In Japan, you’re not likely to get the same traditional Halloween experience you grew up with in America. Sure, there’s dressing up in costume but the Japanese people take this idea to a whole new level. You may not see people go up to their neighbor’s door to ask for candy (it’d actually be frowned upon), but you will see people flocking the streets of Tokyo for an all night party! For how hard the Japanese celebrate Halloween, it’s surprising that they only started doing so in the last ten years. Here are some of the craziest things that have come of it.
Halloween In Japan Was Influenced By American Pop Culture
If we had to guess what these women are dressed as, we’d say they’re vampire geishas. They mixed their own culture with elements of Halloween by adding fangs and drawing spider webs on their eyes. Not sure what’s going on with that Spider-Man mask, though.
Japanese Halloween Fact: Halloween wasn’t celebrated in Japan until recently. In 2009, nobody in Japan acknowledged the holiday and it was only celebrated by expats. But through them and by way of American pop culture in recent years, Halloween has become more popular among Japanese young adults.
Japanese Think Halloween Is Cooler Than Cosplay
This is the headquarters of Tomy, a Japanese toy company in Toyko. Employees were encouraged to wear their favorite costumes to work for Halloween in 2015. On the left is someone dressed as a Licca-chan doll and on the right is Pop-Up Pirate.
Japanese Halloween Fact: Japanese young adults have embraced Halloween as an opportunity to dress up in a costume. Japan, after all, is huge on cosplay (costume play). “For many of the young adults here, Halloween is cooler than cosplay,” Dan Smith, executive producer for Fox International Channels Japan told Market Watch in 2014.
Trick Or Treating Isn’t Really A Thing In Japan
Here is an adorable little girl dressed as a baby chicken for a Halloween Parade in Tokyo. Japanese children don’t trick or treat the same way Americans do. Children often participate in Halloween activities organized by their schools or by the city. But you would never actually see Japanese people walking up to their neighbors’ houses asking for candy. Culturally, Japanese people tend to keep to themselves and are very respectful of one another’s privacy.
Japanese Halloween Fact: The Japanese have a term to describe “being an inconvenience to someone else,” which is something they typically want to avoid.
This is obviously child’s play, but Halloween is for the adults in Japan as you’re about to see…
Halloween In Japan Is Mostly For Adults
This looks like the extraterrestrial from the Alien movie franchise. There’s nothing much to see here because he’s obviously just making his way over to the Halloween Parade in Kawasaki, which is south of Tokyo. Because the family-oriented aspects of a traditional Halloween aren’t a huge deal in Japan, it has largely become a holiday primarily celebrated by adults.
Japanese Halloween Fact: Halloween isn’t reserved for the end of the month in Japan. By some accounts, people start getting their party on as early as the first weekend in October! Fridays and Saturdays are booked with numerous adult Halloween parties.
These Pear Pals Are Headed To Shibuya
These guys are apparently doing a “bad” cosplay of the Japanese mascot Funassyi. Funassyi is a pear that serves as the unofficial mascot of Funabashi, Chiba. Looks like these guys had to make it clear who they were portraying by writing Funassyi’s catchphrase on their bodies! They are using the subway on their way to the Halloween celebration in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.
Japanese Halloween Fact: In the mid-’90s, “Halloween train” cars would ghost through Tokyo and Osaka filled with drunken foreigners who dressed up and caused a ruckus, which is why Halloween wasn’t welcome in Japan at first.
Coming up, see just how gory the Japanese can get with their costumes!
Japanese Halloween Costumes Are Ghoulish-Kawaii
These ladies are dressed in traditional Japanese clothing but they are also zombies of some sort. We might even go so far as to speculate that their look was inspired by none other than Jack Skeleton himself! They are clearly ready for the Halloween Parade in Kawasaki, as are the colorfully costumed folks behind them.
Japanese Halloween Fact: According to many sources, popular Halloween costumes among Japanese women are devils, witches, and vampires. However, in Japan it’s very common to mix these ghoulish characters with elements of kawaii, which is a Japanese term for “cute.”
