Halloween in Japan: You’re in for a treat!

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Personnes costumées pour Halloween au Japon

The spirit of Halloween in Japan is alive and well, but things are done a bit differently than you might expect. The holiday is less about trick or treating and setting up spooky decorations and more about dressing up and the fun that can be had.

What to expect

As with everything, there are differences in the way Halloween in Japan is celebrated to the way that your own country may do it. Particularly if you’re from the US where it’s a very big deal, there are a few bits and pieces that are worth being aware of before you join the party.

For instance, trick or treating doesn’t happen here. While it’s almost certainly one of the safest places to do it, it’s just not a thing. In fact, the concept of not being a bother is so ingrained into the culture that there’s even a term for it, meiwaku o kakeru  (迷惑をかける). So beware, don’t go knocking on any strangers’ doors as you’ll be met with a mix of confusion and concern.

Image of two fake carved Halloween pumpkins on display

Carving pumpkins is also not as big a deal in Japan. They’re not a staple crop and to anyone who hasn’t carved a pumpkin before, it’s understandably, an odd concept. What you might see though are fake pumpkin displays and cute decorations outside shops and in large shopping malls for Halloween in Japan.

This does lead to one of the things that the Japanese do best for Halloween and that’s themed treats! Many cafes and restaurants will go all out to make the most beautiful and delicious Halloween-themed goodies. If you don’t have a sweet tooth then there are still likely to be some delightful dishes on the savoury side.

Places like Starbucks, Dominos Pizza, Burger King, and Godiva take things a little further than the rest with Halloween in Japan exclusive items and food each year, so keep a lookout in the month of October for some spooky sweet treats.

What to do for Halloween in Japan

While it’s true that Halloween in Japan is more focused on the fun side of things and less on tradition, there are still many exciting things to do.

Costume shopping

Even the locals alongside expats and travelers love to dress up and make a night of it. In Don Quijote (a store that sells everything), Daiso, and the local supermarkets, there are plenty of costume options even for children, both traditional and modern that follow the theme of popular films, anime, and characters each year.

Costumes at Don Quijote for Halloween in Japan.

Once you’ve sorted out your costume, you’ll need to pick where to spend the night with your friends having a drink or spending a ghoulish evening with family. Halloween in Japan is like a modern matsuri, a festival celebrating the strange and spooky. Depending on whether you like something a bit calmer or you’re more of a party animal, there’s something for you.

Amusement Parks

If you’re looking for an entire day of fun many of the amusement parks hold events and decorate for Halloween. We always recommend planning and buying tickets in advance for the larger parks because they can become very crowded in the days leading up to Halloween in Japan.

Disneyland & DisneySea

If you prefer things a little more magical and kid friendly, then Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea is the perfect place to be. There are special parades, spooky decorations, and themed tasty treats. it does get busy though, so we would recommend heading there early and making a whole day of it.

Ps. You can dress up for Halloween at Tokyo Disney, just make sure your costumes are Disney themed!

Universal Studios Japan

Similar to the Universal parks in the United States, Universal Studios Japan (USJ) located in Osaka, offers several walk-through horror movie-themed attractions and zombies roam the streets at night during the entire month of October. While staying at night means you’re in for a fright, there are still events throughout the day for kids that include Pokemon, Sanrio, and other loveable characters.

Sanrio Puroland

If attractions and larger rides aren’t your thing, or if you’re looking for a spot to enjoy Halloween in Japan with young children then Sanrio Puroland offers a host of cute activities. From themed food, special photo spots, and character greetings, there’s fun to be had the entire day. Sanrio Puroland is also great on a rainy or cold day because the entire park is indoors!

In the event that you’re short on time and can’t make it to an amusement park but still want to try themed snacks, why not indulge in some ghastly good treats at afternoon tea?

Halloween afternoon tea

While tea time isn’t exclusive to Japan, there are several reasons to reserve Halloween afternoon tea for yourself and a group of friends. Almost all large hotels throughout the country will have Autumn or Halloween-themed tea time, with varying price points and varying tiers of sweets. For anyone traveling outside of Tokyo or Osaka, this might be the best way to sink your fangs into some festive fun.

If you do happen to be in Tokyo on Halloween night, or the weekend before, you may want to enjoy the organized chaos that happens in Shibuya.

Crowds of people walking through Shibuya during Halloween celebrations

Shibuya

Halloween at the Shibuya Scramble Crossing is like no other experience. In years prior, there were thousands and thousands of people out on the streets in a massive range of spectacular costumes, sharing drinks and having fun. However, as of October 2023, the mayor of Shibuya has asked that people not gather in the scramble crossing. Alcohol will not be sold at convenience stores throughout the area starting from October 27th until November 1st in order to discourage large crowds.

While the tradition of partying in the streets of Shibuya until dawn might not be possible anymore, there are several clubs and bars in the area hosting special events, so you can still dress up and enjoy Halloween in a different way.

Once you’ve got your costume and your snacks you’re good to go for your Halloween celebrations in Japan. Just pick your place to party and enjoy the festivities.

For more information about Japanese culture keep following our Go! Go! Nihon blog.

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