Celebrating Halloween in Japan
Halloween is a celebration with roots in Celtic harvest festivals and celebrated to some degree in several Western countries, and especially popular in North America. It might then surprise some that Halloween has become very popular in Japan as of late.
Halloween wasn’t celebrated in Japan at all until just a few years ago, it was something Japanese people would only see in movies. Everything changed in the year 2000, when Disneyland held its first Halloween event. Disneyland is a huge trend setter in Japan, and Halloween has been growing in popularity ever since that year. People will often go to Disneyland around Halloween and wear their favorite Disney character’s costume. It is in the last few years, however, when it has been really gaining traction outside of the theme park, and it is now very common to see Halloween decoration everywhere in October: cafes, restaurants, shops and even homes. After all, Japanese people tend to really enjoy celebrating yearly events, and Halloween is one more to add to the list.
Despite all of this, the way Halloween is celebrated in Japan is not all that similar to how it’s celebrated elsewhere. There is not treat-or-tricking or jack-o’-lanterns (not real ones at least, you might see some made out of plastic) and everything is more of a cute kind of spooky, rather than outright scary. On the other hand, there are Halloween sweets and drinks everywhere for you to enjoy, consisting of things like pumpkin cookies or tea.
The custom of wearing a costume on Halloween made it to Japan, though in a bit of a different form. This has merged with the Japanese custom of “cosplay”, or dressing as popular characters. So, while some people do go for more scary-looking costumes, most people dress as anime characters or wear cute or sexy costumes. And yes, sexy costumer are popular because it is mostly young adults that wear costumes. If you go to Shibuya on Halloween, be prepared to be greeted by a horde of people in their 20s and 30s in a costume, drinking and partying. If you decided to celebrate Halloween in Japan, this is the go-to place. Enjoy the spectacle of seeing thousands of costumes and have a great time!
Hi, I’m Sergio.
I’m from Spain, lived in the UK for seven years and came to Japan in 2012.
I majored in journalism in London and have been teaching English in Tokyo.
I like traveling, cycling, photography, movies, and spending time with friends.
I wrote articles about life in Japan as a foreigner and anything that I might find interesting.
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