Halloween In Japan Is Unlike Anything You’d Expect

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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.

Down The Rabbithole, Disney-Style

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Tokyo Disneyland has gotten in on the Halloween fun, and as you can expect they go all out for it! Each year now the theme park hosts several days of elaborate Halloween parties, ending on October 31.

These park visitors got all decked out as Disney characters to celebrate. We have Alice in Wonderland as well as the White Rabbit (complete with a comically oversized pocket watch). They look quite convincing as the famous storybook duo!

Why Should Humans Have All The Fun?

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Just like overseas in the United States, Japanese pets get in on the Halloween action too. This kitty dressed like a whimsical witch was entered into a costume contest that took place in Kawasaki, which is in the Kanagawa prefecture.

The competition was fierce – there were at least 30 other animals there in fancy costumes. Hopefully this cat won something, because we don’t think he looks too happy to be a part of the contest. A prize might have made up for it.

We’ll see more pets soon!

Well, Hello Kitty!

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Just like in the U.S., little kids in Japan enjoy getting into the Halloween spirit with costumes and parades. Here we see Hello Kitty, the wildly popular cartoon character, as she marches in a special Halloween parade in the Omotesando district of Tokyo.

Thousands of people participated in the celebration, either marching in the parade themselves or showing support by watching as others paraded. The little girl in the jack o’lantern costume looks slightly wary of the oversized Hello Kitty!

Throw A “Like” His Way, Please

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This guy seems to be a pretty big fan of getting “likes” on the social media network Facebook. He wore this costume for a Halloween parade in Kawasaki, Japan, in 2015. This must have been before Facebook became so plagued with controversy over its privacy policies.

Perhaps he’ll dress as the Twitter bird or the heart-shaped button on Instagram next year. Hey, did you notice the Simpsons character behind him? She sure made the rounds at this parade, as we’ve already seen her!

Pups On Parade

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Some people really enjoy getting their pets in on all the Halloween fun. That seems to be the case here. These humans and their precious pups are all dolled up for the parade.

The strolling pooches are named Noel, Honey, and Poe. They were in the Omotesando district of Tokyo for Halloween a few years ago. Thousands of revelers joined them in dressing up and celebrating the holiday. It certainly appears that they’re enjoying themselves, judging by the smiles on their furry faces.

A Day To Be Festive

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There’s so much going on in this one shot, which gives us a very interesting glimpse into how Halloween is celebrated in Japan. There’s a nurse, an alien, an Alice in Wonderland, and some orange-and-black clad witches, and many more interesting costumes in the background.

This particular event was a Halloween Parade, the 13th annual one held in Kawasaki (just outside Tokyo). More than 100,000 revelers attended and 3,000+ people actually marched in the parade.

Halloween By The Numbers

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This photo is just a small slice of the Tokyo Halloween Parade, and gives an idea of the sheer volume of people that attend every year. Halloween is truly a big deal in Japan these days!

As you can see, the Japanese also love dressing up in costumes. There are demons, witches, teddy bears, and just about anything else you can imagine, all represented here. We just wonder how long it takes to sweep up all the glitter and feathers after the parade is over!

So Colorful

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When this group of friends got together to plan their Halloween costumes, they might have settled on “super colorful” as their group theme. While some are dressed as clowns (right down to the curly wigs and red noses), others are dressed in gowns, veils, and jeweled headdresses.

But they all have “bright colors” in common! This photo was captured in 2015, in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, Japan’s Halloween central. In the background we get a glimpse of a woman dressed as Alice in Wonderland.

Time To Take A Selfie

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You really can’t blame this good-looking group of partyers for wanting to take some photos of themselves. After all, they look great and you can tell that they spent a lot of time putting their costumed looks together! You’ve got to capture a moment like this and share it with all your followers.

We can’t decide which outfit we like the best. The cat is cute, the geisha looks great, and the angel is practically glowing under her wings.

Where’s Waldo? Right Here

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Apparently the “Where’s Waldo” trend is still going strong in Japan. Here’s a large group of revelers decked out like the difficult-to-find book character. And for some reason, there are a few Marios thrown into the mix as well. Why not, since the costumes resemble each other so much with their red and white color schemes?

