Tokyo Halloween revelers descend on Shibuya, and urged to be the “cleanest Halloween in the world”

Japan Times: 

Thousands of revelers dressed up in wild costumes and wearing makeup swarmed Hachiko Square in front of Tokyo’s JR Shibuya Station on Saturday evening to celebrate Halloween.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department mobilized hundreds of riot police for the event this year.

Last year, two people were arrested. One was detained for punching a police officer while the other was taken into custody for molesting a woman. Earlier in the day, singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu called on partygoers in the capital to keep the streets clean as a large quantity of litter was expected to result from the gathering.

I want everyone to help keep the streets clean, using these bags (provided by the city),” the singer said in front of Tokyo Tower in Minato Ward.

The event was organized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to raise awareness by handing out orange jack-o’-lantern-themed garbage bags.

When you have fun, there will be lots of garbage,” the singer said. “I want to see people in the streets fill the bags in a kawaii (cute) way.

The event formed part of a campaign dubbed “Halloween & Tokyo,” under the slogan of “cleanest Halloween in the world.”

The bags were handed out near stations and large road crossings in busy districts such as Shibuya, Shinjuku and Roppongi.

During last year’s boisterous Halloween celebrations, a large quantity of litter, such as drink cans, were thrown on the ground by revelers, prompting the metropolitan government to launch this year’s campaign.

Cosplaying taxis with monster drivers to offer free rides to cosplayers in Shibuya (Tokyo) this Halloween

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RocketNews 24 (by Oona McGee):

Halloween in Japan keeps getting bigger and better every year, with cosplayers coming out in droves to celebrate the world of costumes and make-believe. This time around, Japanese car manufacturer Nissan is joining the fun with a fleet of taxis dressed up in Halloween costumes, complete with “monster drivers” behind the wheel.

The monsters and their vehicles will be helping fellow ogres and ghouls by offering free rides to people in costume in the Shibuya area on October 29 and 31. What’s more, the unusual vans promise to be so spacious, they’ll accommodate any type of outfit you’re wearing!

The event, called “Ride on Halloween by Nissan”, will feature three “costumed” vehicles: an orange Jack-o-Lantern, a purple-and-green Frankenstein (‘Frankenstein’s Monster’ for the purists), and a pale-brown, bandaged Mummy.

▼ They may be monsters, but they’re Japanese taxi-driving monsters, so they’ll all be wearing white gloves.

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The promotion is designed to showcase the spacious nature of Nissan’s NV200 taxi, which has been ferrying people around New York and London for several years and will finally be making its debut in Japan as part of the preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

▼ New York marked the debut of the NV200 taxi with a #HAILYES interactive marketing campaign in 2013.

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In Japan, they’re using Halloween to highlight the roomy interior of the new taxis, by offering the free rides to cosplayers to show how a van ride can be superior to a sedan ride, especially when you and your clothes take up a extra space. The driver of each vehicle will also take part in the dress-up!

You can catch a ride at three as-yet-unannounced designated pick-up and drop-off points in the Shibuya area, which is one of the main hubs for Halloween celebrations every year.

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The taxis will run between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on 29 and 31 October. The organisers have pointed out that free rides are limited only to those in costume and rides cannot be guaranteed, so if you really want to step inside the cosplaying vehicles, you might want to try your luck before the night of Halloween, when there’s less chance of monsters lurking about.

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The pick-up and drop-off points will be announced soon, so be sure to check out the official campaign website for updates!

Japan’s biggest Yakuza organization, the Yamaguchi-clan, cancels Halloween

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The Daily Beast (by Jake Adelstein): 

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It’s been over a month since Japan’s largest organized crime group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, split into two rival factions, and, ever since, people here have been waiting for something to go bump (or be bumped off) in the night.

But it appears the first victim in the looming gang war is nothing more or less than the gang’s annual Halloween festivities, which had become a yearly event at the Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters in Kobe.

