How to Celebrate Halloween in Japan

Cultural Experiences

Halloween is a yearly celebration on October 31th, when people all over the world dress up in ‘scary’ costumes and enjoy a great time. Japan is no exception to this, Halloween has become a very popular event ever since Disneyland Tokyo organized the first Halloween party in 2000. Nowadays, it is one of the biggest events, celebrated each year on October 31th.

Halloween in Japan is celebrated a little different than in other countries, the costumes and parties play a big part, but there is no trick or treating and many other Halloween traditions are not cared about. In Japan, Halloween is more celebrated among the adults that like to dress up and party. Nevertheless, many stores will offer limited editions of their goods and colourful Halloween decorations. In this article, we will help you understand how you can enjoy Halloween in Japan!

How to spend Halloween in Japan

In Japan, Halloween is more an event that is celebrated for and by the adults that want to dress up in a costumes. October 31 is the main dat for the parties, but you will find that events are being organized throughout September and October. Tokyo, Osaka and Kanagawa are the main cities hosting Halloween events including parties, flash mobs and parades.

Halloween in Japan is spend with family or friends and some people hold a home party and invite their friends. But most people go out and join parties in nightclubs, bars, theme parks or just outside. Dressing up in a special themed costume is one of the main reasons for the party and some people go full on, with not only clothes but also matching accessories. In schools, especially kindergartens or elementary schools, special events are often organized for the children such as drawing pictures associated with Halloween, making a cute costume, or having a party with hand-made treats and ornaments. 

Dick Thomas Johnson from Tokyo, Japan / CC BY

There is a wide range costumes, some people dress up traditionally like a witches and wizards, ghosts or mummies, whereas others wear a costume featuring their favourite manga or anime character. Or any famous characters from TV shows, movies and games, including Minions, Super Mario and Star Wars figures. Some of the Halloween costumes also tend to be more kawaii (cute) instead of scary. Especially in the otaku areas like Akihabara in Tokyo, you will more anime figures instead of monsters. Daiso and Donki (Don Quijote) are two popular stores where people will go shopping for all kinds of Halloween merchandise.

Where to go for the best Halloween parties in Japan?

Tokyo, Osaka and Kanagawa are the main cities hosting Halloween events including parties, flash mobs and parades. In Tokyo, Halloween has been become increasingly popular, especially among young adults who flock to public areas such as Shibuya Crossing to show off their costume. A huge number of people go down to the crossing to join the crowds and the festivities. People take pictures with friends in the most amazing costumes, go partying in nightclubs, or just walk around the area to enjoy the lively atmosphere. People will wear the most amazing costumes featuring popular anime or manga characters, scary monsters or others. Recent years have been quite eventful and TV shows report about the lively chaos. After a truck was turned over in 2018, the Shibuya Crossing has become an alcohol free zone during Halloween, so be sure to keep your alcohol out of sight.

One of Japan’s largest Halloween events in the Kawasaki Halloween Parade. Kawasaki has been hosting the Halloween parade since the late ‘90s and has become hugely popular. The more than 2.500 parade participants draw large crowds of Halloween (over 100.000) partygoers each year. The city of Kawasaki is in a festive mood during the Halloween Parade, the whole month of October Kawasaki is beautifully decorated and organizes events like movie marathons and fairs.

If you enjoy Halloween in different way with your kids or partner, join special events or parades at famous theme parks such as Tokyo Disney Resort or Universal Studio Japan. Tokyo Disney Resort, located in Chiba Prefecture, is the most visited theme park in Japan, and organizes exciting events suitable and enjoyable for all generations. Disney’s Halloween takes place from the mid-September to the end of October and entertains visitors with Halloween-themed parades, shows, and other events. After the sun has set, the Disney’s characters transform into scary versions of themselves and haunt the streets of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. There are also special food and products available that you can get only during the Halloween season. 

Universal Studio Japan (also known as “USJ”) is another popular theme park located in Osaka. If you are looking for a more thrilling experience for adults, this is a great place to go! During the Halloween Horror Nights season, there are a number of events including Zombie de Dance and Street Zombies with terrifying zombies ruling the streets around the huge park. The zombies will chase and scare you! In addition, some popular rides and attractions such as the Space Fantasy the Ride turn into Halloween version!

/期間限定エンターテイメント満載!今秋だけのハロウィーン・イベント9/18~開催!\パークを彩るデコレーションと仮装姿の仲間たちが皆さんをお出迎え✨#三代目JSOULBROTHERS 考案の #ラタタダンス も、新バージョンでユニバーサル・モンスターとコラボ! #USJ※画像はイメージです詳細は→ http://usj.eng.mg/86956

ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン / Universal Studios Japan (USJ)さんの投稿 2020年9月2日水曜日

What to eat at Halloween in Japan

In Japan, pumpkin is considered as food rather than an ornament for Halloween. Also, the Japanese pumpkin is purple coloured instead of orange. The sweet taste of the pumpkins can be used for several kind of dishes including traditional Japanese cuisine and even sweets. You can easily find the Japanese pumpkins at grocery stores for a reasonable price, but if your are looking for an orange version to carve out, expect to pay a higher price.

During the Halloween season, many shops release new products to take on the competitive market. Many people spend more money than usual on buying these special limited edition products to hold a party or have a luxurious meal at home. For shops it is a perfect time to launch some special themed products and you will see attractive Halloween products such as cakes and sweets. Pumpkin tart and pumpkin soup are also popular and are relatively easy to make on your own with simple ingredients!

Halloween events 2020 in Japan

Due to Covid-19 many of the main Halloween events in Japan are adapted or cancelled. Tokyo Disney has cancelled the events and is not allowing anyone in costumes into the park. Shibuya discourages people to come to the popular crossing and is holding an virtual events instead. Check the official event pages for the latest info.

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Halloween is one of the biggest events in autumn in Japan. The party celebrations differ slightly from other (Western) countries and are mostly geared towards (young) adults who like to dress in their favourite character costume. There is a range of special events organised throughout the months of September and October since it was first introduced in Japan in the ’70’s. Especially after Disneyland hosted the first Halloween party in 2000, Halloween has become increasingly popular. In spite of the differences among countries how to celebrate it, Halloween is an enjoyable festival for everyone regardless of age or religion. Even if you don’t want to dress up, watching others in their creative costumes is still fun to do!

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