What Do You Know About Japanese Halloween?
Surely if you live in the western hemisphere, by the time October starts to roll around, you’re
beginning to think about what costume to put on either yourself or your children. From
overpriced masks to simply putting a pillow sheet over your head, October is the month where
you can let your imagination can run wild. Halloween is truly a time of cosplay, where you can
become anyone or anything you want to be for a night.
And when you think of the world of cosplay, what country pops into your head? Is it America?
Didn’t think so.
In roughly the early 2000’s Japan began to adopt the Western holiday of Halloween, largely
through entertainment giants like Disneyland Japan and Universal Studios Japan. Since the
country’s backbone is built around cosplay, this holiday was adopted very quickly. Through this
adoption, however, many changes from the western style of Halloween were made and are worth
That’s right kids, no candy for you. Unfortunately, this aspect of Halloween was not adopted
when finding its way to Japan. Instead, the event is more like a massive parade, which people
aggregating in places like Shibuya, Harajuku, Kagurazaka, Omotesando, and more.
You’re Putting What on my Fries?
The typical colors most Westerners think about when Halloween comes to mind are orange,
black, and maybe purple to signify witchcraft. This still holds in Japan, but with a slight twist.
Since the fall is the proper season for purple yams, McDonald’s actually takes this a step further
by putting a purple and black sauce on their fries. Not only fries, but many other foods are
purple-yam-themed around this time of the year in Japan.
Yurei: The Japanese Ghost
In the western hemisphere, ghosts range from terrifying and vengeful to friendly, and cute. In
Japan, there are cute ghosts, and then there are Yurei. Yurei are vengeful, karmic spirits that prey
on those who mistreat others. Yurei are never cute and never nice, so they are never marketed on
any Halloween products.
The costume selection in Japan is much greater relative to that in the U.S, largely because
cosplay is valued much higher in the country. As a result, costumes specific to Japanese culture,
such as zombified maid costumes and anime characters are a commonly found theme.