- Title: JAPAN: Costume-loving Japanese embrace the U.S. Halloween tradition
- Date: 5th November 2007
- Summary: CROWDS IN COSTUMES JAPANESE ROBOT COSTUME MAN IN PIRATE COSTUME MALL CENTRE
- Embargoed: 20th November 2007 12:00
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVAE6JG5O60UA8XF9XISR5BQ31JO
- Story Text: Tens of thousands of witches, ghouls and much, much more marched through the streets of Kawasaki in Japan's largest Halloween parade.
Blonde Japanese divas in feathered boas on a balloon float, men cross-dressing as Japanese high school girl witches, Louis XVI courtiers of Asian descent in towering pompadours, all dancing and parading through the streets to the sound of a techno beat more appropriate to Berlin's Love Parade rather than the U.S. Halloween tradition.
Yet in Japan, when it comes to having fun - anything goes.
Tens of thousands of Japanese did just that as they took to the streets in the nation's biggest Halloween street party on Sunday (October 28).
From little girls and boys in more traditional fair to adults in fanciful Japanese ghoul costumes or dressed up as cartoon characters - Japan's costume loving masses have embraced this U.S. tradition.
"At first, people would question us about why we were celebrating Halloween. But now its more like "Alright, its Halloween. Sounds fun". These events are recognised by a lot of people in Japan now,"
said Tomoko Tsuchiya of Citta Entertainment - the organisers behind the Kawasaki Halloween Parade.
The cult around fancy dress, and Japan's love of quirky festivals and eccentric trends in general, may go towards explaining why Halloween has turned from an obscure foreign celebration into a popular cultural event here.
Similar extravaganzas are erupting all over town. Tokyo Disneyland has been throwing Halloween fetes since mid-September -- starting even earlier than theme parks in the United States.
Unlike in the United States, most Halloween activities in Japan appear to target adults rather than children - some of them are frightened by the enthusiasm the adults have put in their costumes.
"I think its great that all these people are in so many different costumes," eleven-year old Kaeda Abe told Reuters in her Halloween-like witch costume.
"But it actually a bit frightening," interjected her friend Miori Mori (pronounced Mee-oh-ree Moh-ree), wearing cat's ears.
Japan's passion for Halloween extends a long tradition of festivals that liberate ordinary Japanese from the extreme control they face in everyday life.
Halloween, or All Hallow's Eve, has its roots in Celtic tradition and marks the night before All Saints Day.
Japan also has a celebration for the dead, known as Obon, but many Japanese don't seem to realise that Halloween has a similar meaning. They prefer to focus on the party.
"I never used to do anything for Halloween, but knowing now how much fun it is, I think we should enjoy the party and expand it across Japan," said Aki Kobayashi, a 29- year old company employee dressed in a very elaborate Japanese ghoul costume.
Some overseas visitors even think the Japanese version of Halloween should be exported back to its traditional home in the United States.
"I love Japanese Halloween and I like the elaborate costumes. I think its great. And I think they should be more elaborate in America,"
said 23 year old English teacher, Lisa Hutchinson from the United States.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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