Halloween in Japan (Countdown to Halloween)

Happy October everyone. Ok, I’ll be straight with you: I’m writing this in September. Late September but still September. I just got excited and couldn’t wait to dive into the spookmonth posts!

There are two things that I have grown to learn about Halloween. First is that most people who celebrated it, really like Halloween. If it’s not their favourite holiday, it’s way up there. It’s just so fun. Second is that most people do not celebrate it. Or did not until recently. Not because of some moral qualms or anything but Halloween is really a rather local tradition all things considered. It’s just that it’s so big in these parts that it’s easy to forget that.

This said, the holiday has slowly started to infiltrate most parts of the world. It’s a celebration of dressing up any way you want and eating candy, of course other people are going to want in on that. However, as it makes its way across the globe, every country lends it a bit of regional spice.

There was never really one true Halloween. I guess pumpkins and childhood monsters are the closest thing but really if you want to dress up as a sweet princess and turn your house into a pink castle, that’s Halloween too. It’s sort of fast and loose as far as actual standards go which means it’s the perfect holiday to adapt to local preferences.

Halloween is still not that prevalent in Japan. I’ve decided that this is why we don’t get so many anime Halloween episodes. (Putting a top 5 together was a bit of a challenge). But the celebration did make it all the way very to the other side of the world and it’s slowly gaining in popularity. However, it may not be exactly the celebration you know.

Kise. Sheet Ghost

by Kise

From what I gather, Halloween reached mainstream consciousness in Japan a bit less than 20 years ago thanks to that undisputed Herald of monsters and doom: Disney! Disney is very popular in Japan so when Disneyland Japan hosted the first Halloween celebration in the park, people took notice!

A country with such an unabashed love of cosplay was made for a dress up holiday and it seems the Japanese took to it exactly in that sense. The only real Halloween tradition in Japan are the costumes and they can be just about anything. It’s as much a convention masquerade as a trick or treat evening. Mostly cause there’s no trick or treating. Honestly that part was always a little weird when you really think about it. Just buy good candy and keep it, saves everyone the trouble and you don’t end up trying to figure out what to do with all the raisin boxes.

So the it seems the Japanese people dress up then celebrate. How? In the awesomeness way possible because Japan! From what I read one of the hottest spots is trains. As in subways. Public transportation! How cool is that? Trick question it is innumerably cool! Imagine getting your awesome costume on, walking out the door to catch the bus and BAM! Party! No waiting, no cover charge, you are about to make some exquisitely dressed new friends and see the city at the same time!

If for some reason overcrowded confined spaces aren’t your thing, that’s fine, we got you covered there too with a wide variety of Street side events, none of which involve bothering strangers at home during dinner. You could take part in a Zombie crawl for instance or how about a cosplay flash mob? I think a combination of the two might be your best bet. Heck, if you are a traditionalist, there’s even just plain old Street parties you can join to mingle with fellow anime enthusiasts.

I am not a sociable person but this sounds like a blast to me. Just dress up, hop out for a street party, stay 15 minutes to absorb the festive vibes, grab a coffee and go home. Celebration accomplished and you didn’t have to pretend to care about some distant acquaintance’s new one man play or something. Does that sound like a suspiciously specific example? Pure coincidence I swear. All my distant acquaintances have very interesting one man plays!

Of course you can also go back to the place that started it all. No not the Hellsmouth of unspeakable horror. I mean Disney! Honestly I have nothing against Disney at all. I have no idea why I keep picking on it.

I think I read somewhere that Japan loves theme parks. We certainly see them disproportionately often in anime. I think I only see them in horror movies otherwise. Which brings us smoothly back to Halloween!

Ever since that first obviously quite successful event, Disneyland Japan continues it’s yearly Halloween bash where you can celebrate in style. Or if that’s not your thing, most amusement parks put on some type of special celebration for the occasion. Even Sanrio Pitino world has what I assume is fluffy adorable horror to offer!

