Virtually unknown a decade ago, in the past few years Halloween has become a surprisingly popular event in Japan. Much credit is due to food manufacturers and shopping centers, who have finally recognized the marketability of the holiday (as we all know no holiday can become popular here without goods to sell). Thankfully there’s more to Halloween in Japan than pumpkin cakes and orange lattes, and in Tokyo there are many ways to celebrate the event.
Tokyu Hands is still the best place to buy costumes, but you’ll also find a decent selection at Don Quijote, Loft and Yuzawaya, and 100 yen shops and even local department stores also have simpler costumes and accessories like masks and hats. Online, Rubies Japan, is a good place to check.
Real pumpkins are easier to find than ever. Costco and The Foreign Buyers’ Club have regular full-sized pumpkins, as do some florists and larger supermarkets. Mini pumpkins and an assortment of small colorful squash are easier to find: check flower shops, grocery stores and home/garden centers. One piece of advice: don’t mistake the native kabocha squashes for pumpkins, as they far too hard to carve.
Hello Halloween Pumpkin Parade, Harajuku Omotesando, October 26th: This was the first Halloween parade in Japan when it started 25 years ago, and the event continues to grow in popularity. Aimed at children under 12, there is a costume parade, trick-or-treating, a Halloween Photo museum and parties in Halloween Square. Entering the parade and joining the parties require a fee and pre-registration (already closed for this year) while the other activities are free.
Kawasaki Halloween 2008, Kawasaki Station, October 18th to 26th: The biggest Halloween event in Japan, Kawasaki Halloween has 8 days events, many of them aimed at adults. Grown-up activities include club events and free Halloween movie screenings (three classic silent horror films and The Rocky Horror Picture Show), while the whole family can enjoy the doggie fashion show, trick-or-treating, jack-o-lantern carving, and face painting. The events culminate in the Halloween Parade on Saturday 26th, in which 3000 participants take to the streets in costume. Many of the participants take cosplay to another level with getups far wilder than anything you’ve seen back home, resulting in enormous crowds and international media attention. Entry in the parade is free but requires pre-registration (open until October 20th) and a number of prizes, including a trip to Italy, are given to the best costumes.
Halloween in Tama Center 2008, Tama Centre Station, October 24th to 26th: A large number of family-oriented events including jack-o-lantern carving, costume contests, trick-or-treating, singing and dancing performances, and a flea market and world food market. Each evening around 350 jack-o-lanterns are lit on the stage, creating a spookily beautiful spectacle.
Happy Halloween 2008, Roppongi Hills, October 25th to 31st: The main event is the Halloween Parade on the 25th, with about 200 costumed participants. Entry is free, with on-sight registration. Other events include a children’s costume workshop and trick-or-treating, discounted entry to the Tokyo City View observation deck to those in costume (750 yen for adults, free for children), and a Halloween Photo Garden, the perfect place to take commemorative pictures. Throughout the week the shops of Roppongi Hills will be offering free Halloween candy and balloons to children, with many cafes and restaurants featuring Halloween menus.
Disney Halloween, Tokyo Disneyland, September 12th to October 31st: Visit Disneyland in costume and enjoy Haloween-themed decorations and menu items, with Halloween parades and performances celebrating the classic villains and bad guys of Disney movies.
Ageha in Shinkiba celebrates Halloween on October 31st from 11:00pm with three dance floors featuring hip-hop, R&B, reggae, dancehall and dance classics. Those is full costume get free entry (3500 yen otherwise) and the chance to win a trip for two to New York and 100,000 yen.
Womb in Shibuya hosts the long-running Glitterball party on October 30th from 7:00pm to midnight. Tickets are 2500 yen presale (plus a requested 500 yen charity donation at the venue) and entry includes a goody bag and unlimited food and drink, with a range of costume prizes including a trip for two to Macau.
Alife in Nishi Azabu has nightly Halloween events in the week leading to Halloween, culminating on October 31st at 9:00pm with three floors of music and a costume contest, with 100,000 awarded to the top costume. Entry before 11:00 is 2000 yen for men (including 2 drink tickets) and free for women in costume, after 11:00 men pay 3500 yen and women 2500 yen (each with two drink tickets).
CyberJapan presents Erotica on October 31st at Warehouse702 in Azabu Juban. All star DJs, a fashion show, S&M Queens at the fetish bar Mistress, cosplay dancers and a 300,000 yen prize for best costume promise to make this a memorable event. 3500 yen entry fee waived for those in full costume, doors open at 10:00pm.