Editor's note: This blog post originally appeared August 28th, 2018 and has since been updated.
Summer isn't even over before the first Halloween related items start popping up in stores in Japan! Throughout September and October most stores will sell limited edition Halloween snacks and Japanese candy, costumes, decorations and more! Halloween is also a very popular theme at Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea - so if you decide to visit Disney in Autumn be prepared for the crowd! The Japanese people who don't celebrate the American holiday at Disneyland can probably be found in Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku or Roppongi dressed up in cute, crazy, and creepy outfits to celebrate with massive Halloween street parties! But how did Halloween become a thing in Japan?
Actually, Halloween is a very recent celebration in Japan. The first time Halloween took place was in 1997 which means this year will be the 23rd time that it will be celebrated! Have you ever checked out Tokyo Disney's past Halloween themed menus ? Inspired by Halloween events at Disney theme parks around the world, they decided to also bring Halloween to Disneyland Tokyo. It was a big hit and that's when all the craziness started!
Spooky Mickey Mouse decorations at Disneyland Tokyo!
Halloween is a popular celebration among children and adults in Japan!
Another famous theme park in Japan, Universal Studios opened its doors in 2011 and immediately embraced the Japanese Halloween craze. One of Universal Studios Japan's most famous Halloween attractions is the zombie flash mob!
The way that Halloween is celebrated in Japan is very different from how it's celebrated in the US. Of course, trick or treating is one of the most popular Halloween traditions around the world. Children dress up in their cutest (or creepiest) outfit and ring their neighbors' doorbells to demand treats. Try Trick or Treating in Japan, though, and you will be disappointed. This is sadly not a way to obtain Japanese candy!
In many ways western traditions don't work (the same way) in Japan because of specific Japanese manners, rules and the way people think in general (have you read this blogpost about Japanese unwritten rules)? Some people argue that the concept of Trick or Treating wouldn't work in Japan because Japanese people don't like bothering other people, especially not strangers. Therefore Halloween in Japan is mostly for the grown ups and it's all about partying and dressing up!
Cosplay: dressing up as your favorite character from an anime, game or movie has been popular in Japan way before Halloween was a thing. This could be one of the reasons why Halloween became so popular, all Japanese have a special day on which they can wear their favorite costume together and have fun partying and drinking, another thing that is very popular among Japanese people.
Have you ever celebrated Halloween in Japan? How do you celebrate Halloween in your country? Let us know in the comments!