Will Halloween in Japan Survive the Pandemic? Japan's Halloween Lovers Only Want One Thing in 2021

Nationwide Culture Halloween 2021.10.31
According to recent market research surveys, COVID-19 is affecting Halloween celebrations in Japan, too.
Halloween has only become a big enough holiday in Japan to really be celebrated, by kids or adults, in surprisingly recent years, with the very beginnings supposedly starting in the year 1970. Even today's popular Japanese Halloween events mostly have pretty short histories so far, like the massive yearly Halloween gathering in Shibuya, which only showed up in 2014! That means that the beloved, set-in-stone Halloween traditions found in countries like the USーtrick-or-treating, costume parties, and gorging on bags of "fun size" candyーjust haven't had the time to become a permanent part of the way Japan celebrates the autumn season each year. For local Halloween traditions, even the ones that have really found a place in Japan in recent years, this precarious position puts the celebrations in danger of fading away, all due to the continuing influence of the COVID-19 pandemic. That #StayHome culture does make it hard to have costume parties and keep other Halloween traditions alive, even if masks are actually pretty easy to accommodate.

Of course, while this phenomenon is disappointing to those of us on the Japankuru team who have a soft spot for the costumes and candy of Halloween, there's not too much to be done about it. Safety first, of course! But we can't help but be curiousーjust how deeply is the pandemic affecting how the people of Japan plan to celebrate Halloween in 2021? Fortunately, market research company Nippon Information Incorporated asked all the questions for us, surveying almost 1,000 Japanese people between the ages of 15 and 59 about their Halloween plans for the year 2021. All survey participants were women, and it's not entirely clear why Nippon Information Incorporated chose to limit the participants this way, but we think that since just about anyone can enjoy dressing up in a silly costume and eating chocolate, it's not hugely relevant to the results. So just what do these survey-takers plan to do for Halloween, and how have things changed?
The survey starts easy, asking participants how interested they are in Halloween in general, and the results are nothing surprising. Although interest is actually fairly low altogether (over 40% of survey takers said that they aren't now, and never were, interested in the holiday!), the statistics were clear: the younger the survey-taker, the more interested in Halloween. Well, it's always been popular with the younger crowd!

Then, the survey starts in with the question we really want answered: what, if anything, are the people of Japan doing to celebrate Halloween in the year 2021? To give some perspective, no matter what the situation, over half of all survey-takers said they didn't plan to do anything in particular on Halloween. But survey participants were also asked "what would your plans be if the COVID-19 pandemic had no influence over them?" Answers were a fairly varied lot, with 9% saying they would join in on a friend's home Halloween party, another 9% saying they would put up decorations, 11% saying they would go to a theme park (amusement park Halloween events are particularly popular in Japan), and about 16% saying they would be eating sweets.

Image Source: PR Times

When asked about their actual plans for 2021, howeverーCOVID-19 pandemic and allーanswers clearly changed. The percentage of participants who planned to do nothing at all to celebrate Halloween went up an additional 5% (from 51% to 56%), and interest in the kinds of plans that involve crowds of people (theme parks, costume parties) dropped dramatically. Only about 3% of answerers actually plan to visit a theme park this year! Instead, one kind of celebration truly reigns supreme in 2021, and it's the edible kind.
The most notable increases seen in the survey answers when comparing what people would do without pandemic, and what they actually plan to do this year, are all seen in food-related plans. More people plan to cook up Halloween-themed food, prepare their own spooky Halloween sweets, and of course eat lots of Halloween candy. Almost 20% of survey participants said they were going to be eating some sweet treats to celebrate Halloween this year, and when looking at the younger participants more likely to do anything at all, the percentage went up even further to close to 30%. This year, it's all about the Halloween candy. But really, when is it not?
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