These People Had A Hellish Halloween
These people are presumably dressed as Pinhead, leader of the Cenobites which are extra-dimensional creatures from the 1987 British-American horror flick Hellraiser. This is one costume that obviously didn’t get the kawaii treatment and we must say that these folks did an excellent job of exploring the gory aspects of Halloween.
It’s not surprising that many people in Japan make their Halloween costumes cute, but don’t forget this is the land where they invented cosplay. Even the most dedicated cosplayers know how to go all out for an epic costume.
The epic cosplay costumes only get more crazy and confusing from here!
Would You Run Away From These Zombie Geishas?
These zombie geishas can’t fool us! These ladies did an awesome job of channeling a gory zombie look but we have to admit, it’s still pretty cute! Extra points to the women on the right who wore different colored contacts in each eye for a truly captivating costume. They say eyes are the window to the soul – or soulless, in this case.
Japanese Halloween Fact: In 2013, over 1,000 people donned full zombie costumes for the “Zombie March” on Tokyo Tower, which was an event sponsored by Fox Japan to promote The Walking Dead.
They’ll Put A Spell On You
These are the kinds of ugly witches that people think of when they think of Halloween on a very basic level, so props to these guys for keeping things traditional! These people are pictured headed to the Halloween Parade in Kawasaki back in 2016. Anyone can participate in the Kawasaki parade, you just have to pay a small fee and be high-school age or above. Many people take advantage of this to show off their best costumes to everyone in attendance.
Japanese Halloween Fact: While participating in the parade comes at a price, watching the parade is completely free!
Soon you’ll see a group of costumes that might just make you go bananas!
She Sees Herself As A Simpson
This woman dressed up as a character from The Simpsons for the Kawasaki Halloween Parade in 2015. As many as 2,500 people participate in the actual parade and tickets for it sell out quite fast. This only goes to show how big the Halloween event is in Japan. The biggest reason is perhaps the after-party that takes place following the parade!
Japanese Halloween Fact: In 2015, the parade reached max capacity and even better, more than 100,000 visitors came to Kawasaki just to witness one of Japan’s biggest Halloween events in the entire country.
They Go Bananas For Halloween
A bunch of bananas made their way to the Halloween Parade in Kawasaki. Groups of friends often dress in the same costumes and that’s probably because it makes it easier to spot them if you get lost in the crowd.
Japanese Halloween Fact: Halloween was first embraced in Japan at Tokyo Disneyland in 2000. Afterward, other amusement parks such as Sanrio Puroland and Universal Studios Japan joined in on the fun, inviting guests to dress up and enjoy “spooktacular” events, which is how the holiday got picked up in Japanese culture.
The Costume Parade Reaps Huge Rewards
Halloween Parades are some of the biggest events during autumn in Japan. Everyone flocks to the city center to witness the parade if they’re not participating. It must be an amazing thing to see so many people in costume in one place!
Japanese Halloween Fact: Having to pay to participate in the parade might deter more frugal-minded people, but that small price may reap some huge rewards! In 2016, the prizes for the costume contest at the Kawasaki Halloween Parade included a trip to Italy and ¥100,000. That much Japanese yen amounts to almost $900!
This is how many people show up to the parade, but come nightfall, things get pretty spooky…
We Wouldn’t Want To See This In The Middle Of The Night
These ladies must be dying for some sleep right about now! They dressed up as what looks like zombie girls who’ve been murdered in their sleep. They even brought along their teddy bears for an extra creepy effect.
Japanese Halloween Fact: The Japanese term for cosplay is “Kosupure,” which has become a mainstream aspect of Japanese culture. While Japanese people like to “Kosupure” year-round and at a plethora of events, it is during Halloween in particular that they like to go all out. They combine the accuracy and elaborate nature of Kosupure with the frightening elements of Halloween.
