Every year on Halloween, kids in costumes take to the streets to play tricks on friends and collect treats from neighbors. At least that's how October 31st is celebrated in the United States. However, not every country celebrates Halloween in the exact same way.
For example, Japan celebrates Halloween with costumes and fun gatherings with friends. But, their spooky season isn't centered around candy or trick-or-treating like in the US. How else do they celebrate Halloween in Japan?
Does Japan Celebrate Halloween?
Halloween is celebrated in Japan, especially in larger cities like Tokyo and Osaka. However, the holiday may look a bit different from how it is celebrated in the United States. For example, people don't go trick-or-treating, but there are some similar Halloween traditions you might just recognize.
Costumes and Cosplay
If your favorite part of Halloween is dressing up, then you're in luck. People in Japan take dressing up for Halloween very seriously with quirky and elaborate costumes abound. Many people dress up in cosplay as their favorite characters from anime, manga, or video games.
A popular spooky event in Tokyo is the Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Festival. It's a two-day event filled with amazing costumes and live performances that often attract thousands of people.
Street Parties and Parades
One of the main ways Halloween is celebrated in Japan is through street parties and parades. During street parties, many people gather together and march through the streets in their Halloween costumes. The Shibuya district has one of the largest Halloween street parties in Japan, with over a million people joining the festivities each year.
These Halloween street parties and parades are geared towards adults. There's loud music, large crowds, and drinking that goes on during the parades, which means it might not be the best place to celebrate with kiddos.
However, the Roppongi Hills and Kanagawa Prefecture districts offer kid-friendly parades that often take place the day before Halloween. These street parties include a parade, live music, costume contest, and more.
Festive Theme Parks
Another way to celebrate Halloween in Japan is to explore one of their theme parks. Every year, places such as Disneyland Tokyo, Universal Studios Japan, and Sanrio Puroland put on festivities to celebrate the spooky season.
- Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea - If you're looking for some festive Halloween fun that the whole family can enjoy, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea might be for you. The theme parks use some Disney magic with a spooky twist to transform the parks into a fall-filled masterpiece. There are seasonal decorations, parades, and attractions throughout the park. And, during the Halloween season, adults are allowed to dress up as Disney characters at the park, a privilege that is usually reserved for children under the age of 11.
- Universal Studios Japan - Universal Studios Japan gets a makeover during the fall season, with new festive decorations and music played throughout the park. Even the park characters get dressed up in Halloween costumes. And, you can trick-or-treat in the park with staff members to get your fill of candy. If you're looking for more of a fright-filled Halloween, check out that park's Halloween Horror Nights for some especially spooky fun.
- Sanrio Puroland - If you like Hello Kitty and all of her Sanrio friends, then Sanrio Puroland might be for you. The theme park is decorated for the fall, has special live performances throughout the park, and all of your favorite characters are dressed up in costumes for Halloween. There's festive food and merchandise offered only during this time of year.
How to Celebrate Halloween in Japan
If you find yourself in Japan on October 31st, you might be wondering how you can celebrate Halloween. The good thing is that there are many different ways to celebrate. You can attend one of the street parties happening in many different districts throughout Japan. Or, find a new way to celebrate that better suits your family.
Shop for Halloween Costumes
Costumes are a big part of Halloween in Japan, and people of all ages dress up. Check out a store near you and see what kinds of Halloween costumes they have available. You might just be surprised at the wide variety of costumes and their attention to detail. You might even be able to find costumes for anime of video game characters that can be hard to come by in the United States.
Pick up some costumes for yourself or your family members. And, maybe even join a parade in the daytime before certain areas get crowded with adults.
Explore a Theme Park With Family
To find some festive fun for the whole family, explore one of Japan's many theme parks that get into the spooky spirit. You can dress up in costumes, enjoy some rides, and maybe even trick-or-treat in the theme park. Your kiddos will love taking pictures with the characters they love, and you can enjoy the fun of rides and laughs you create with your family. Be sure to book your tickets in advance as a lot of people head these popular theme parks this time of year.
Make Halloween Crafts and Decorations
Although people in Japan like to dress up in costumes during the Halloween season, most people don't decorate their houses. If you really like Halloween decorations, you might feel like you're missing something this season.
However, just because Halloween decorations might be hard to find in Japan, you don't have to let it stop you from your festive fun. Make your own decorations at home. Cut out pumpkins, bats, and candy corns from felt or construction paper and stick them to your walls. Or, string them together and drape them across doorways.
This will give you a chance to get creative with your family, and also bring some of the spooky fun indoors. You can even make your crafting into a decorating contest to see who can make the most unique decorations for your space.
Another way to celebrate Halloween in Japan is to carve a jack-o'-lantern. Pumpkin carving has caught on in Japan as part of the holiday festivities, especially since pumpkins are already harvested in the fall in the country. However, your jack-o'-lantern may look a little different from what you are used to. Pumpkins that are traditionally grown in Japan are green on the outside, instead of orange.
This means that you may have the unique opportunity to carve a green pumpkin this holiday season. You can even work the color green into your pumpkin by making Frankenstein's monster, Hulk, or Shrek-themed pumpkin.
Celebrating Halloween in Japan
There are a lot of Halloween celebrations going on in Japan during the fall. It's a great place to celebrate the holiday if you love costumes, music, and parties. If you're celebrating with kiddos, you might find it best to celebrate Halloween the day before with kid-friendly parades and street parties. Or, opt for an at-home Halloween and dress up, eat candy, and create some mischief with your own family. However you celebrate, you're sure to have a frightfully good time.