The Halloween traditions that Westerners know so well officially came to Japan in 2000, when Disneyland Tokyo held its first-ever Halloween event. Universal Studios in Osaka soon followed, and the Japanese quickly embraced the opportunity to dress up.
While house-to-house trick-or-treating hasn’t made its way over (nor will it anytime soon, due to the Japanese aversion to intruding on one’s neighbors), here are some great ways to celebrate Halloween in Japan.
A proper Halloween celebration wouldn’t be complete without a parade, and Japan is full of them. The Kawasaki Halloween Parade just outside of Tokyo is one of Japan’s most famous, and it has been around since 1997, before Halloween became mainstream. The parade takes place on October 27 this year, and in addition to classic parade floats, there are several things for children and adults to do, like face painting and street dancing. While the parade is free, you can find tickets for spectator seating and other related events here.
Another popular Halloween gathering is the Roppongi Hills Halloween Parade, and this year’s theme is “cinema” (expect to see your favorite movie characters walking the streets). While the parade itself takes place on October 26, it’s part of a month-long celebration in Roppongi Hills where restaurants and shops adorn their windows and menus with spooky decorations and on-theme treats.
If you love cats, the Bakeneko Festival in Tokyo is for you. The parade, which takes place on October 13, combines traditional Halloween with the Japanese folklore of the bakeneko, or “changed cat.” This cat has supernatural powers and fictional features, like a split tail, and parade goers are encouraged to get creative with their cat-stumes. Before and after the parade, enjoy fun themed events like special performances dedicated to the mythical kitty.
Parties in Tokyo and Osaka
In Japan, people rarely throw house parties due to the small size of their homes and apartments. Instead, people take to the streets of larger cities to celebrate their favorite holidays.
Shibuya Halloween is one of Japan’s most well-known Tokyo street parties, and it usually takes place on the evening of October 31. While public drinking is not allowed in the district during this time, people gather to dance in costume until the early hours of the morning (in fact, you’ll probably stand out if you aren’t dressed up).
In the smaller city of Osaka, the Halloween party at Osaka Triangle Park spills out from the bars onto the streets on the Saturday before Halloween. Cosplay (dressing up as your favorite anime or manga character) is a favorite tradition, and the southern parts of the city, Shinsaibashi and Namba, are reliable areas to spot locals in costume.