Oct 27, 2013

Halloween in Japan

The Japanese are very fond of enjoying Western holidays which have undergone a complete Japanese makeover. Halloween is no exception.
When I first came to Japan in 1991, Halloween was a celebration for western foreigners confined to urban areas . In recent years however, Halloween has become quite popular nationwide, although there is no actual trick-or-treating, jack-o-lantern carving, or any other traditional Halloween celebration.

 From September through October, Japanese malls and department stores put up lavish Halloween decorations and sell Halloween-themed goods that are “cute rather than spooky”!

Trick-or-Treat candy
My Halloween cookies

Trying to be spooky with
witches fingers!
White chocolate monsters eyeballs!
Many restaurants offer Halloween-inspired menus and fashion houses display colorful, Halloween costumes with cute accessories. The major attraction for Japanese in Halloween is dressing up in fancy costumes called “Kosupure (cosplay = costume play or masquerade), and partying.
The kids in their "Cosplay"
It's all about having fun!
The growing popularity of Halloween in Japan is the result of intelligent marketing and attractive media promotions which deliver the Japanese consumer just what they want; a chance to “dress up and have fun ", nothing more, nothing less! The two major theme parks in Japan, Tokyo Disneyland
and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka http://www.usj.co.jp/e/halloween2013/,
also commercialize Halloween, by holding Halloween parades, costume parties and trick-or-treat events.

Many do not know that there is a Japanese version of Halloween in mid-summer, known as the “O-Bon Festival”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bon_Festival
During this special time, spirits of the dead ancestors apparently visit their household shrines. Family members welcome the departed souls, by placing food and beverages on Buddhist altars, and lighting bonfires and lanterns to guide the spirits back home. However, there is no “obon costume”, but some Japanese adorn the traditional summer kimono (yukata) for this occasion. While imported cultures may entertain Japanese hearts transiently, only traditional events seem to bring peace and harmony to the Japanese soul.

Culture is like wealth; it makes us more ourselves, it enables us to express ourselves. Philip Gilbert Hamerton

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