Trick or Treating in Tokyo

This is going to be quick, because we have to do school, and I have to write 2000 words today for Nanowrimo, but I wanted to tell you all about trick or treating last night.  I don’t have many pictures because it was dark, and the pictures I do have are mostly blurry. Sorry about that.

As I’ve said before, Halloween isn’t huge here. It’s getting more popular, but it’s still building. (One thing I’ve heard is that the rise in popularity has to do with kids learning English earlier in school, and teachers needing units to teach in school. Halloween lends itself well to that.) Kids and parents are learning more about Halloween, but it’s still pretty much only the international neighborhoods that do trick or treating. The big celebrations tend to be more festival-like, with parades, dancing, parties, etc., and they’re the weekend before Halloween.


Because trick or treating is only in the expat neighborhoods, and more Japanese kids are hearing about trick or treating, everybody who wants to trick or treat goes to the expat neighborhoods. My friend lives in Yoyogi-Uehara, and their neighborhood is PACKED on Halloween. Schools from other areas in Tokyo bus kids in (literally, buses full of kids) to trick or treat in their neighborhood. They were expecting over a thousand kids this year on her street. And Halloween candy prices being what they are, that’s a big investment in candy to hand out.


We were going to go to her neighborhood, but were a bit wary of the crowd. Then we found out that there was actually trick or treating in our area, so we did that instead. The way they set it up was really interesting. In order to participate, you had to bring 3 bags of candy to donate. That donation got you a map of all of the houses that were giving out candy.  (They then took the candy donations and split them up amongst the houses that were handing out candy- avoiding anyone having to spend a huge amount to host.) The houses were spread around the area, and there was only one street that had more than one house giving out candy. We went with friends and traipsed all over the streets, searching for the houses. Luckily, our intrepid leader grew up here in Denenchofu, so she knew her way around.  In an hour and a half we probably went to 11 houses, 4 or 5 of which were out of candy by the time we got there. The trick or treat location that delighted the girls the most was the grocery store by the train station. They were just so tickled that they got to trick or treat there.


The girls were slow to warm up to things; Z was nervous walking in the street because she was in all black and was afraid of cars not seeing her. Both girls were a bit intimidated by the crowd. There were probably at least 200 people, though there were probably only 20 at the most at any given house.  At each house, the candy was just in a basket on the porch, so things got a little chaotic as kids tried to reach in and get their candy. The girls really dislike being “squished”, so there was a bit of whining, but things got better as we went along.


There were lots of princesses, a fair number of wizards and superheroes, and a lot of little toddler strawberries. There was one pack of teenage girls, who all spoke fluent English. There were a number of boys running around in what my American eye recognized as girls’ witch hats (the kind with lacing up the side and bows).


There was one huge house set up as a haunted house; I’m pretty sure the owner is some kind of neighborhood official of some kind. The girls refused to go in, which was fine; I don’t like haunted houses either.

About half the candy the girls got was “American” candy and half was Japanese candy.

We started at 5:30 and were home by 7:30.  The girls were in bed by 8, and fast asleep at 8:05. And that was Halloween!

Let me know if I missed something you wanted to know about. 🙂


2 thoughts on “Trick or Treating in Tokyo

  1. Brandy on

    I LOVE the idea of pre knowing what houses are participating and which aren’t! And who arranged all this map making and candy distribution? My parents live in the house I grew up in, which is kinda all by itself by a canal, in an area that used to be rural (it sure was when I was a kid). Now there are three subdivisions in what used to be horse pastures when I was a kid, and no one trick or treats to my parents house, even though my mom buys candy and puts out a pumpkin. They just don’t know she’s there, I think, because they trick or treat in their own neighborhoods. Every year this bums my mom out. She’d love to be on a map 🙂

  2. Nice! This year we did fairly well. Last year (the first year in our new house) hardly anyone showed up, but I blame a lot of that on the rain. This year the weather was good and the kids were out and about.

    Gail just doesn’t like it when teenagers just show up with an old grocery bag and no costume. She’s a firm believer that you should earn your keep. Dress up! Participate! Don’t just leech candy.

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