Candy, costumes, and purple and orange decorations are the hallmarks of Halloween in Japan. Halloween is a fairly recent addition to the Japanese calendar, with the first ever Halloween celebration happening at Tokyo Disneyland in 1997. The response to the celebration went fairly well, and Universal Studios Japan launched their own in 2011. Since then, Halloween has begun to catch on with the general public and street parties in more fashionable districts of Tokyo can be found attended by young people in costumes.
Due to a cultural taboo surrounding bothering neighbors, trick-or-treating is noticeably absent from Japanese Halloween. That doesn’t stop people from enjoying halloween themed candy, however. Special halloween package designs and flavors are manufactured by many popular candy brands, including Pocky, Hi-Chew and Bourbon Cakes. These candies often start their run at the end of August and are enthusiastically purchased through the end of October.
Costume parties are the main way Halloween is celebrated in Japan. Street parties pop up in places like Shibuya and Roppongi where Halloween parades are held. The emphasis on costumes makes the holiday a hit among cosplayers and it is fairly common to see people dressed up in Halloween themed versions of popular anime characters. Another, somewhat unexpected place Halloween parties happen is on trains. A group of expatriates began throwing Halloween parties on trains in the 1990s and the tradition became popular enough that the Japanese transportation authority designates a number of train cars specifically for hosting Halloween parties every year.
Because it is such a recent phenomenon, Halloween is still not celebrated by many Japanese with existing celebrations occurring only in specific areas and among a certain age group (mainly younger adults). That doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had on Halloween in Japan, especially as the scope of festivities continues to grow.