Halloween is upon us, and that means pumpkin spice everything and time to figure out what costume to wear on the 31st! Even in Japan, cute pumpkins light up store fronts and ghouls decorate train fronts. However, did you know that about twenty years ago, most people in Japan didn’t really know about Halloween? What changed that, and how has Japan added their own spin to Halloween?
Tokyo Disneyland sparked the initial wave of Halloween fever back in 2000 with their first ever Halloween event. Needless to say, Halloween in Disneyland was a hit and it is now an annual tradition to see the park decked out in Halloween decor and your favorite Disney characters in special costumes. Meanwhile, right next door at Tokyo Disney Sea, the resort attraction, you can watch the special attraction on water, The Villains World, which stars everyone’s favorite villains like Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and Hades from Hercules. Other theme parks followed suit, like Universal Studios Japan, which hosts zombie horror nights where you can run through the streets and be chased by zombies.
Since then, Halloween has grown in popularity and more and more Japanese people are joining in on the festivities! While trick-or-treating isn’t a custom, dressing up for the evening has picked up in recent years. Major cities like Tokyo now hold street events, where people roam the streets in costumes. The biggest and most well known one is the Shibuya Halloween street party. For cat lovers, there is the Bakeneko (“demon cat”) Festival in Kagurazaka in mid-October, where people dress up as cats.
This doesn’t mean that trick-or-treating hasn’t been adopted in its own way in Japan! Stamp rallies are already common in shopping centers, where people go around to different spots to collect stamps, and once they collect all of them they receive a prize. There are a growing number of shopping centers that do this for Halloween, luring in kids (and their parents) to their storefronts where the end prize is candy.