Always Halloween in Tokyo

So I was out in Tokyo for Halloween this year (the ratty gaijin parts mostly) and it occurred to me…

The Japanese seem to have a natural predilection to doll up, maintaining a thoroughly polished (and usually well vetted) look at all times. But many, in the right context, exercise their visualist tendencies in another way: full-out costume play. Ironically this is generally the domain of adults (perhaps escape from the drudgery and obligation of life). It’s uncommon to see Japanese children out in costume (though I’m told invoking one’s favorite anime character through dress and play is common with young children). However, older kids and teenagers seem to rarely make such interests public. Given the easy association with the sex-related “cos-play” sub-culture and the widely acknowledged problem of sexual harassment (groping and the like), it’s little wonder that teens would be put off.

But the interest/obsession with costume play is fairly common overall and an entire industry exists to meet the demand by providing all manner of merchandise (apparel, toys, etc). Distribution is handled by hobby and specialty shops, sex shops (for that segment of the market) but also in national discount chain stores. So, it’s an fixation that’s out in full view of society. And as the most pagan-friendly of the western holidays, Halloween seems tailor made to the modern Japanese sensibility. There’s a rich history that’s easily modified and marketed and it even comes complete with a bright signature color. Given their spin on Christmas (for couples) and Valentines Day (the gal does the buying) I’d think that the confectionery companies would have found a marketing angle long ago. But, alas, even though interest is growing, Halloween remains somewhat of a fringe event in Japan.

In the meantime, it’s mostly foreigners and the locals that gravitate to them who ‘celebrate’ Halloween in Japan. But, as a veteran celebrant myself, of this most excellent diversion, I have to say that some serious craft and effort went into many of the outfits I saw. The creativity and commitment applied might even reach the standard of that centrifuge of scary-brash-camp: New York City. And why not? In some ways, it’s always Halloween in Tokyo. [but that’s for another post]

Since I was preoccupied with tricks and treats of my own I find myself pic-less (read: unable to share). So instead I’ll direct you to some excellent photo accounts by others of Halloween in Tokyo (yes, I may be in a few) and across Japan.

A good 2-way is hard to find (off the shelf too)…

Some excellent pics compliments tune-in-tokyo
Halloween Tokyo 2009

Nice Flickr group pool..
Halloween in Japan Flikr Group Pool

Shibuya Zombie




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