Tofugu’s Halloween Week: Halloween in Japan

While Japan obviously has its own set of holidays and festivals (some weirder than others), it’s adopted a lot of foreign holidays too. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Japan, and Christmas is widely celebrated, even though only a tiny percentage of the population is actually Christian.

But what about Halloween?

How Does Japan Celebrate Halloween?

Tofugu is based out of the US, where Halloween is huge. Halloween is celebrated by children who want free candy, adults who want to get drunk off their asses, and everybody in-between.

Japan didn’t really recognize Halloween for years and years. It’s really only been within the last decade that the Japanese have started to celebrate Halloween and man, it’s taken off.

Halloween in Japan still isn’t like Halloween in the US. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that you can go trick-or-treating in pretty much neighborhood in America, and even if you don’t get any candy, people understand what you’re doing. Not so much in Japan.

But if there’s one thing that the Japanese have gotten right about Halloween, it’s the merchandising. Nowadays, you’ll see everything from seasonal Kit-Kats to doughnuts to Burger King Japan’s pumpkin burger (which actually sounds pretty good). If you want to sell something, just slap a jack-o’-lantern on that bad boy and you’re good to go.

One Japanese company even held a “Halloween Festa” engagement ring sale last year. After all, what’s more romantic than Halloween?

It’s not all commercial, though. In major Japanese cities like Kobe and Tokyo, people (and sometimes pets) dress up in costumes and take part in Halloween parades and walks.

Photo by Buz Carter

Thousands of people march in these parades, everybody from li’l youngsters still clutching their parent’s hands to older people who just want to dress up in costume.

Halloween Week

We figured since Halloween is more relevant in Japan than ever, it’d be fun to have a whole week of Halloween posts!

So in the week leading up to Halloween, we’ll have posts hungry ghosts, horror manga, and an interview with a couple who knows all about Japanese ghosts and ghouls.

If you want to keep track of our Halloween posts from this year, last year, and every spooky and supernatural post in-between, just check out the “scary” tag!

  • http://zoomingjapan.com/ zoomingjapan

    I had one of those Mr. Donuts Halloween thingies earlier this week.
    They were ok. KitKat also has its yearly special thing out.

    I’m German and when I was a kid we didn’t celebrate Halloween, but it seems kids nowadays do.
    Well, we do have similar things as it has all the same origin as far as I know.

    For me the Haloween week starts from tomorrow. Need to dress up at work, too! ^-^;; …
    Japanese kids in costumes are soooo adorable, though!

  • FoxiBiri

    I was in yoyogi park on halloween last year when I saw a large group of people walking their dressed up dogs around xD
    One was buzz lightyear, one was woody, and then there were ghosts and pumpkins and other generic halloween costumes. It was great ^^

  • Mescale

    Once I was in my room all alone, working hard at my Japanese learning, and then… I felt a cold chill run down my back, the lights flickered then went out. Through the open window a slice of moonlight illuminated a strange ghostly figure lying on my bed.

    Turns out it was just my body pillow, and I had probably ate too much cheese.

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    “Japan didn’t really recognize Halloween for years and years.”

    That’s ’cause it was wearing a costume. Eh? Eh?

    …Yeah, I’ll just see myself out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AveryGoodgame Nick Hattan

    Halloween is kind of redundant in Japan. I mean seriously, if I could go out cosplaying any day of the year and not be hunted by a bunch of red necks, who needs Oct. 31?

  • Lily Queen

    I gotta say, Japanese Halloween merchandising is better than in the US. I saw the ads for “31″ (Baskin Robbins) special items in Japan and then went to look at my local one’s special items. REALLY? Why are the Japanese items better? Okay, more demanding customers. I still feel cheated, though.

  • Lily Queen

    Also, this post is missing any reference to all the nightclub events! Looking forward to the upcoming posts though.

  • http://profiles.google.com/shahiirosan shahiir mizune

    Put some bakemono content later.

  • DAVIDPD

    Little Japanese Jack Sparrow melted my hairy, frozen heart.

  • Reptic

    I’m one of those people who basically stopped celebrating Halloween once I grew out of trick-or-treating. I still kind of like the theme of it all, and I sometimes watch Halloween related stuff on TV, but for the most part I don’t really do anything special on that day.

    Therefore, I have to say I’m disappointed to hear Japan doesn’t trick-or-treat. After all, for me Halloween was trick-or-treating, so without it the holiday kind of seems empty, sort of like Christmas without presents (yea, I know I sound superficial).

    Well, at least it’s nice to know that Japan is finally learning to appreciate this holiday. Now we just have to wait for them to adopt Thanksgiving and 4th of July ;)

  • Paladin341

    still doesn’t explain the lights flickering!

  • Vivian Morelli

    They’ll milk every holiday! Krispy Kreme has a special “Skreme” doughnut I’m actually dying to try, but I have to do it secretly… haha.
    http://www.vivianlostinseoul.blogspot.jp/

  • Lizzy

    I just came back from a wonderful trip to japan. I had one of those jack-o-lantern doughnuts from Mr Donut, they were awesome!

  • http://twitter.com/PinkStarhime シドニー

    I’ll be celebrating my 3rd wedding anniversary this year on Halloween, so it can totally be romantic! And saturday is my birthday, Halloween is the best holiday EVER. We always forgo everything else (birthday and anniversary) and just celebrate halloween to it’s fullest and beyond. I’m glad I live in the US for this holiday, that’s for sure. :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Greenwald/1818084312 Scott Greenwald

    Have you set up your Halloween tree yet?
    Literally, a fake christmas tree with Halloween decorations. This is inside the local Italian restaurant near my place in Ibaraki. Now that deserves an A for Effort.

  • Raul

    I laughed.

  • Mitch B.

    Nosferatu! *wags finger*

  • http://twitter.com/pob808 Simon France

    Love it. It’s getting bigger in the UK too. Not quite US scale just yet..