A Vampire Stalks The Streets Of Tokyo
This vampire is pretty convincing! Props to him and his friends for going with traditional Halloween looks for the big celebration in Tokyo. The man behind him is dressed as a samurai of some sort while a dude in the background is wearing the ubiquitous Scream mask. Nothing says ’90s Halloween more than that!
Japanese Halloween Fact: Japan has long had a holiday to commemorate departed spirits. Each summer, Japan celebrates the Obon festival, which is a Buddhist tradition that marks the return of deceased ancestors to earth. Obon festivals take place beginning in July through mid-August.
Masks are also pretty popular in Japan and they have some pretty accurate ones when it comes to politics.
They Love To Light Up The Night On Halloween
These guys were spotted in Tokyo’s Shibuya district during the Halloween festivities. Right after the parades end, the real party starts – just like in America where Halloween doesn’t really start until the sun goes down. There are usually parties at bars and nightclubs throughout Tokyo. Many Japanese love Halloween as a reason to dress up, party, and drink in the streets.
Japanese Halloween Fact: Since Halloween has entered mainstream Japanese pop culture, many brands and businesses have taken notice. In fact, Halloween is one of the most lucrative nights for bar and club owners in cities like Tokyo.
They Like To Dress As Their Leaders Too
Like Bush, Obama, and Trump masks in America, Japan also has masks of their country’s leaders. Here are some guys dressed as a relaxed version of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, Abe is the 57th Japanese Prime Minister and the third-longest serving Prime Minister since WWII.
Japanese Halloween Fact: The Japan Anniversary Association, which tracks and registers nationally celebrated holidays, estimated that Halloween spending among Japanese citizens reached ¥135 billion in 2016, which in U.S. dollars equates to around $1.2 billion! This money was spent on everything from shopping to Halloween-themed dining.
Soon you’ll see another pretty accurate mask related to Harry Potter!
Stay Cautious In The Busy Streets
Here’s one way to stand out in a crowd! These guys are cautioning you to “Keep Out.” From what exactly? We may never know for sure. Perhaps they’re warning you to keep away from the dark abyss of their souls, or maybe they’re just pretending to be mummies but they couldn’t find white rolls of paper!
Japanese Halloween Fact: Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are a popular Halloween decoration and you will see them all over the place in Japan. Some people even carve pumpkins there, even if regular orange pumpkins are expensive and hard to come by in Japan.
Dobby Used His Freedom To Go To Japan
When Dobby became a free elf, one can only imagine all the things he wanted to do. Unfortunately he stuck around Hogwarts and eventually was murdered by Bellatrix Lestrange. We can only speculate that in his afterlife Dobby regenerated and went straight to the Halloween celebration in Shibuya! After all, he’d fit right in with everyone in costume.
Japan Halloween Fact: Researchers guess that social media and the growth of social networks is what helped popularize Halloween in Japan. This probably explains why it became a huge event in recent years.
It’s-a Us! At The Halloween Parade!
These folks are talking a selfie – or rather, a “groupie” – of themselves dressed as Super Mario characters. We spy Mario, Luigi, Waluigi, and Wario in the mix! While a lot of the friend groups we’ve seen dressed in the same costume, these guys (despite some wearing the same costume) had the excellent idea to dress as a group that includes multiple characters.
Japanese Halloween Fact: Many Japanese brands have taken to Halloween and found a way to make the most of it. They’re already big on candy, but once autumn rolls around you’ll start seeing the sugary sweets in orange, purple, black, and green.
Just Horsing And Monkeying Around
These horse and monkey masks are pretty much universal costumes. These guys showed up to the Tokyo parade, which already seemed like a jungle. At least these guys look like they know how to party and strangely enough those masks look almost too natural on them. Thankfully we know that they’re just masks!
Japanese Halloween Fact: If you do find yourself in Japan around this time and you come face-to-face with a purple treat, don’t be too scared. It’s actually completely natural and made from a purple sweet potato called taro. These purple sweet potatoes, or yams, are popular in many Asian cultures.