Evolution of Halloween in Japan
Halloween is right around the corner, and kids in Japan have already started the festivities, wearing some crazy costumes and heading out for a night on the town. Many commuters in Tokyo are witnessing the Halloween frenzy on their way home from work, as youngsters made up and dressed up in some wild outfits roam around the streets. But this is somewhat of a new phenomenon. Things weren't always this way...
When I was growing up in Tokyo over 25 years ago, Halloween was celebrated by only a handful of foreigners living in Japan, mostly children of expats living in Japan. Since I went to an international school, we had Halloween parties at school, and a few kids living in certain areas of Tokyo went trick-or-treating, but that was about it.
And now...it's mayhem! Starting maybe around a decade or more ago, younger foreigners from all over the world living in Tokyo and other major metropolitan areas started dressing up and going out on Halloween, surprising passengers on trains and other onlookers, many of whom never knew about the custom of Halloween. In recent years, most Japanese people living in Tokyo, at least, have become aware of what happens on October 31. But of course, it's still looked at as something all the crazy kids are doing.
And the crazy kids couldn't care less. There are now regular costume competitions, held with the support of major sponsors. In Shibuya, the capital of coolness in Tokyo, the always-crowded Toyoko Train Line is holding a costume competition, sponsored by Asahi Beer, and a whole train is reserved just for this party as participants get judged on the moving train goes as it goes along the route to Yokohama. For this ghoulish occasion, the train will be turned into the "Adult Halloween Line."
Two more days, and some parts of Tokyo, and other cities, are going to be getting crazy.
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