Halloween may not be a tradition practiced everywhere in the world, but one thing that unites us across cultures and borders is the occasional urge to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes (or clothes) and become a different individual for at least a day — be it a celebrity or our favorite childhood character. Halloween thus comes in handy, giving us, at the very minimum, a globally-recognized reason to go out of our comfort zones and dress to impress for a day.
Being the mecca of cosplay culture, Japan naturally embraced the culture of Halloween, making it one of its most anticipated annual events in recent years. Though it is said that early Halloween events took place in the 1970s and early 1980s, Halloween started to become a widely popular event in Japan only around the early 2000s when Tokyo Disneyland and Osaka’s Universal Studio Japan began celebrating Halloween regularly. Today, the event’s popularity continues to grow immensely every year — in 2018 only, it was estimated that the Halloween market reached some 124 billion Japanese yen. From stores and candies to street parades and, of course, awe-inspiringly creative costumes, come October, Japan enters into a mind-blowing Halloween fever.
Unlike the traditional trick-or-treat Halloween custom, however, Japan’s Halloween celebration is predominantly about the looks: the more creative one gets with their costumes, the better. Every year in the last days of October, thousands of people walk the streets of Tokyo and other bigger cities, creating massive street fashion shows and public celebrations inspired by the world’s best known fictitious and non-fictitious personas. The wildest parties take place in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, where crowds of costume-clad people take it to the streets for a wild night out, while neighboring Kawasaki city attracts real costume gurus with its prize-awarding annual street parade, a public celebration of ultimate creativity and imagination.
This year, to commemorate the arrival of yet another Halloween, we have put together a short list of our favorite costumes inspired by Japanese pop culture and film. If you haven’t decided your Halloween costume for the year, or you’re just looking for a reason to dress as someone else for the day, here’s your chance to get creative.
1. Gintoki Sakata (Gintama,2017): The loved-by-all comical samurai
The perfect costume for those who want to play it cool by being both a humble fool and a tough fighter who also happens to look extremely well, look no further than Gintoki Sakata. The protagonist from the ultra-famous anime series and now a real-live adaptation movie Gintama, Gintoki is a former highly skilled revolutionary samurai who, after fighting aliens that have invaded Japan in the Edo Period, finds himself doing all sorts of peculiar jobs to help him make ends meet — from sushi restaurant assistant to detective and everything in between. His ability to transform into various professionals for a day, impressive fighting skills, loveable relationship with his friends, and most of all, an unprecedented sense of humor, easily make us want to be him for at least a day.
What you need: Short silver wig, tight black pants, black boots, black shirt with red collar and button stripes, black belt, white kimono with blue wave ends, wooden stick.
2. Ichigo Kurosaki (BLEACH,2018): The aloof supernatural hero
Reap everyone’s attention by dressing as this orange-haired supernatural hero from popular manga series BLEACH an aloof at a glance high school student whose life takes an interesting turn when he becomes a substitute Soul Reaper. In a bid to save his own family from a dangerous lost soul, Ichigo Kurosaki begins to protect deceased people’s souls and guide them toward achieving a peaceful transition to the land of the dead. Like any hero’s hard job, however, Kurosaki also has to fight the “hollows,” dangerous, lost souls that can’t find peace of mind and move on. Though appearing reserved, detached and unkind at first, fans of Kurosaki know that those aren’t his true colors — this Halloween, it’s your mission to portray his true self!
What you need: Spiky orange wig, brown contact lenses, black overall or black wide skirt and short, tight black jacket, white cloth belt, white tabi socks, straw sandals, heavy steel sword
3. Sailor Moon（Pretty Guardians Sailor Moon Eternal The MOVIE,2020）: The cute bosslady no one can mess with
Can’t wait to show everyone that you’re never running away from a good fight? That you got the guts (and power) to fight all evil around you? That you might still be young but you’re a bosslady no one can mess with? If so, Sailor Moon’s costume is the perfect fit for you this Halloween. The world-famous protagonists of Naoko Takeuchi’s shojo manga series, Sailor Moon is a highschool girl who is always late, cries a lot, and isn’t brilliant when it comes to tests. But she is also destined to save the Earth from the forces of evil and once she gets used to her fate of being the “soldier of love and justice,” she is unstoppable. Her down-to-earth cuteness, her power to fight even the scariest evil in human form, and her ability to fight with that massively long hair — who wouldn’t want to be Sailor Moon for at least a day?!
What you need: Extremely long blonde wig, mini blue skirt, high red boots, tight white shirt, giant red ribbon, white full-arm gloves, Sailor Moon headband
Happy Halloween, wherever you are in the world!
Text by Rose Haneda