Less than two decades ago, Halloween in Japan was merely a curiosity – a spooky celebration largely enjoyed by foreign transplants and international-minded youth. Fast forward to 2019 and Halloween dress-up culture has been embraced by much of Japan, with costume-clad young people flocking to Tokyo’s iconic Shibuya district and city centers around the country to show off their creations. But while costumes have been the main focus of Japan’s short Halloween history, as the number of people who enjoy Halloween increases, a new and homier way to enjoy Halloween is gaining popularity.

Home is where the party is

According to new data (Japanese language only) published by Rakuten’s Ichiba marketplace, the evolution of the haunted holiday may not yet be complete. Of 600 people surveyed, over two thirds responded that this year, they would be spending All Hallows’ Eve indoors, with 55% revealing that they would be having their own Halloween party – either at home or in a private venue.

More than just dress-up: Today, Japanese Halloween is something to be celebrated at home.
More than just dress-up: Today, Japanese Halloween is something to be celebrated at home.

Sales data from Rakuten Ichiba appears to back up this trend, recording a 400% growth in demand for ‘home Halloween’ goods over the four years from 2014. Much of this growth has come from spooky home decorations and culinary goodies – everything from premade sweets to raw ingredients for cooking up a festive feast.

Part of the move away from hitting the streets can be attributed to image problems: around 38% of both college-aged respondents and singles in their 30s noted that they wanted to celebrate privately because of the rowdy image associated with the costumed crowds in places like downtown Shibuya. But for most Halloween-at-homers, the appeal of being able to relax and celebrate to their own tune was the biggest factor.

Do it for the ‘gram

Throughout the holiday’s eerie evolution, one thing has remained constant for Japanese Halloween: Instagenicity. The combination of devilish decorations, frightening fare and bone-chilling costumes means that for social media aficionados, All Hallows’ Eve is one of the most Instagenic occasions of the year – indoors or out.

Instagenicity has evolved past costumes too, with a new focus on home decoration and Halloween-themed treats.
Japanese are focusing more than ever on creating ‘instaworthy’ home decorations and Halloween-themed treats.

According to the data, 62% of college-aged respondents who plan to celebrate Halloween at home have social media in mind when designing their costumes, decorations and snacks. While this number was lower among older age groups, the college-aged respondents said they were even more focused on their photogenic home adornment and culinary feats than they were on their costumes.

Trick-or-treating: just around the corner?

Japan’s Halloween history has, until now, mostly focused on dressing up and hitting the streets. But as Rakuten’s data confirms, the holiday’s evolution seems unstoppable, with many Japanese people already welcoming this unique tradition into their own homes. At this rate, it may only be a matter of time before neighborhood trick-or-treating becomes a common sight.