Get your Spook On! Celebrating Halloween in Japan

Chilly autumn nights, the smell of bonfires in the air, pumpkin spiced lattes creeping onto the menu. This can only mean one thing – Halloween is just around the corner! 

Japan has a lengthy history of creepy folklore (and is responsible for some of the scariest horror films ever made…) so it will come as no surprise that celebrating the spirit world is an integral part of Japanese culture. But Halloween is actually a fairly recent addition to Japanese culture compared to the annual three-day Buddhist festival of Obon in August, which has honoured the spirits of deceased relatives for over 500 years. Halloween is a time for the fun side of spooky and celebrated by dressing up, enjoying events, and tucking into cute and creepy-looking food. 

Cat costume by Hideya HAMANO: https://flic.kr/p/hpHWEh

Halloween at Disneyland

Halloween has only been a part of Japanese culture for around 20 years, and that’s mainly thanks to Disneyland Tokyo! Characters, rides and parades were given a Halloween themed makeover as a way of attracting visitors during the autumn season, and other businesses soon followed suit. Halloween is now a commercially lucrative holiday, with companies of all shapes and sizes adopting theming and products, from fast food outlets to energy companies! Halloween celebrations are back at Disneyland Tokyo this year, so head to the Haunted Mansion, watch Mickey & friends aboard a skeleton-operated float at the Halloween Greeting Parade, or grab a special morning pass which allows you to enjoy the park while dressed up in costume.

Tokyo Disneyland Halloween by Ryutaro Koma: https://flic.kr/p/dw8gTW

Fancy Dress…in Tokyo and Beyond

Halloween is the perfect excuse to dress up and throw a street party, and many towns all over Japan hold their own Halloween costume parades. While some people choose to dress up as traditionally scary witches, ghouls, and skeletons, lots of people choose to go down the cute route instead by cosplaying as their favourite characters from anime, Disney films, and video games. 

The largest fancy dress party of them all has to be Tokyo’s annual Halloween Festival in Shibuya; hoards of people flock to the famous Shibuya Scramble crossing in fancy dress to party in the streets until the early hours. Last year the festival was held online due to the pandemic, with virtual performances from popular artists including J-pop sensation Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and idol group BISH. This year the event will once again be celebrated online, but will be a much more immersive experience. Join the AU 5G HalloweenFes 2021 via Japanese social media platform Cluster, or wander the streets of Shibuya as an avatar version of yourself via the Avatarium phone app!

Shibuya Halloween by Hideya HAMANO: https://flic.kr/p/G4ATaZ

Cute & Creepy Food

Japan is the place to be if you’re a fan of character cafes and cute food, and during autumn the food and decor gets a special Halloween twist. Fast food outlets and cafes like Tulleys, Starbucks, Mister Donut and McDonalds offer diners sweet and spooky themed treats, and brands such as KitKat, Haagen Daaz and Krispy Kreme all release limited edition Halloween versions of their products with delicious autumnal flavours like apple pie and pumpkin. If you want your creepy with a side order of sophistication, then why not book a delicious Halloween themed afternoon tea at one of Tokyo’s plush hotels such as The Grand Hyatt, Andaz and Rhiga Royal?

Halloween Dozen by Hideya HAMANO: https://flic.kr/p/gysxd3

If all this talk of food has made you hungry, then why not try making one of our special Halloween recipes and give classic Japanese dishes a Halloween makeover?! Choose from Halloween themed salmon temari sushi, inari sushi, pumpkin gratin, ominous okonomiyaki, spooky chicken karaage mummies, or Japanese rice balls a Halloween makeover?

If you have a sweet tooth, then why not visit our Mochi Bar in Japan Centre Leicester Square and try some of our fang-tastic Halloween mochi donuts?! Pick them up for just £2.99 each until 31 October 2021.

You can enjoy all this and more by shopping in-store at Japan Centre Leicester Square, Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City. Alternatively you can get fresh produce delivered straight to your door by shopping online at the Japan Centre website.

Words by Emily Lovell for Japan Centre

Header image: Tokyo Skytree Halloween by Hideya HAMANO: https://flic.kr/p/gZhv2h