Halloween in Japan

It’s that time of year when everybody’s gearing up for Halloween. It’s not as big an event in Japan as back home, but there are lots of things going on to celebrate. The shops start early putting up Halloween decorations and selling goodies.
In Japan, kids don’t generally go around trick or treating. When I was a kid, this was probably the high point of my year, so it’s a shame they don’t do it here. Halloween is not really a traditional holiday in Japan, so they don’t do all the stuff we do back home.

I teach kids in Japan, and Halloween images like Jack O’Lantern and ghosts are really popular with kids. They all know about Halloween, so we always do Halloween-themed lessons or have Halloween parties, and the kids really enjoy them even though it’s not exactly traditional.

Halloween’s a big deal at Tokyo Disneyland. They start Halloween in the middle of September and have a variety of events and things going on. This year, Tokyo Disney Sea opens its new Tower of Terror to coincide with the Halloween season. They’ll be having all kinds of parades and stuff there for Halloween.

Around Halloween, you’ll see pumpkins displayed in shops and some people having Halloween parties. A lot of stores sell Halloween things and you can buy chocolates and candies.

The time to see ghosts in Japan is in the summer. Traditionally, Halloween was supposed to be a night when the spirits were loose in the world, and Japan has a similar holiday in the summer called “Obon.”

Again, there’s no trick or treating or anything like that. It’s a holiday in August when people visit the graves of their ancestors. It’s a little something like the Mexican Day of the Dead, and there are many festivals and celebrations to remember ancestors.

Around Obon, like Halloween, you see lots of ghost-oriented stuff for kids. At Halloween time you’ll see western ghosts and ghouls, like vampires, werewolves and stuff like that, but for the real Japanese ghosts, Obon is the ideal time of year. And some of those ghosts are creepy-looking.

Japan has a whole tradition of ghost stories that are widely told. Like the modern trend in Japanese horror films coming over to the States, some of those old ghost stories have been adapted into western stories.

But, for Halloween, kids prefer vampires, werewolves, mummies and ghosts that howl under a white sheet. I was surprised the first time I found out that the kids here all knew about Halloween.

Whether it’s tradition or not, kids all over the world love Halloween. Over here, we celebrate in the schools by doing fun Halloween activities and games with the kids, and they love it!

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