Although the religious aspects of Christmas aren’t widely celebrated in Japan, the country has fully embraced jolly old St. Nick. This has led to a very different version of Christmas than most are used to, but it’s still “Christmas.” Japanese households are sure to eat Christmas cake (a cake with candles eaten on Christmas day that looks similar to birthday cake) and enjoy the traditional Christmas bucket of KFC chicken (clever marketing, KFC!). Despite its differences, Christmas is still accepted as Christmas and it seems like all of Japan celebrates the holiday in some form on December 25th.
Judging from the status of Christmas in Japan, you would think that the Japanese are also crazy for Halloween. On the contrary, Halloween is not very popular in Japan.
But why hasn’t Halloween taken off the way Christmas has? Japanese website, Yukan News, asked this very same question.
According to a 2010 internet survey produced by Japanese website, MyVoice, 74.1% of those surveyed said they know about events or traditions that take place on Halloween and 24.8% said they only know the holiday’s name and nothing more. In addition, a toku-chi.com survey conducted the very same year revealed that 98.1% have at least heard of Halloween. According to the figures, it seems that most people in Japan can recognize Halloween as a holiday. However, despite being well known, many choose to not celebrate Halloween.
On Japan’s Yahoo! Answers site, internet users have been discussing the reasons behind Japan’s lack of enthusiasm for Halloween. One user commented, “I feel like I’d be reported if I gave little children candy.” Another admitted, “I’m embarrassed to wear a costume.” But an overwhelming amount of people simply wondered what Halloween is all about. “I have no idea how Halloween came to be or why it’s celebrated,” said one user. “What are you celebrating?” questioned another.
That’s not to say that Halloween isn’t celebrated at all in Japan. Many schools hold Halloween parties with the help of foreign Assistant Language Teachers and many other community Halloween events take place all over the country. Japan’s largest Halloween event, “Kawasaki Halloween 2012,” took place on October 28 of this year and welcomed 3,000 participants and 100,000 spectators. Although people in Japan can be seen dressing in costume in the name of Halloween, most events take place over the weekend instead of October 31st. This means it is very rare to see anyone carving pumpkins or going from door to door, trick or treating on Halloween night.
There seems to be even more confusion brewing in Japan regarding Halloween. Have a look at some of the most popular costumes:
One internet user claims she doesn’t celebrate Halloween because, quote, “I don’t have a boyfriend.” What kind of holiday does she think it is? How many people in Japan think Halloween is a day to cosplay for your boyfriend and do a different kind of “trick or treating”?