Halloween – harouin ハロウィーン

By: Rora

Nov 01 2010

Category: Japan


Focal Length:6mm
Shutter:1/0 sec

Ten years ago, Halloween did not exist in Japan. Which surprises me- after all, this place is generally described as “crazy” and “wacky” and Halloween makes perfect sense with that. My favorite holiday, it turns out, is mostly a Western phenomenon.

Luckily, I work at an English immersion school that goes out of its way to celebrate Halloween.

Even luckier- Halloween has crept its way into all sorts of places in Japan. I’m not sure how it got here, or who to thank other than to give a general nod to globalization, but I am so glad we get Halloween in a surprisingly similar state as it’s American forefather. You can find pumpkin decorations in most stores and even the occasional udon shop. Grocery stores have a small section of Halloween decorations and plastic pumpkin buckets and TREATS. “Treats” may be a little misleading of a term, since most of it is way healthier than Reeses PB cups (and in a way, it isn’t really Halloween unless there are PB cups) but it’s still junk food by Japanese standards so it counts.

At my school, Halloween is a BIG DEAL. It’s the only holiday party held at the school. The children’s parents are invited. We go trick or treating. It’s the only event of where we cover every inch of the walls with decorations and black plastic, even the windows. We’ve been staying at school late all week to decorate because there is no spare time during the day. The decorations are detailed and it’s exhausting but in the end it looked amazing.


Everybody had amazing costumes. I wish I could share actual pictures, but, you know, laws and morality and all. My favorite part about Halloween is seeing the way a someone’s costume enhance or reflect some aspect of their personality. It’s amusing with adults, but it’s even better with little kids. Like the cute giggly boy who shows up as the cowboy from Toy Story and it’s just SO PERFECT. Not that all costumes have to be a nod to one’s personality. One kid went as a satellite- his mom made the costume out of paper towel rolls and tin foil- which probably wasn’t supposed to be a metaphor for much of anything but it still fit his personality. Many kids dressed up as popular Japanese anime/videogame/cartoon characters, which I am slowly but surely becoming familiar with (luckily I got a head start with Nintendo and Pokemon, the big weight exports that they are).

All in all it was a great party, but ended up being almost as exhausting as the year I worked at a Halloween costume / used clothing megastore in a college town. Luckily the Japanese toddlers handle Halloween more maturely than American college students, but who would be particularly surprised by that.


2 comments on “Halloween – harouin ハロウィーン”

  1. Oh, I want to see photos oh so very badly! Post them, post them, pleeeeaase?

  2. >Ten years ago, Halloween did not exist in Japan.

    Yes, when my kids were little I wanted to have Halloween with them but there was no Halloween here in Japan back then…so my wife and I made our own for them:


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