How to Make Japanese Halloween Costumes

Illustration by Ryn Gargulinski

Vampires, witches, devils and ghosts can get so predictable as Halloween costumes. But you can make a new spin, and wow the crowd, when you dress up as something Japanese. You can make Japanese Halloween costumes with clothing items you may already have around the house or can find very easily at thrift or even department stores. Before you know it, all the vampires, witches, devils and ghosts will be bowing to you, as is the culture’s custom, when you make Japanese Halloween costumes.

Be a geisha. Wear a long skirt or dress topped with a kimono. You can find a bath robe that resembles a kimono or order an inexpensive one online. Pull all your hair into a top-knot bun, wear a straight, black wig, or slick all your hair back, securing at the top of your head. Add cat’s eye eyeliner, a bright lipstick and very pale white face powder. Grab an Oriental fan and you’re good to go.

Go sumo. If you are incredibly daring, go shirtless and tie a black sash around your waist, with a square black scarf or piece of fabric tucked in the waistband in the front and back to cover your privates. Wear a pair of shorts underneath that cannot be seen under the scarves. Don a flesh colored shirt and tights if it’s cold or you’re embarrassed. Slick hair up into a top knot bun or wear a short black wig.

Strike it up as a samurai. Find a long, silk bathrobe, preferably red, and find a long, rectangular scarf that can be draped around your shoulders with the two ends meeting in front of your chest. Tie a sash around your waist to secure the scarf in place. Tie another sash around your hairline as a makeshift headband. Get a plastic samurai sword or hook one up with cardboard and silver paint.

Mimic a ninja. Dress in a black long-sleeved shirt, long pants and simple shoes and pull a ninja hood over your face. You can imitate a ninja mask with a black, nylon ski mask or even wrap scarves to achieve the desired effect. Rubber band the scarves at the back of your head so only your eyes peek out. Find a plastic sword and paint it black or use black cardboard cut into a sword shape.


  • Simple black slippers work as shoes for all these costumes. A long black wig, sold everywhere during Halloween, will help top off the costumes. Rather than wear the wig draped down like a witch, pull the hair to the top of your head and wrap it into a bun. Secure with bobby pins. Add crisscrossed chop sticks through the bun for additional oomph.