Did I make you want to buy a plane ticket for the 31st? I know I want one. I you have any Halloween plans this year?

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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20 Responses

  1. shyshahg says:

    What a beautiful cartoons and lessons

  2. zita666479 says:

    I started decorating my house October 1st, Halloween is my favourite celebration

  3. Elisabeth says:

    Oh my goodness I’d be so up for Halloween in Tokyo just to have the experience! I’m in that weird limbo of loving Halloween but not having the social proclivity for throwing or going to big bashes. So I’m just leaving dressing up to my little girl this year. At least I’ve got my trusty Darth Maul t-shirt so I can look like I’ve made some effort 😆

  4. pea15 says:

    Japan sounds fun but,I’ll never travel alone.

  5. foovay says:

    Halloween is far and away my favorite holiday. It’s actually a religious holiday for me, as I am Pagan. But it boils down to costumes, party, a wee bit of ritual, and lots of food. A few years I lived in New Mexico were cool – because then I had Halloween AND Dios De Los Muertos celebrations, that often last until my hubby’s birthday on November 3rd! One small town I lived in, Truth or Consequences (i am not making this up) had the street party thing where everyone paraded up and down Main st. in costume and some of the stores would do special openings and hand out goodies. And now here I am in Las Vegas… the party never ends. My big plan is to join the street party on Fremont Street, where costumes and pop-up entertainments will be on full display. Plus… still in the Southwest… for hubby’s BD we are going to a Dios De Los Muertos Taco Festival. Next year I’ll save up and you and I can go to Tokyo for the street party…

    • Irina says:

      Truth and Consequences!!!! How have I never heard of the place??? How are not all shows set there for the name only. It’s amazing!

      • foovay says:

        It’s quite an interesting little place… We lived there or nearby for a number of years and it was like no place I’ve ever been before. It was fun, and sometimes frustrating, and by the time we left I was ready to go. LOL. It’s way more cool to visit for a bit and then move on – ROFL.

  6. Krystallina says:

    If I can, I probably will dress up. Depends on the weather. I just usually pass out treats but it’s still fun.

  7. Dawnstorm says:

    Halloween didn’t really catch on around here (Austria). I think it’s (a) because the huge dress-up and party festivities are carneval time (from November 11 to just before Ash Wednesday), and so a random dress-up day at the end of October is a little pointless, and (b) Nov 1 – 2 are All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day respectively, and people, especially practising Christians, tend to be more contemplative around that time (and so probably have little patience for trick-or-treaters). There are Halloween parties (All Saints’ Day is a public Holiday, so they won’t have to get up the next evening) and there are horrorfilms on TV, but that’s pretty much it. I think Halloween didn’t catch on because of this bad timing.

    I tend to hide away on party holidays anyway, so it’s a bit of a relief for me personally.

    I remember an episode of Joshiraku (cute girls do rakugo), where they talked about Halloween: “What does ‘trick or treat’ mean?” – “Give me sweets, or I’ll prank you.” – “Isn’t that… mean? Like Blackmail?” – “It’s not very Japanese, is it?” – “Hm… what would be Japanese?” – “Give me sweets and I’ll recite a poem?” – “Give me sweets and I’ll say thank you?”

    Pity the show’s never been made available legally outside of Japan (I thought wrongly – it’s on Hidive!). They go on like this for a while, inventing Japanese versions of Western imports. I think my favourite was kotatsu skiing. The show’s a gem.

  8. SparkNorkx says:

    Correction: The holiday is highly popular in Japan. It’s the Japanese online games (especially Japanese mobile games) that mainly celebrate Halloween compared to anime. Anime doesn’t have it much because their production staff is busy celebrating, can’t fit Halloween theme in average 13 episodes limit or original author didn’t include it. Although, some anime like Granblue Fantasy did a Halloween episode as OVA to make up.

    • Irina says:

      I guess my sources were outdated. That’s what I get for listening to my Japanese friends! I was under the impression that it was still mostly confined to the cities.

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