Ibusuki and Kirishima
2015/08/24 - Southern Kyushu: Kagoshima City, Kagoshima
2015/08/03 - Tambara Lavender Park
2015/07/13 - Event: Eco Edo Nihonbashi Art Aquarium
2015/05/01 - Kanna-machi Koi-no-Bori Festival
2015/05/01 - Wisteria Festival in Fujioka
2014/11/15 - Sakurayama Koen: Fall Colors and Winter-blooming Cherry Blossoms
2014/11/15 - Ueno-mura Sky Bridge and Fall Colors
2014/08/22 - Gifu Road Trip Part 1: Gifu City and Gujo Caves
2014/08/22 - Gifu Road Trip Part 2: Gujo City and Shirakawa-go
2014/08/22 - Gifu Road Trip Part 3: Hida Takayama
2014/07/02 - Rainy Season around Tokyo: Hydrangea Flowers
2014/05/27 - Road Trip: Yamadera, Yamagata
2014/05/26 - Road Trip: Yonezawa, Yamagata
2014/05/19 - Roadtrip Fukushima's Ouchijuku
2014/05/16 - Roadtrip: Aizu-Wakamatsu
2014/04/30 - Climbing Gunma's Mt. Myogi
2014/03/09 - Flower Weekend 2: Tokyo Report
2014/03/09 - Flower Weekend 1: Gunma Plums
2013/10/30 - Onioshidashi Koen and Mt. Asama Part 1
2013/10/30 - Onioshidashi Koen and Mt. Asama Part 2
2013/10/30 - Cosmos and Mt. Myogi
2013/10/01 - Fall Flowers: Higanbana
2012/12/01 - Winter Cherry Blossoms at Joumine Kouen
2012/11/18 - Annual Coco Harvest Festival
2012/11/11 - Ueno Cat cafe ''Nekomaru''
2012/11/10 - Tokyo Design Festa vol.36 at Odaiba
2012/11/04 - Utsunomiya, Tochigi Gyoza Festival