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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogTop 5 Ways Halloween is Different in Japan vs. Overseas

Top 5 Ways Halloween is Different in Japan vs. Overseas

By James
October 04, 2021

Over the past few decades, the popularity of Halloween has exploded across the world. Even Japan has jumped on the bandwagon with more and more companies creating Halloween collections and limited editions items. And with Japan being famous for their amazingly scary horror movies and folktales, Halloween fits right into the culture.

Throughout the month of October, costume shops will pop up across the major cities and shops will put up autumn themed displays with cute jack-o-lanterns and ghosts. Amusement parks, like Disney Sea and Universal Studios Japan, go all out and have pumpkin patches, parades, performances and more, so getting a ticket can get super competitive. But of course, given that Halloween is still relatively new over here, there are bound to be some differences between how it’s celebrated overseas vs in Japan. Read on to learn more about the spooky season – Japan-style!

A Halloween Display at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka

No Halloween Decorations

Ok, this is not 100% true. There are decorations on shops and in schools, but not on private homes. While abroad some people go a bit crazy transforming their front yard into a creepy graveyard, or place a few lit jack-o-lanterns on the steps, here in Japan, decorating the outside of your home is reserved for New Year’s.

There is also the factor that a lot of homes in Japanese cities don’t have front lawns, porches, or even steps sometimes, so there just isn’t much space to get creative with seasonal decorations.

No Trick-or Treating

Japanese children dressed up in costume for Halloween

While Japan in general is a densely populated island, most people either live in apartments or individual houses that are very spread out in the countryside. It’s actually quite rare to have American-style suburban single-family homes. While dressing up and getting candy is becoming more popular in schools, the activity of walking around the neighborhood for trick-or-treating has not yet taken off.

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Halloween House Parties Aren’t a Thing

As most people know, houses and apartments in Japan are typically pretty small so people will usually have parties with their friends at a restaurant. As well, it is part of the culture to always be considerate of others, so a raging house party would not be a good idea.

If people really want an “at-home” atmosphere, you can actually rent party spaces which can include a full kitchen, TV, karaoke machine and more. You bring your own food and drinks and have a great time without worrying about any noise complaints from the neighbors.

Shibuya is the Place to Be Seen

A group of people pose for a selfie in Shibuya, Tokyo

No decorations, no trick-or treating, AND no house parties? Sounds like no fun at all! Not so fast, just because Japanese people don’t celebrate halloween in the typical way seen abroad, doesn’t mean the holiday is ignored. There are actually a few spots around the major cities that have become synonymous with celebrating Halloween night and in Tokyo that place is Shibuya!

Over the years, Shibuya has become THE place for young people to gather in elaborate costumes and simply hang out, or go out dancing at clubs. Japan has pretty relaxed laws about drinking alcohol on the streets and at the end of October it’s still warm enough in Tokyo to spend the evening outside.

Many people spend months preparing their costumes just so they can get a good Instagram photo. It’s also common to see groups of friends wearing matching costumes.

Limited Edition Releases

A rickshaw in Shinjuku, Tokyo decorated for Halloween

Japan loves exclusive items, which include everything from Starbucks lattes that only last two weeks, to seasonal desserts at the convenience stores, to plushie collections. Leading up to Halloween, there are all sorts of festive treats that Japanese people just can’t wait to get their hands on. This year, there were adorable Halloween collections by the Pokemon Center, Sanrio, and San-X.

So there you have it, 5 ways Japanese Halloween is different from overseas. Would you want to celebrate Halloween in Japan? What would you dress up as? Let us know in the comments below!

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