Many of your college classes, especially those involving global cultural studies or comparable topics, may require you to write about traditions in other countries. This sample essay will serve as an example for you on how to write an essay about holiday traditions in Japan – specifically, Halloween traditions.
Halloween, though not originally an American holiday – the traditional Samhain celebration that inspired Halloween was established by the Celts – has typically been regarded as a western tradition. However, this frighteningly fun holiday is beginning to take spooky roots in other cultures, such as Japan. Their customs are similar to those practiced in the United States, but also boast some fascinating differences.
Celebrations of Halloween in Japan typically don’t include trick-or-treaters. Japanese youngsters may celebrate the holiday at schools, particularly if they attend international schools, but don’t expect to see young goblins wandering from door to door begging for candies. Japanese culture is guided by the principle of avoiding “being a pain or bother to someone else.” Because Japanese children are taught not to inconvenience others, trick-or-treating will likely never become as popular in Japan as it is in the United States.
Instead, Halloween in Japan is geared more towards adults who like to dress in costumes and attend bars as well as parties that serve alcohol. Celebrations are typically held in shopping malls, bars, and theme parks in September and October. Other common events, which are also held in the United States, might include zombie runs, costume parties, parades, and flash-mobs. Ghost stories and haunted houses are just as common in Japan as they are in the United States.
Let’s not forget about dressing up! Japan invented the hobby of “cosplaying,” or a costume play. This is popular among children and adults in Japan, who often dress up to go to work, school, or Halloween-themed events. Just like in the United States, Japan sees a huge increase in commercialism surrounding the Halloween holiday, with pumpkins, decorated desserts, and media centering around Halloween. Although orange and black are traditional Halloween colors in the United States, purple and green are the habitual colors of the season in Japan. Common foods eaten during this time include purple yams, themed foods, and, of course, pumpkins.
Halloween in Japan only recently became a popular custom after Tokyo Disneyland began to celebrate the holiday. Tokyo Disneyland held its first Halloween extravaganza in 2000, and every year since, it has become larger and more extravagant. Universal Studios Japan in Osaka also recently began to celebrate the holiday. These parks provided a pathway for Japanese people to become introduced to, and enjoy the Halloween celebration. Moreover, it provided a financial boom for businesses wishing to cash into the craze.
This shift was great news for many Japanese people, who used to view Halloween simply as an opportunity for silly foreigners to dress up in random costumes, and drink alcohol on public transportation. Now, Japanese citizens are becoming more used to the holiday, and less aggravated about holiday celebrations delaying traffic. Halloween is rapidly becoming a global tradition – here are so many spooky stories and tantalizing sugar highs.
- Ashcraft, B. (2017, October 26). “Cosplay” Isn’t The Best Word For Halloween In Japan . Retrieved from https://kotaku.com/cosplay-isnt-the-best-word-for-halloween-in-japan-1819868916
- Kaplan, M. (2017, October 31). The Japanese subway is truly terrifying on Halloween. Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2017/10/25/the-subway-is-a-truly-terrifying-place-to-be-on-halloween/
- Love It or Hate It, Halloween Is Going Global. (2017, October 27). Retrieved from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/10/halloween-world-costumes-germany-uk/
- Morton, L. (2013). Trick or treat: A history of Halloween. Reaktion.
- Planet, L. (2017). Lonely Planet Japan. Lonely Planet.
- Santino, J. (2000). Halloween and other festivals of death and life. University of Tennessee Press.
- Steger, I. (2017, October 29). Halloween is a $1 billion celebration of cuteness and grossness in Japan. Retrieved from https://qz.com/1113404/halloween-is-a-1-billion-celebration-of-cuteness-and-grossness-in-japan/