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Back before Halloween became as popular in Japan as it is today, Tokyo expats looking to celebrate the holiday would stage impromptu costume parties on the last car of the JR Yamanote loop line. At the time, though, most Japanese people weren’t familiar with Halloween, and this tended to freak the indigenous locals out, leading Japan Railways to eventually crack down on the festivities.

Things have changed a lot in the last 15 years, though. Tokyo is starting to seriously get into the Halloween spirit, so much so that another rail company, Tokyu, actually held a Halloween costume contest onboard one of its trains, and we went to check it out.

Ordinarily, there’s nothing particularly spooky about the Toyoko Line. It runs from Yokohama to Tokyo’s Shibuya, passing through Kawasaki along the way. To give you examples of the kind of non-scary fun it usually provides access to, this year we used Toyoko trains to go hunt Pikachus, eat adorable animal donuts, and visit a rabbit café.

Last Saturday, though, the Toyoko Line served as the venue for the costume contest in the inaugural and ongoing Shibuya Adult Halloween event, sponsored by Tokyu Corporation and Asahi Beer. 105 costumed participants entered, divided into 49 groups.

▼ Contestants boarding the train

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An entire car of a Toyoko Line train was set aside for the contest, giving each group ample space to perform skits and dances for the judges.

▼ Kyonshi (Chinese hopping ghosts) are a popular Halloween costume choice in Japan this year.

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▼ Ditto for anti-digital piracy mascot Movie Thief/Eiga Dorobo

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▼ This group of three created their stunning costumes for less than 20,000 yen (US$190) by shopping at the 100-yen store and using donated scraps of cloth.

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▼ The…Two Musketeers?

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▼ You know, Ninja Zombie Train would make an awesome movie.

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In Japan, your costume premise doesn’t have to be gruesome or action-packed though. You can always can compensate by picking up some cuteness points instead.

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Really, the trick is to just wrap yourself in the aura of anything people have positive feelings about, like romance…

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…cold, hard cash…

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…or tight-fitting leather.

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▼ In the most meta entry of all, this woman dressed up as a Toyoko Line train.

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Eventually, the train pulled into the last stop at Shibuya Station, and all the contestants filed out for the awards ceremony at the Hikarie entertainment complex, presided over by gurabia and media personality Akina Minami.

In the end, the grand prize went to a quartet calling themselves Aoyama Cemetery Hills.

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The ghoulish group of four won over/intimidated the judges with their chilling costumes and impassioned requests that they hand over their “delicious eyeballs.” But while the prize may have placated the group for now, it’s likely they’ll be back again next year, since the four members are parents and children, and given their apparent status as undead, it’s doubtful any of them are going anywhere anytime soon.

Related: Shibuya Adult Halloween website
Photos: RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]