Surviving Halloween in Tokyo

Halloween can be difficult to celebrate if you are abroad, but some places are starting to welcome the holiday. It's not a requirement for the rest of the world to adopt American culture, but it's a nice taste of home if you've been abroad for a while. Take Tokyo for example. In the past few decades, Halloween has become part of the culture. It's still fairly new in Japan, with news and TV programs doing their best trying to figure out the history, and somehow it has it's own interpretation of the event. They get it right in some aspects, but it's interesting to see how stores and people prepare for it. I recently saw a T.V. program trying to educate the public on the purpose of Halloween by reading different tweets under the hashtag #halloween. The results were very different without many posts relating to each other in any way, but Japan is trying. After going out to Shibuya for Halloween weekend and Roppongi on Halloween day, I picked up a few things that I learned that I'd like to pass along if you or others are considering going. Happy reading and enjoy the photos.

1. Old School Scary Costumes Have A Huge Following

This is a refreshing change from what you see in costume aisles for adults in the U.S. You will encounter lots of people who embrace the scary aspect of halloween. You will see witches, ghouls, zombies, and lots of costumes that incorporate fake blood or gory makeup. Take a look at these sweet costumes. Put on that skeleton make up or fake gash on your face and feel free to mosey on over.

However if you are in the club, costumes tend to be more subtle with only face make up being the most popular while wearing normal outfits to go out. Once you are in the club, you may just forgo the costume all together. Depending on how you want to spend the night, go to Shibuya to walk around while wearing your costumes and possibly get into a few clubs with the same costume, or have more straightforward clubbing experience in Roppongi.

2. Rethink It If You Are Claustrophobic

You feel like Nematodes in Spongebob. It’s super packed. Everywhere. This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you are claustrophobic. Locals tend to talk about how difficult it is to walk around these areas during Halloween, while tourists or people who recently moved to Japan are interested in experiencing it. It’s a unique event to behold in whichever way you look at it.

3. Locals Will Approach You For a Conversation

This may be one of the few times that Japanese locals approach you to talk. People tend to be quite shy in Japan. They are less likely to strike up a conversation with a stranger or even say hello, but everything changes on Halloween. Maybe it’s the liquid courage. It could be due to the excitement of dressing up. It’s most likely a combination of both! Either way it lightens the mood and more people are outgoing. Lots of people are going to ask you for photos so be ready for it. You are bound to meet many new friends or acquaintances throughout the night.

4. Most People Don't Speak Fluent English

This can be challenging when you want to compliment others on their costume or ask for a photo, so make sure you to have these phrases handy. People are really nice and usually won’t turn you down for a photo. Remember not to be a creeper. Take photos of the people and their faces, not just their body. Duh! There are going to be some creepy people, so be aware of who is taking your photo. You can tell them no. Generally people are nice, but I have encountered some strange people who lack social skills in Tokyo.

-I like your costume

あなたのコスチューム好きです。(or あなたのコスプレ好きです。)

Anata no kosuchūmu sukidesu. (Or anata no kosupure sukidesu.

-Can I take a photo with you?


Anata to issho ni shashin o totte mo īdesu ka?

-Can I take a photo of you?


Anata no shashin o totte mo īdesu ka?

-Do you have an instagram?

インスタグラムやってますか? (This directly means, do you do Instagram?)

Insutaguramu yattemasu ka?

-Have a nice day!


Yoi tsuitachi o

5. Clubs Are Twice As Expensive (Just Because!)

It’s understandable that you would have to pay a cover, but I’m not going to pay ¥7,000 to walk through a door and then pay for drinks. On the weekend, we ended up going to a club, only to wait in line for two hours and then leave because of the price. We came back on a Wednesday and because we knew someone, we got in for ¥4,000. Pro tip, check the price before you get to the front!


The ward mayor Ken Hasebe has urged nearby store owners to hold off on sales of bottled alcoholic beverages, even though I think canned ones still allowed. There were some reports of people being pervy, violent, and rowdy. I was near the truck before it started getting to out of hand and eventually the crowd toppled it over after I left.

Although Shibuya is beginning to get notorious for having a rowdy and crazy atmosphere each year, it's still has it's good sides, as you can see from the people in my photos. I had a bunch of fun walking around Shibuya. There were lots of nice people dressed up in costumes and they were very welcoming for photos and conversations. I wish Tokyo was like this every weekend. Well maybe not so often, but at least twice a year. I miss themed parties from the states. The lesson I usually learn is that you usually have fun depending on what kind of company you are with. I had a blast because I walked around and explored Shibuya with these dudes. Have fun with your friends and don’t worry about other people. You’re going to do just fine. Till next year peeps!