This photo was taken at Ground Zero of the Halloween celebrations, Tokyo’s Shibuya district. Hundreds of extra police officers patrol the area every October 30 and 31st.

The Wolf Pack

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The Shibuya district is the place to be. These gents chose a simple and effective outfit that the entire crew could wear. Suits aren’t scary, but when you pair them with a wolf head, it gets a bit spooky.

Having more than one wolf escalates the effect, forming a wolf pack. It’s pretty insane how each of them appear to have a unique expression, too! Don’t run into these guys in a dark alley…

It Gets Weirder, The Longer You Look

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Women of Japan get pretty creative when it comes to their face makeup. Typically, in America, ladies want to dress up for the occasion, but they don’t want to sacrifice looking and feeling pretty.

When heading out for the street festivals and Halloween parades in Japan, the women are focused more on creativity and making your mind bend, than wanting to feel beautiful. Take a look at these women’s face makeup. The reconfigured noses resemble something lizard or alien-like.

Some ladies in Japan go for the cute look, too.

Japanese Nurse Unit

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Okay, okay, women in Japan like too look cute on Halloween too. These three ladies donned matching Japanese nurse costumes for the occasion. Together they look like the kind of nurses most guys hope to see if they ever wake up in a hospital bed.

They look like they’re having fun tearing up the night as a trio, each showing off their own personality. This is another photo that was taken in the Shibuya district.

Movie Man

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Technology plays an important role in Japan’s economy, which also means there are more than few people who are techies. This guy was able to create a helmet-face mask that resembles a movie screen projector. Either that or he gutted one and fit it on his head.

Acting as a one-man movie theater, we’d have to say that this costume gets a lot of extra points for its unique idea. He even stands in a ‘I’m a movie theater’ stance. Bravo.

You Are What You Eat

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Have you ever seen someone from Japan wearing a t-shirt with English writing, that doesn’t quite translate? Like an image with a cat, matched with the phrase, “you can do it.” These costumes kind of go along those lines.

We see two ladies in Tokyo, dressed up as Ronald McDonald, of McDonald’s. They dressed the part, head-to-toe. But then they’re carrying happy birthday balloons, and that’s where we get a bit confused. Maybe going to McDonald’s on your birthday is a thing in Japan?

The Creepy Version of The Simpsons

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Here are more American cultural figures found on the streets of Tokyo during Halloween weekend. These four came together to create the cast of The Simpsons television show. You can tell they worked together to make sure they matched as one cohesive group.

They pretty much nailed it with the face masks and the bogus, bugging eyes. It’s exactly what you aim for on Halloween- dress as something recognizable, but throw in a creepy element to capture the Halloween spirit.

The Streets Are A Creepy Place To Be

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While the individual costumes are fun to look at, it’s really the bigger picture that makes you feel like you’re living in a Halloween world. Everyone is in costume, and playing the part to a t. They aren’t breaking character, and they’re posted up everywhere.

Imagine walking the streets of the Shibuya district Halloween night. You see a hooded clown on a bike coming towards you. You walk quicker. You see something out of the corner of your eye, and turn over your shoulder to see a pumpkin faced-man, waving in a suit. You start running….

What Are They Doing?

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Your’e sitting in traffic in Tokyo, maybe just getting off work and heading home for the night. That’s when you see two individuals pop out of their car, and get into an argument in the middle of traffic. That’s when you notice, oh man, it’s Minnie and Mickey Mouse!

What are the odds you’d run into them in Tokyo? It looks like the two of them have some beef. Couple fights are never a pleasant thing to witness.

Just Chillin, You?

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While everyone else is running around Shibuya, showing off their costumes and bumping into strangers, this guy is just straight chillin. He’s waiting for the party to come to him, with an impressive set-up of speakers in the back of his van.

Right now it doesn’t look like he has many takers, but we have full confidence in him that he’ll get the party started in his neck of the district soon enough. Music, costume head… done.

Just Passing Through

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The creepiest part of this capture is that the guy wearing the mask is just walking among the other foot traffic on the streets of Tokyo. No one around him is wearing a costume, and his costume isn’t obvious… until it is.

The super creepy rabbit mask is all you need to scare the living daylight out of anyone who’s walking down the street, looking at their phone. They then look up to see this figure, eyes whited out, casually walking with his hands in his pockets.