Japan's Halloween Trains

How does one celebrate Halloween in Japan? The holiday wasn't a thing until a critical number of American ex-pats made it so, and they dressed up in costumes and did what the Japanese do -ride the commuter trains. In the 1990s, trains became a place for partying on Halloween, and even in the days leading up to October 31st, much to the annoyance of officials and regular commuters.

Year after year, the Halloween trains continued to get more and more rowdy. At the turn of the century, I remember hearing English-teacher friends say that if their school found out they rode the Halloween train, they’d lose their jobs.

Everything seemed to reach fever pitch in 2009 when protesters appeared at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo carrying signs that read, “Stupid Gaijin, Get out of Japan!” and “We Japanese Don’t Need Halloween!”

This was after police had to patrol train station platforms on Tokyo’s Yamanote Line the year before, holding up English language warning signs for the Halloweeners.

Things have changed. This year, the train company in Osaka is sponsoring public Halloween party trains, one for adults and another for children. Maybe it's a case of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." At least that way, the party trains can be separated from the everyday commuters. Read the history of Japan's Halloween trains at Kotaku.  

(Image credit: Flickr user Tim Brockley)


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