Photo: Halloween revelers dressed as popular superheroes pose at Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo.

During the Middle Ages, it was believed that Halloween was the night when the veil separating this world from the afterlife was at its most transparent. It’s fair to say that this belief was based on superstition. In 2016, of course, we like our beliefs to be based on data – and what does Rakuten Group data tell us about Halloween? That different countries have very different tastes when it comes to costumes!

So let’s pull back the veil and examine how consumers around the world are preparing for this year’s All Hallows’ Eve.

Starting with Europe, where Halloween originated, our German marketplace Rakuten.de shows that Germans are traditionalists, favoring the classics in their choice of costumes. Perhaps this should come as no surprise, as it was European writers like Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley who gave us such spine-chilling characters as Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster. Here is a breakdown of Rakuten.de’s top 5 most popular Halloween costumes of 2016:

  1. Madhouse clothing – white straightjacket
  2. Ghost Pirate
  3. Grim Reaper
  4. Sassy Skeleton
  5. Elegant Vampire

And here are some other Rakuten.de favorites for 2016:

Rakuten.de's Halloween selection favors the classics

Perhaps more than anywhere else, Hollywood has influenced our perceptions of Halloween. Popular movies seem to influence people’s costume choices and this year is no exception, with Star Wars, Disney princesses, supervillains and superheroes among the most popular costumes in the US. According to data from Slice Intelligence, which uses online purchase receipts to extract consumer spending insights, the following table outlines the top types of costumes for 2016:

Slice Intelligence data on Halloween costume popularity

Halloween is popular in Japan, too – though it’s a more recent phenomenon. Some date the festival’s popularity here to either over-exuberant fans holding impromptu dress-up parties on public trains or the combined efforts of McDonald’s, Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan promotions. Either way, prior to 2000, Halloween was definitely not a thing. And now it is.

Still, Japan has taken to its new ritual with customary – albeit occasionally misguided – vigor (where else can you find Christmas trees outfitted in Halloween decorations?). Nevertheless, Japan has long been the land of cosplay, so perhaps it should not have been a surprise that a festival centering on the wearing of costumes ultimately took off.

Rakuten Ichiba, Japan’s top online marketplace, has a mini-site dedicated to Halloween cosplay. Based on its real-time rankings, Japan seems in some ways to straddle the European traditional approach with the Hollywood-inspired US trends. Or maybe Japan is just finding its own way to enjoy the holiday. Here is Japan’s top 5 costumes of 2016 – for the week Oct. 18-25:

  1. Aladdin-inspired
  2. Where’s Wally
  3. Mario
  4. Minions
  5. Policewoman

And here are some other popular costumes – for creatures of all shapes and sizes:

Japan's Rakuten Ichiba has Halloween costumes for creatures of all shapes and sizes

However you choose to celebrate Halloween, have fun and stay safe.