Sep 15, 2016
What's the Deal with Halloween Costumes in Japan?
Walking into stores 2 weeks ago here in Japan, I saw Halloween decorations and Halloween goods on the shelves. What? It’s still about 2 more months before we remember the dead and start dressing like one, so what’s the hurry? I figured it’s because Halloween has taken on such a special significance in Japan and it’s the one day in the year people don’t have to dress their roles! Can’t wait!
So what are you going to be dressed as this year and where would you be getting your costumes?
From my observations, there are two mainstreams here in the selection of Halloween costumes. One, it has to be cute (or funny)! Perhaps scary isn't nice here, so if one has to dress up, then why not make people smile (or laugh)? Two, it should be something fashionable. By fashionable, I don’t really mean high fashion. I mean it has to be recognisable or trendy. For example last year Halloween coincided with the upcoming release of Star Wars, guess what, we had more Stormtroopers and Darth Vaders roaming the streets of Tokyo than they have on the movie set!
If you haven’t decided what you want to be dressed as this year, fret not. Let me try to help by suggesting where you can find what and how much, in Tokyo.
Please bear in mind two factors that would tradeoff each other: cost vs uniqueness.
The following list is in increasing levels of uniqueness.
Don Quijote (Donki)
Always the go to this place when you need something rather quickly, anything, including Halloween costumes!
Donki’s offerings include the usual suspects of sexy maids, witches, Disney characters and Japanese animation characters. The costumes are not terribly well made so it feels like it’s disposable. There is also a huge selection of masks that would do the job perfectly if you are not up to dressing up.
The cost for a reasonably simple costume starts from 1,500 yen.
Definitely the best place to go for your last minute Halloween costume emergencies!
Costco in Japan has a huge offering of Halloween costumes, mostly for kids. The offering is of course more American and hence different from what you can get from local stores. The quality is also great so you would be able to save the costume for years to come.
Costumes in Costco will cost around 3,000-4,500 yen for kids and at least 6,000 yen for grown ups. No delivery charges though. ;)
Warning: get yours early because before you know it (and much before Halloween rolls around), they will have already changed their seasonal goods to Christmas.
This would be the easiest way to find the most value-for-money Halloween costumes in Japan. However, you should be aware that since the stocks are mostly from local retailers, the variety isn’t too exciting. You'll likely find characters from Japanese animations or movies (Ghibli characters tend to be rather popular even though they aren’t that scary). You can always count on the site to find the usual witches, pirates, sexy maids wear and Disney characters!
Cost of costumes on the site ranges but most stay around 2,500 yen. Not too bad when it’s only for the day and you are off to a new costume next year!
Amazon offers almost the same deal as Rakuten but here you will be able to find a couple of foreign retailers. The selection is more exciting than Rakuten but the price is also a little higher. Do take note where the seller is located, it will affect delivery time and also charges. You would not be too happy if your desired costume comes a day after Halloween right?
Differentiated costumes retail from 2,000 yen and could reach 8,000 yen. Delivery charges may be excluded.
This is an American website that offers all sorts of Halloween costumes and gadgets. If you are thinking of being unique and not clashing with anyone else, this would be the most economical place to look.
Simple costumes start under US$20 (currently ~ 2,000 yen). Shipping to Japan typically takes two weeks and starts at US$6.90 (~ 700 yen).
Quite strangely, ASOS does offer a pretty unique series of Halloween costumes. However, think outside of scary or movie characters. ASOS is a fashion side and hence the costumes tend to have fashion flair. If you want to look good and keep your costume for outside Halloween, this could be where you go. Also more choices for the ladies than men. Kids should just look elsewhere.
Prices range from 2,000 yen onwards. However, do note that ASOS usually takes about 3 weeks to deliver (free of charge). Should you need the goods urgently, you can opt for express delivery but that would cost you another 3,500 yen. Also be aware that purchases above a certain amount will be subjected to Japanese import taxes.
This is where you should look for some really professional stuff. Last year some fellow mums in Japan showed up in a matching Teddy Bear Mascot, yes those with the huge heavy heads and required some sort of internal cooling system. Of course there are other more sexy costumes as well.
I personally have no idea how far these professional costumes may cost but it is safe to say you need to pay a lot more to rent one of these than to own one, from other places that is.
Make it yourself
Finally, if there should be nothing else that fits your bill, it would be fun and interesting to make your own costume. In that case, you can pair with your kids or your significant other.
The main cost of DIY costumes would be the gathering of materials needed to make the costume. If anything, it may be really difficult to get all the materials you need from one place. Here, your imagination is the limit and the same can be said for the price as well.
If you've got an tips or experiences on where to get your Halloween costumes in Japan, please drop us a line below.
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Oooh - Village Vanguard and Thank You 390 Marts have great accessories for dressing up as specific cartoon characters, or basics in a wide range of colors, respectively. I have a lot of fun making our costumes from scratch each year. I find a lot of great supplies from Daiso - ping pong balls make great pokeballs. A baseball cap with craft foam horns makes a great viking helmet. Plus the bigger Daisos have fun makeup sections that around Halloween starts boasting colorful fake eyelashes, body paint, and kits to put fake scars on your body. To that effect, we went to a giant city-wide Halloween bar-hop last year, and I saw less "cute" halloween costumes and more "sexy + horrific, gore-y zombie makeup," but as long as you are enthusiastic about your costume, people will love it!
Amazon Japan have great deals on kids costumes at the moment. Mario costumes for 1500 yen complete with moustache and all. Frozen Elsa and Anna costumes WITH hair piece, tiara and wand for 2300 yen. Guess what I used my City-cost vouchers for!!??