Halloween isn't officially celebrated in Japan but there are pockets of celebrations. One of the most famous is the controversial Yamanote line "party" (covered here on Japan Probe) in which members of the foreign community along with their Japanese friends party on trains on the most heavily traveled train line in Tokyo. They dress up, drink, and are generally noisy and get in the way of regular travelers when they try to use the train. Some people find it highly interesting and some find it annoying.
In the past, language schools have also been known to make a lot of hay at this time of year. Nova used to hold parties in which teachers could freely associate with students in their off hours for the sake of free food and drink. When I worked at Nova, students had to pay a fee to go to the party but attendance was not mandatory for teachers so I didn't go. The dressing up part of such parties was very attractive even if the begging door-to-door for treats hasn't caught on.
My friend Shawn, transformed into a giant conglomeration of candy corn, stands in front of a trick-or-treat goodie bag.
For me, I found my celebration in the same place I always do for holidays that aren't observed in Japan, in the online game Guild Wars. It's virtual but that doesn't make it much less fun and it certainly makes it far less troublesome. I don't have to put up with nasty little children ringing my doorbell incessantly and demanding candy under threat of eggs on my door or toilet paper around my trees (not that I have any trees where I live now).
My friend Shawn looking strangely sanguine in the mouth of a Charr as it chomps him down in its cardboard jaws.
My bestest buddy Tankarific Carl chats with a real Charr. He's offering the Charr some catnip and a ball of yarn if he promises not to use him as a scratching post.
The Guild Wars experience allows us to travel around to areas decorated with pumpkins, ghosts, and a cut-out of an enemy which we can stand behind and put our faces in as a way of looking like it's eating us. People are everywhere wearing pumpkin heads and various masks as well as changing into candy corn (thanks to transmogrifier potions). We also get to drink absinthe and get virtually bombed and spring ghosts out of boxes.
Mad King Thorn bosses us around amongst the ghost posies. A candy corn guard stands by in case the crowd develops a taste for pumpkin pie and splits open his head to feast on the goo inside.
The real treat of the Halloween festivities though is being present for the arrival of Mad King Thorn. This is where you play games within the game for bags of treats. The King asks you to play rock, paper, scissors with select players, a version of "Simon Says", and orders you to deduce a required action from statements he makes. If you fail at any time, he kills you. It's a lot like childhood party games in more ways than one, well, except for the dying part if you fail. The funny thing is that you're just as likely to mess up on something like "Simon Says" at your keyboard as you are in real life and everyone around you laughs at you when you screw up just like they would in real life.
Tankarific sports the scarecrow mask he got at the end of the King's first visit. He also has a mummy mask from a subsequent visit.
In the end, you get a Halloween mask as a gift when the King leaves no matter how many times you fail at his games and commands. Since I'm worse at his simple games than I am at the far more complex real game, it's good for me that he's generous even to the most incompetent players.