Subscribe
Trick-or-treaters enter the Dragon Vale housing area at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, Oct. 31, 2021.

Trick-or-treaters enter the Dragon Vale housing area at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, Oct. 31, 2021. (Jeremy Graham/U.S. Navy)

Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See more stories here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.

TOKYO — Stock up on candy, carve those pumpkins and get your costumes ready because Halloween is coming back strong this year on U.S. military bases in Japan.

The COVID-19 pandemic declared by the World Health Organization more than 2 ½ years ago dampened Halloween spirits and curtailed traditional costume parties and trick-or-treating.

This year, many military commands in Japan are shedding prohibitions to accommodate group activities like spooky bowling nights, haunted houses and increased numbers of local guests.

However, bases on Okinawa are limiting their Halloween activities to base personnel only while emphasizing safe practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

At Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, one sponsor may bring as many as 10 trick-or-treaters on base 5-9 p.m. Saturday. Last year, sponsors could invite five guests.

“We are looking forward to celebrating another year of Halloween, and the Trick-or-Treat tradition with members of our community,” Staff Sgt. Juan Torres Chardon, a spokesman for 374th Airlift Wing, told Stars and Stripes via email Tuesday.

Eligible sponsors include Defense Department ID cardholders and Japanese base employees — master labor contracts and indirect hires — as well as members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force at Yokota, Torres Chardon said.

Air Force spouse Lisa Ricci, 35, of Charleston, S.C., said she and her daughters, ages 8 and 9, are excited about sharing the holiday.

“I think it is awesome,” she told Stars and Stripes on Monday at her Yokota home. “The Japanese have their traditions, but this is a great way for the community to bond on something.”

Zama zombies

At Camp Zama, the headquarters of U.S. Army Japan about 20 miles south of Yokota, eligible sponsors may welcome up to 28 guests onto the base or the Sagamihara Family Housing Area from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 31, Amber Kurka, a spokeswoman for U.S. Army Garrison Japan, told Stars and Stripes by email Monday.

This is the first year since 2019 that Halloween guests are permitted on the Army installations for trick-or-treating, she said.

Eligible sponsors, including Japanese employees and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, may bring up to seven adult guests. Each of those adults can bring up to three children under age 18 with them.

Camp Zama required sponsors to obtain installation passes by Wednesday for all guests 18 and older.

“U.S. Army Garrison Japan is excited to be able to host events this year that are traditionally popular for our community, friends and neighbors,” Kurka said.

A soldier gives out Halloween candy during a trunk-or-treat event at Sagamihara General Depot, Japan,  Oct. 24, 2018.

A soldier gives out Halloween candy during a trunk-or-treat event at Sagamihara General Depot, Japan, Oct. 24, 2018. (Noriko Kudo/U.S. Army)

Yokosuka ghosts

At Yokosuka Naval Base, the homeport of the U.S. 7th Fleet southwest of Tokyo, local children are welcomed again on base after two years of pandemic restrictions.

Eligible residents and base employees may bring up to four guests on the base or the Ikego Housing Detachment for trick-or-treating 4:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 31, base spokesman Randall Baucom told Stars and Stripes by email Monday.

“It gives an opportunity for our Japanese partners to participate in this American tradition,” he said.

For the past two years at Yokosuka only the children of individuals covered by the status of forces agreement, typically Americans in uniform or DOD civilian employees, could trick-or-treat on base, he said.

This year, SOFA members may invite guests under Yokosuka’s normal guest policy, which is based on rank or position, Baucom said. Japanese employees may bring as many as four guests.

Sasebo spirits

At Sasebo Naval Base in southern Japan, the Hario Village, Dragon Vale and Fiddler’s Green housing areas will be open for trick-or-treating 5-8 p.m. Oct. 31, base spokesman Aki Nichols told Stars and Stripes by phone Wednesday.

Visitors from the surrounding communities may enter the base without an escort provided they present a valid, government-issued ID. Children ages 12 and older must show a school ID or be escorted by an adult age 18 or older with a valid ID.

“We expect to have a good turn out this year,” Nichols said.

Trick-or-treaters collect candy at the Dragon Vale housing area near Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, Oct. 31, 2021.

Trick-or-treaters collect candy at the Dragon Vale housing area near Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, Oct. 31, 2021. (Jeremy Graham/U.S. Navy)

Eerie Okinawa

Installations on Okinawa, still mindful of the coronavirus, are planning Halloween events for base residents only.

Kadena Air Base has scheduled trick-or-treating for 5-8 p.m. Oct. 31, according to the base’s official Facebook page.

“Halloween will look a bit different this year, so we’re providing official guidance which capitalizes on social distancing, hygiene, and protecting each other, the mission, and the Okinawan community,” the post said.

On Marine base Camp Lester, a haunted house and trunk-or-treat event in which base residents decorate the trunks of their cars, are scheduled 6-8 p.m. Saturday at Lester Middle School. Anyone with base access may take part. Camp Foster plans a similar event, Mardie Marqueze-Velasquez, the base’s USO center manager, told Stars and Stripes by phone Wednesday.

Stars and Stripes reporters Frank Andrews and Jonathan Snyder contributed to this report.

author picture
Kelly Agee is a reporter and photographer at Yokota Air Base, Japan, who has served in the U.S. Navy for 10 years. She is a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program alumna and is working toward her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland Global Campus. Her previous Navy assignments have taken her to Greece, Okinawa, and aboard the USS Nimitz.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up