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Halloween in Japan

Halloween is, surprisingly, widely celebrated in Japan.  Despite not being a traditional Japanese holiday it has been broadly accepted and celebrated.  In addition to not being a Japanese holiday it is, also, a fairly new celebration for the country.  The first Halloween in Japan took place in 2000 at Disneyland Tokyo.  Since then, the holiday has skyrocketed in popularity. However, despite holding the same name, Halloween in Japan is not the same thing as Halloween in other countries such as the United States.  In the United States it is a holiday that ushers in “spooky season” with scary movies, ghosts, fun decorations, candy, and most importantly trick-or-treating.  It is a holiday for both children and adults.  In Japan, this is not the case.  The Japanese version of Halloween focuses less on candy and spooky-ness and more on the costumes.  

Cosplay and other activities which involve dressing up as a favorite character have long been popular in Japan.  But Halloween is special.  In Japan Halloween is a holiday for the adults and primarily focuses on crazy costumes and wild parties.  There is no trick-or-treating in Japanese Halloween but they do have parties in the street and on trains!  In the late 90s and early 2000s a group of expats living in Japan began to throw Halloween parties on trains.  What began as a small fringe movement has become a trend all on its own.  Nowadays the train parties are better organized and don’t leave bundles of trash behind.  Now, you even have to register online to get in.  Similarly, street parties are extremely common during Halloween.

Halloween in Japan I J-Life International

While the Japanese did not embrace the trick-or-treat tradition, they have fully taken up the art of the jack-o-lantern.  It is not uncommon to see carved pumpkins all over the big cities in Japan.  Additionally, special Halloween treats are extremely popular in Japan.  Throughout September and October shops will sell limited edition snacks, decorations, and more in honor of the holiday.  

Moreover, the Japanese do not place a heavy emphasis on the scare factor of Halloween.  In the United States Halloween is believed to be a day where the dead cross over and visit us from beyond, but this aspect is not celebrated in Japan.  While the Japanese are traditionally superstitious they have their own festival called Obon, which typically takes place in August.  Obon is the Buddhist festival that honors the dead.  During this time is when it is common to see scary movies and other spook-tacular events. 

Halloween in Japan I J-Life International

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