Each Oct. 31, the gangsters famous for their permanent costumes (tattoos, missing digits and the like) invited ordinary citizens, mostly small children in “scary” outfits, to have fun with extortion, demanding Japanese candies and snacks.

In front of the Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters—and yes, all of Japan’s designated mafia groups have well-known headquarters—a sign has been posted in Japanese noting the cancellation of the annual trick-or-treat exchanges:

Every year on October 31st, as per custom, we have held a Halloween [event], but this year, due to various circumstances, the event has been called off. We realize this is causing great regret to those parents and children who looked forward to this, but next year we absolutely will hold the event, so please look forward to it. In great haste, we humbly inform you of this.

The 6th Generation Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters.

The Sankei Shimbun was the first to report these unhappy tidings on Oct. 21, but all through Kobe, certainly, the sad news was reverberating.

It might surprise many in the West that a notorious syndicate which makes its money through blackmail, racketeering, extortion, and other crimes distributed candy to the neighborhood children each year, but the custom fits a pattern.

The Yamaguchi-gumi has been in business since 1915, when it first began as a temporary staffing agency on the docks of Kobe, a port city. The Yamaguchi-gumi has always tried to cultivate good relations with the locals, hosting an annual rice cake-making event at the start of the year in which the gang distributes food and booze to the locals.

In the past, the group even followed a New Year’s tradition of giving o-toshi-damato children who came to visit, o-toshi-dama essentially being envelopes full of cash with ornate New Year’s greetings written on them.

A little money buys a lot of good will. And after the Kobe earthquake in 1995 and the great disaster of March 2011, the earthquake and tsunami and Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown, the Yamaguchi-gumi was quick to provide aid in the form of blankets, food, water, and shelter.

The police label such organizations boryokudan—violent groups—but the Yamaguchi-gumi still insists that it is a humanitarian organization providing discipline and homes to social outcasts, and dispensing street justice. Most of its victims and the police would disagree with that definition.

It’s not clear when the Yamaguchi-gumi began celebrating Halloween, but Kobe is an international city where, in some neighborhoods, a U.S.-like traditional Halloween has taken root. One Kobe resident in her thirties, who prefers not to be named saying anything related to the Yamaguchi-gumi, tells The Daily Beast she remembers her international school classmates paying Halloween visits to the headquarters even 20 years ago. She says that the first time her classmates went shouting “trick or treat,” the hapless yakuza who answered the doorbell was utterly befuddled. After trying to figure out what to do, he ended up giving each of the children 1000-yen bills ($10) and told them to go away.

And thus, perhaps, a tradition began.

The Yamaguchi-gumi, like any corporation that has lasted over 100 years, is certainly PR savvy. The official policy of the organization is to give no on-the-record interviews by active members. However, the organization allows yakuza fanzines to photograph events and in October of 2011, the Sankei Shimbun printed an on-the-record interview with the 6th generation leader of the group, Kenichi Shinoda aka Shinobu Tsukasa, in which he explained the rationale of the group’s existence and justified its legality.

There was no official response from the Yamaguchi-gumi on why this year’s festivities had been canceled, but a low-ranking underboss told The Daily Beast over the phone that “Trouble is brewing with the breakaway faction, the so-called ‘Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi,’ and we don’t want to take a chance that some innocent child is embroiled in violence. That would be unforgivable.”

Atsushi Mizoguchi, Japan’s foremost expert on the Yamaguchi-gumi, said that he believed the Yamaguchi-gumi split would result in all yakuza losing power and might herald the end of the yakuza themselves.

Speaking at a press conference last week, Hideaki Kubori, a lawyer specializing in dealing with yakuza related problems, said, “There was a time when the yakuza were thought to be a necessary evil. They aren’t necessary anymore.”

This may be true, but for some Kobe trick-or-treaters the group would be missed.

A veteran detective with the Hyogo Police Department, speaking privately, is skeptical of the announcement. “It’s a way for the Yamaguchi-gumi to remind people that the old guard has always been careful to get along with the local populace and that they’re not all bad.”

