Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween in Japan

Spouse and I spent two weeks in Japan, from September 28 until October 12.  While Spouse attended two physics meetings, the first in Kobe, the second in Osaka, I toured Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, a few museums, and shopping streets. 

For an outsider like me, Japan seems like an art form.  Sweet shops abound, and small cakes are packaged as if they were jewels.  Little things, like socks, are placed in small paper bags that are taped closed and handed with both hands by the sales clerk to the purchaser. Dry napkins are hard to find in cafes and restaurants, but I didn't miss them, because the moist ones sealed in plastic seemed luxurious to me.  Streets and sidewalks are free from litter, but we couldn't find trash cans when we had something to throw away.

I knew that Japan is a country that celebrates festivals, like the Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring, a children's festival and a doll festival, as well as New Year's, and other seasonal holidays.  After World War 2, Japan adopted and adapted Christmas.  What I did not expect were jack o'lanterns, witches, and "Happy Halloween" signs in stores, malls, buses, and hotels.   

In Kobe, Kitano Meister Garden:
 an old elementary school
 turned into a crafts and food gallery

Sweet shop in Kitano Meister Garden with Halloween decorations

Entrance to the Mitsui Garden Hotel, Osaka
Lobby, Mitsui Garden Hotel, Osaka

Lobby, Mitsui Garden Hotel, Osaka

Lobby: Mitsui Garden Hotel, Osaka (reflection of CERN Wife in sign)
Flower shop, Osaka

Bus, Osaka

Preparing Halloween display, Kyoto train station

Another 100 yen store, in Kyoto

Shoe store, Kyoto mall

Halloween shoes, Kyoto

Although I'm not in Japan to see what happens on October 31, from what I've read, kids don't go trick-or-treating (that's American), but teenagers and young adults dress in costumes and go partying and carousing around town. But from the Halloween decorations in stores, I would assume that merchants are pushing gift-giving on Halloween, a festival that's been in Japan for fifteen years or so.

Have a Happy Halloween, and may the ghosts and witches bring you candy, donuts, apples, and all things pumpkin. 

P.S. - I think blogspot is spooked: It wouldn't let me edit the photos, and kept putting frames around pictures around pictures.  So I gave up.  It's Halloween.  Nothing I can do about it.


  1. This is really interesting. Who knew the Japanese had started celebrating Halloween? And so lavishly! What fascinates me is that the first picture above says "Japanese Halloween" (in both English and in Japanese). Great photos, by the way. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Great story and photos Karen!

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