Halloween? Already?

Good morning everyone,

There's no real change in the forecast-today and tomorrow are looking nice and then rain will roll in on Monday and continue through Tuesday before clearing up from the middle of the week. Highs all week will stay in the 30C range.

The Halloween season “officially” kicks off in Japan on Friday with the festivities beginning at major theme parks Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea where parades and other events will be held until Oct 31, and at Universal Studios Japan, where ghoulish festivities will continue until Nov 5.

Although many stores have been selling Halloween merchandise since late August, the “official” start of the Halloween season in Japan is usually considered to be when the theme parks get into the act.

Disneyland's annual festival, being held for the 20th time this year, includes Mickey Mouse and his friends joining ghost and skeleton “stars” entertaining guests with a variety of musical performances in “Halloween Pop’n LIVE” presented along the parade route. Jack-o’-lanterns, ghosts and other Halloween decorations create a special ambience.

Tokyo DisneySea Park will be transformed with an eerie atmosphere as the Disney Villains, together with Mickey Mouse and friends, host a cool Halloween party. Presented at Mediterranean Harbor will be “The Villains World.” In this show, the Disney Villains take the leading roles and in the grand finale, Maleficent releases her magical powers for an impressive conclusion to the party. There will be a parade that stops in seven locations and the floats each present a different genre of music, including club, pop, jazz, rock and Latin, for a unique Halloween-style performance.

Universal Studios Japan in Osaka will start its Universal Surprise Halloween event, which features Halloween Horror Nights, from Friday. At night, the theme park will be converted into a zombie-infested city (there will be some "safe" areas) as a part of the Halloween Horror Nights event. Watch out for the Zombie Mob. During the day, there will be Halloween parties and parades and the Haunted House will open at noon. There are age restrictions (no children under 12) on some attractions, so that kids won’t be terrified. These include Dead or Alive (Deadman's Forest), Street Zombies, Trauma 3: The Terrible Prison Lab and Cult of Chucky – Chucky’s Hospital Ward of Hell, and The Exorcist: The House of Exorcism. However, there will be plenty of family-friendly Halloween events, as well.

Meanwhile, many hotels have already started offering special Halloween afternoon tea sets, while stores such as Toys 'R' Us, Tokyu Hands, Daiso and Loft have dedicated Halloween sections. Besides confectionery makers rolling out Halloween-themed goodies, some restaurants are offering Halloween-inspired menus, fashion outlets are selling Halloween-related costumes and accessories, while entertainment facilities are going all out with Halloween events planned for Oct 28-31. Coca-Cola has an ad campaign featuring actress Haruka Ayase.

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In the last five years, Halloween has exploded in popularity (mainly propelled by social media) and is now the second most popular "imported" festive season in Japan after Christmas which still remains far ahead in terms of merchandising and consumption.

Japanese people love getting dressed up to take part in Halloween parades which attract tens of thousands of fans in Kawasaki, Harajuku, Roppongi and the biggest gathering of all — at Shibuya. The family-oriented parades will be held on Oct 28 and Oct 29. Last year, parades in Tokyo and Kawasaki drew about 250,000 people, according to organizers.

If you are on the streets of Roppongi or at the famous Shibuya scramble crossing on the night of Oct 31, you will be in for an eye-opening experience. Japanese in costumes amass on the streets, not going anywhere in particular. The whole celebration is more like a big cosplay festival. There is no trick or treating, by the way.

It's all a far cry from the 1980s when the only sign of Halloween most Tokyoites likely saw was a group of foreigners in costumes who used to ride the Yamanote line every year on Oct 31 to celebrate Halloween, which was then known as "Kabochasai" (Pumpkin Festival).

Trivia note: The most popular mask last Halloween was Donald Trump, since the festivities were held just one week before the U.S. presidential election. What do you think will be number one this year?

Have a great day!


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