8 Recommended Ways to Enjoy Halloween in Japan!

8 Recommended Ways to Enjoy Halloween in Japan!

Halloween in Japan is a major commercial event, drawing on some, but not all, of the modern traditions that arose in late 19th Century America. It’s been gaining popularity for as long as I remember but, as you’ll see, we do it rather differently here!



 

8 Recommended Ways to Enjoy Halloween in Japan!

 

1. Forget About Trick or Treat!

No self-respecting Japanese parent would feel comfortable letting their kids roam the streets, disturbing neighbours and coercing treats on a threat of mischief; not wishing to cause a nuisance to others is deeply ingrained in the Japanese psyche! In fact, the only places where one is likely to see Halloween events specifically for kids in Japan is at the many private language schools, or at primary schools, especially those with an American teaching presence.

 

2. Disneyland

For many years, just about the only place in Japan that celebrated Halloween was Disneyland, and it still features extremely popular Halloween-themed decorations, events and parades every October. But all that spectacle did nothing to impart a clear understanding of how Americans celebrate Halloween; rather it fed into an existing, traditional Japanese love of costume, festivals and parades that has made Halloween very much an event for and by young adults.

 

3. Dressing Up

Yes, young Japanese love to dress up, so maybe Disney parades have contributed indirectly to the cosplay trend that Tokyo’s Harajuku district is so well-known for. Certainly, Halloween gives young adults everywhere the chance to switch their usual look for something spookier, if they weren’t spooky to begin with! If you happen to be in Tokyo, check out the Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Festival; just take the East exit from Ikebukuro station. Or in Osaka, Triangle Park is the place to be at Halloween!

 

4. Parades

As for Harajuku’s cosplay set, they’ll all be at the Harajuku Omotesando Halloween Pumpkin Parade, probably the oldest Halloween parade in Japan, and certainly one of the most colourful. Other Halloween parades include Shibuya Fes, where local bars and clubs get in on the act with special events of their own, and Roppongi Hills Halloween Parade with over 3,000 participants. But there are Halloween events in every major city.

 

5. Game Over, Man!

One of the most popular video game franchises of the past twenty or more years was Biohazard (Resident Evil), echoing the popularity of horror films like George A Romero’s seminal classic, Night of the Living Dead. Not surprisingly then, zombies feature heavily in Japan’s Halloween cosplay. Special events like Inage Seaside Park’s 1.5km Zombie Run offer team fun where participants must work together to outrun the zombies chasing them!

 

6. Too Much Gore?

Visitors to Universal Studios in Osaka can participate in a special Halloween event as part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, from mid September to early November. Obviously intended for younger Halloweenies, visitors can experience trick or treat in Hogsmeade village, whose residents will hand out sweets to youngsters. But, as night falls, the village will transform as “moments of darkness” reveal the hooded figures of The Death Eaters! Billed as entertainment “on an overwhelming scale and with meticulous attention to detail,” the event even features unique Halloween food at the Great Hogwort’s Feast!

 

7. Still Too Scary?

For more family oriented Halloween events, Tokyo Skytree Halloween Magic will see many shops in the Solamachi complex selling limited edition Halloween goods and children will be able to dress in costumes. Down in Tokyo Bay, Decks Happy Halloween will be offering illuminations, special themed foods and refreshments, and Odaiba Illusion Dome will be Halloween themed.

 

8. Tidying Up

Halloween in Japan is not without its critics, particularly local residents and businesses who object to the mess left behind after the celebrations and parades. Last year, Tokyo Metropolitan Government enlisted singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu as the special figurehead for the Halloween clean up campaign, providing 300,000 special rubbish sacks for volunteers. It was a great success. I was passing through Shibuya that morning and witnessed various ghouls, vampires and Pokemon characters bagging rubbish or sweeping the streets with brooms (the non-flying variety) which made for an amusing, almost surreal end to Halloween – exactly as it should be!

 

Conclusion

Halloween in Japan isn’t as child-centred as it is in the US, nor as under-stated as in the UK, but it is a unique expression of the vitality, creativity and good naturedness of young Japanese as they take to the streets and parks, many in elaborate costumes, in such huge numbers. For that reason, Halloween is definitely a taste of Japan that foreign visitors should experience if they get the chance.

 

8 Recommended Ways to Enjoy Halloween in Japan!

1. Forget About Trick or Treat!
2. Disneyland
3. Dressing Up
4. Parades
5. Game Over, Man!
6. Too Much Gore?
7. Still Too Scary?
8. Tidying Up