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Halloween parade a fun autumn tradition for kids, parents alike

by Kazuaki Nagata

Tokyo’s Harajuku-Omotesando district was alive with Halloween festivities on Sunday as a throng of costumed kids and parents marched through the neighborhood for the Harajuku Omotesando Halloween Pumpkin Parade.

Although iffy weather caused some to worry that the Halloween event, in its 27th year, might be canceled, in the end about 1,000 children aged 12 and under took part, along with their families.

Around 12:30 p.m., Jingumae Elementary School’s athletic field was filled with witches, princess, superheroes, pirates and fairies, to name a few.

“I think it’s the best Halloween event in Tokyo,” said a 45-year-old American man who came with his son, who was dressed as Peter Pan.

The man, who lives in Shibuya Ward and is from the West Coast, said the event is a great opportunity to enjoy Halloween in Japan, where the tradition is not as strongly rooted as it is in Western countries.

“Halloween was always my favorite holiday (and) basically for the kids, so it’s great that kids in Japan can also celebrate Halloween,” he said, adding this is the fourth or fifth time his family had come to the event.

The march got under way to a samba beat, with the costumed walkers adding an extra dash of color to the upscale district’s main avenue between Meiji Dori and Aoyama Dori.

Proud parents snapped photos of their children as onlookers enjoyed the scene.

And it wasn’t just the kids who were dressed up. Parents and even dogs got in on the act. Some parents decorated their baby carriage into pumpkins. In addition to the traditional Halloween favorites, characters from the popular “Dragon Ball” cartoon were also present.

“I’m glad it didn’t rain,” said a woman from Shibuya Ward who came with her two children and husband.

She said it was fun to see the participants’ creative costumes.

“From children to adults, everyone can enjoy (this event),” said the woman who wore a witch dress, while her 5-year-old daughter had one patterned in Halloween characters.

A 6-year old girl who came with her mother and friends said she liked walking down the middle of the street.

Dressed as an angel, the girl said this was her first time to take part and that she wanted to come back next year.

Kiddy Land in Harajuku started the Halloween parade 27 years ago — the first such event held in Japan, according to organizers.

Back then, the event was attended mostly by children of foreign families, who were watched by curious Japanese passersby. As the event attracted media attention over the years, it has grown into a bigger affair sponsored by an association to promote local shops, they said.

The kids also enjoyed free snacks at 20 stores around the district, a prize drawing and a costume contest.