Celebrating Halloween in Japan

Cute Girl in Halloween Costume
Copyright Crezalyn Nerona Uratsuji / Getty Images

Halloween wasn't traditionally celebrated in Japan as it is in the United States. But the haunted holiday grew in popularity thanks to events at the Tokyo Disneyland, Sanrio Puroland, and Universal Studios Japan theme parks. Today, many Japanese stores get in the spirit by selling colorful decorations, costumes, and sweets to those wanting to observe the holiday.

Halloween in Japan is mostly geared toward adults who want to dress in costume. Trick-or-treating from house to house isn't particularly popular for Japanese children.

Not Everyone Gets Into the Halloween Spirit

Despite its newfound popularity, not everyone in Japan enjoys Halloween. Some Japanese see Halloween only as an opportunity for foreigners to dress in silly costumes and turn public trains into big parties, thereby disrupting commutes.

Halloween Activities in Japan

If you're in Japan in the fall, there are many fun Halloween events in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kanagawa. Celebrations are often held in shopping malls and theme parks in September and October. Events also include street parties, parades, flash mobs, zombie runs, and costume parties at bars. In the summer, the Japanese enjoy telling ghost stories and visiting haunted attractions.

Theme parks around Japan bring in some of the biggest crowds for Halloween thanks to their many diverse events. Tokyo Disneyland hosts a massive parade with more than 100 floats and performers. Universal Studios Japan also puts on its annual Halloween Horror Nights, which features haunted houses and other scary activities. At Shibuya Hikarie retail complex you'll find the International Costume Contest, and at Sanrio Puroland, an indoor theme park known for its Hello Kitty-themed area, costumed characters will transform into spooky ghosts and goblins at night.

Japanese Cosplay

"Kosupure," which is the Japanese word for cosplay (or costume play), is popular among Japanese youth at Halloween. Costume play in Japan usually means masquerade. People portray anime, movie, or computer game characters by dressing in uniforms, samurai/ninja costumes, and kimonos. Make-up and masks are also used to portray favorite characters. Cosplay is popular not only during Halloween but also at year-round events.