He added, “It’s a very cost-efficient form of PR for them. The candy is cheap and they don’t even need to spend money on costumes. Most of them have faces so scary already that they look like monsters without doing anything at all.”

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Nissin’s Japanese instant foods get a Halloween makeover in four limited-edition products

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RocketNews 24:

With Halloween becoming an increasingly recognized event in Japan, we’re sure to be seeing plenty of products featuring pumpkins, black cats, ghosts and witches in shops across Japan as we enter the month of October. And the instant food market is no exception to the trend, as Nissin Foods, known around the world for their Cup Noodles, come out this month with four unique Halloween-themed instant food products.

That’s right, you can be sure to get a taste of Halloween this year, even if you have no time to cook!

Supermarkets and convenience stores in Japan may feel just a little bit “darker” than usual, as four Halloween items in distinct black packages come on sale from Nissin starting October 5. You’ll be able to choose from cup noodles, risotto, udon noodles and yakisoba noodles, and the packaging even comes illustrated with cute original Nissin characters like “Pumpkin Mask”, “Gourmet Witch” and “Count Dracula”.

Let’s take a look at the line-up of Nissin’s instant Halloween foods:

▼ Here’s the “Cup Noodle Pumpkin Potage Flavor.” The instant noodles we’re all familiar with have been combined with a soup containing the sweetness of pumpkin and the rich flavor of cheese. The ingredients used include pumpkin, cheddar cheese, carrots and cabbage.
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▼ And this is the “Cup Noodle Risotto Pumpkin Potage Flavor.” If you’re not in the mood for noodles, this item contains rice instead of noodles in the same pumpkin-and-cheese soup.Untitled 2

The other two items don’t exactly use Halloween related ingredients, but they’ve been created with a black color theme to get you into the Halloween spirit.

▼This “Donbei Black Curry Udon” features the usual thick Donbei udon noodles known for their chewy texture, along with a rich, dark pork-based curry flavored soup containing dried minced meat, potatoes, carrots and negi leeks.

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▼ The “Nissin Yakisoba U.F.O. Squid Ink Flavor” is a variation of the popular U.F.O. Yakisoba fried noodles in a black squid ink (Ikasumi) flavor with some anchovy flavoring and red pepper added to give the taste a little spice and depth.

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So, was there an item that caught your fancy in particular? We think the pumpkin potage soup certainly sounds tasty. (But then again, many Japanese people have a soft spot for anything pumpkin, chestnut or sweet potato flavored, especially during autumn.)

Well, whichever one might appeal to you the most, one thing that’s certain is that you’ll be able to (kind of) get into the Halloween spirit in minutes with these instant foods. Maybe you can even have an “Instant Halloween Party” with the items—that’s one party where the cooking certainly won’t be a hassle. Plus, All the noodle items will be priced at 180 yen (US$1.50), while the risotto will cost 220 yen ($1.83), so it’ll be easy on your wallet as well. To everyone trying the Nissin Halloween line-up this autumn, have a happy and haunted instant dining experience!

Burger King Japan’s black burgers are coming to the US just in time for Halloween

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Burger King will be celebrating Halloween by putting some terrifying black-colored buns on its Whoppers.

Business Insider:

Burger King Japan‘s black burgers are coming to the US. The burgers, a variation of a type that launched in Japan last year, are rolling out in late October for Halloween, according to a source who works for Burger King.

The sandwiches will feature black buns and a Whopper patty topped with A1 Steak Sauce, cheese, pickles, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes, and onion.

News of the burger’s US launch was first reported by a Reddit user claiming to have access to Burger King’s internal website. Unlike the black burgers released in Japan, the US version doesn’t have black cheese or squid-ink sauce.

The black cheese made the burger in Japan look pretty unappetizing. Here’s an ad for the burgers that launched last year:

Black burger Burger King