Spring 2019 Anime: Official Twitter Hashtags & Pages
That was it for the first season of 2019. Many good titles graced our screens, but if we want to be honest, there are too many series in the new season we have been waiting for quite a long time.
This time of the year is here again. Pumpkins, ghosts, witches and trick-or-treating… right? Well, yes and no, depending on where on the planet you are.
For Japan, Halloween is a bit different. First of all, it’s pronounced as Harowin, not Halloween. The correct way to pronounce this in Japanese is ハロウィン (Harowin), with all the syllables bunched together and the emphasis falling on the ha.
Despite the different pronunciation, however, Halloween wasn’t always part of recent Japanese culture. Tokyo Disney Resort started celebrating Halloween in Japan (since it’s popular in western Europe and the U.S.), but for many years it was unpopular and most people were unaware of the celebration or what it was about. The tides were turned in the last 5 years and Halloween was embraced by the Japanese people as one of the biggest cosplay events of the year, which is mostly dedicated to adults and not to kids, sweets, and trick-or-treating.
So, how do people in Japan prefer to celebrate Halloween?
The tradition of trick-or-treating has kids with scary-looking costumes wandering the neighborhood and asking for candies. In Japan, though, this is something that doesn’t occur. Since Halloween is mostly celebrated in big Japanese cities, it’s considered impolite and weird to visit a stranger’s house, especially when there is not a direct connection between Halloween and the Buddhist or Shinto traditions.
In Western Europe and the U.S.A., Halloween has a mystical and supernatural significance. It’s the day when it’s easier to contact the spirit world and that’s the reason we have all the scary and spooky stuff that come along with this festivity. It is celebrated on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day and tt begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.
In Japan, however, Halloween is celebrated more like a costume party. Countless cosplayers go at Shibuya crossing where the biggest Halloween street party in Japan takes place. People don’t have to dress up scary though. In the land of cosplay, you will see many Super Mario, Sailor Moon, and Pokémon costumes, and the Japanese favorite: zombies! The Japanese put great effort into making the outfits and the result is always mesmerizing. Their extreme makeup skills and wigs complete the looks.
If you ever find yourself in Japan, make sure your phone or camera battery is charged up and ready for the evening because you will need to shoot many photos. You will have the chance to see the famous Hachiko dog statue *sniffle*, go shopping at the most fashionable spots, and then visit Shibuya for the most amazing Halloween parade. The police officers outside Shibuya Station, nicknamed ‘DJ Cops’, are praised for using humor and funny remarks to keep the masses under control. Also, since it’s a huge street party, it’s free to join in. But since nothing can be 100% perfect: THERE IS NO MUSIC. Oh, Japan…
Shibuya is not the only place-to-be during Japanese Halloween. Many nightclubs host parties, drinking games, and costume contests with cash prizes. Horror events take place in theme parks, such as Kyary‘s spooky haunted house tour or the Tokyo Disney Resort happenings (fun fact: to enter there you must dress up as a Disney character – if you dress up as a Marvel one, for example, entry is denied). Kawasaki, Harajuku, and Omotesando are also famous gathering places for Halloween festivities. A huge crowd hangs around there dressed-up, posting pictures on social media, flirting, eating, and drinking in the streets.
The result is garbage and messy roads but thankfully, in Japan there is definitely a prevailing idea that clean is good and many people offer to clean up the next day. After all, the Japanese are known for their sense of responsibility.
There are also quiet and calm options for the non-partygoers, like Halloween-motif dinners at plenty of restaurants and cafes.
Halloween in Japan, much like Christmas, is mostly a commercial event and several companies take advantage of this. Western holidays mean opportunities for business. Food and clothing industries spend and make tons of money through seasonal marketing. Shops -decorated with orange and black color- fill up with witches’ hats, costumes-to-rent, extraordinary snacks (their appearance is a combination of kawaii and spooky – I wanna taste them all), pumpkin pizza, and more. Pepsi Japan offers a special edition of their carbonated beverage to coincide with the spooky holiday; the drink comes in a bright shade of pink that might not feel very Halloween-like but matches the soda’s theme of celebrating candy. Also, ahead of Halloween, Starbucks stores in Japan roll out both witch and princess Frappuccinos. The themed drinks are limited time only and they’re only available in Japan for now but many Starbucks around the world offer their own Halloween versions.
Even though companies exploit Halloween to earn money, the holiday is not a gift exchange feast, like Christmas or Valentine’s, so it’s up to you if you want to spend some yen.
Attending Halloween in Japan is a unique experience. Since Japan is the homeland of cosplay, they sure know how to make an event that is based on costumes special. It is very different compared to Europe and the Us and it will be a celebration to remember. Japanese people may not be familiar with the original Halloween roots, but they are masters in dressing up and they love to adopt new customs and traditions. Every year Halloween grows in popularity and I am sure the imagination of the Japanese people will not stop to amaze us. I have already started saving money to visit Japan in the middle of fall… How about you?
Many thanks to my dearest friend Daiki Haramoto and Lilee Nishizono for giving me information about Halloween in Japan and helping me with this article! I love you, mates!!