Thursday, October 25, 2012

Exporting Halloween

Gakuen Alice ©2003-2012 Tachibana Higuchi/Hakusensha

There's an interesting, timely, article by Brian Ashcraft on Kotaku today about the sudden rise of Halloween as a "thing" in Japan...in no small part as a result of efforts by Disney and Universal Studios to introduce/market it to Japanese children and audiences more generally. Here's an excerpt:
The two things that have really made Halloween in Japan are Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan. And they've done this in the last decade. Tokyo Disneyland held its first Halloween event in 2000, and each year it's gotten bigger and bigger. Ditto for Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.
Prior to this, Halloween in Japan used to only mean foreigners wearing funny customs in bars and drinking on public transportation. But Tokyo Disneyland and USJ provided an easy way for Japanese people to enjoy Halloween.
[...]There isn't widespread trick-or-treating (and where there is, it can be highly organized), but more and more kids are going to Halloween parties and dressing up. Then there's an increasing amount of merchandising, which ranges from small pumpkins (normal sized ones are incredibly expensive), cakes, cookies, ice cream, and more. You now see Halloween decorations in stores and even on some TV shows—things that you never saw a decade ago.
Be sure to read the rest of the (short) article here.  A fascinating example of globalization at work, as well as the interest the children's industries have in spreading consumption-focused holidays as a revenue source. Thoughts?