Halloween in Tokyo: How Japan Celebrates this American Holiday

Depending on where you’re from in the world, your fondest childhood memories may be dressing up as spooky ghouls or your favorite superheroes and cartoon characters on Halloween, followed by a round of trick-or-treating and candy-filled weeks in November. Halloween has always been a tradition of the western world, but its popularity spread to Asia relatively recently, mostly thanks to the popularity of western movies and TV shows.   

Just about a decade ago, October 31st comes and goes in Japan without any occasion. There were no special celebrations, and walking around town you might spot a Jack O’ Lantern decoration or two. In just a few years, all that has changed. Today, it isn’t surprising to see decorations go up in shops, restaurants, and even convenience stores as soon as October rolls around. All this leads up to Halloween night, where Tokyo is at its liveliest. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weeknight, when evening falls, all souls come out to play. 

The playground is none other than Shibuya, and there is no place more perfect. At the Scramble Crossing beneath neon lights and moving billboards, people walk the streets in costume, and from the land of cosplay, you can expect to see some really creative and elaborate getups, from your Halloween classics like witches and devils, to public figures and anime characters. 

Unlike in the west, Halloween in Japan is typically an adult’s affair- especially at night. At Shibuya, you won’t be seeing many children walking around trick-or-treating. Instead, the streets are filled with friends and club-goers hopping between bars, going to karaoke, and searching for the hottest party. Don’t be surprised if you see people with cans of alcohol on the streets too, it’s completely legal! 

If you’re looking for a taste of Tokyo’s nightlife at its best, Halloween is definitely one you can’t miss, and if you’ve been working hard at the gym all year, there’s no better time to show it off in costume! But if you’re not fond of crowds or partying, there’s something else you can do too. 

Another favourite place for Tokyoites to celebrate Halloween, is at the Tokyo Disneyland parks. For the month of October only, guests are allowed to dress up as their favourite Disney character at the park so if you ever wanted to live your best princess (or villain) fantasy, here’s your chance. Here, you’ll see families with children all dressed up, and it’s Halloween for everybody. Tokyo Disney Sea will typically be decked out in a Disney Villains’ motif for the season too, so have your camera ready and be sure to catch the exclusive shows and parades. 

Another factor to Disneyland’s popularity during this time is the limited edition Halloween themed merchandise and food items, so if you love the spooky aesthetic and sweet treats, you won’t be disappointed.

For a place that never had its own tradition when it came to Halloween, Japan has adapted incredibly fast, and celebrations only get more elaborate and exciting every year. If anything, Halloween festivities in Japan remind us that Halloween is for everyone. Very few people here can say they had the authentic trick-or-treating experience, but just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you can’t still have all the fun! 

Keep the spirit of Halloween alive whenever and wherever you are, and share some spooks the kawaii way with our Halloween Treat Collection


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