Wearing a ghost costume on Halloween may be cliché. But taking a page from a Japanese ghost story can help you pull off a costume of a scary, but sad Japanese dead woman for a unique and quite different holiday look. Japanese ghost stories -- both historic and modern -- often incorporate religious and cultural beliefs, such as ghosts that haunt those who sinned against them in life. Japanese ghosts often have sad pasts, so remember to make your Japanese woman ghost costume both scary and sad; dress as a beautiful Japanese woman ghost.
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Wear a white kimono or a white dress. White, not black, is traditionally associated with death in Japan. In fact, Japanese brides traditionally wear white kimonos only to symbolise a break from their families as they join new families, i.e., as a symbolic death. If you're aiming to be a traditional Japanese woman ghost, wear a white kimono with long sleeves. Modern Japanese ghosts, such as the fictional Sadako from the movie "Ring," still wear white; you can wear a white, baggy dress if hoping to look more modern.
Purchase a long black wig. A Japanese woman ghost usually has long, black hair worn messily across her face. In "Ring," Sadako has hair that completely covers her face. Traditional ghosts such as Oiwa and Okiku either wear their long black hair down, like Sadako, or up in traditional Japanese fashion, but still looking unkempt.
Paint on white facial make-up. Japanese ghosts are pale and their skin is a deathly hue. You may want to opt for a yellowish white instead of a pure white.
Brush on dark eye make-up. To help accentuate the dead look, make the eye area a focal point on your face; even if you wear hair over your face, the bits that peek through should be chilling to complete your costume. Wear thick black eyeliner and dark black eyeshadow.
Tips and warnings
- Put dirt stains on your white kimono or dress and hands. Japanese female ghosts such as Sadako from "Ring" and Okiku from "Banchou Sarayashiki" climb out of Japanese wells. Your Japanese ghost may be covered in dirt as well.
- Put blood stains on your clothing, face or arms. Oiwa from "Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan" has a disfigured, bloody face.
- Be respectful of the Japanese culture and of other people when you dress as a dead Japanese woman. Wear the costume at appropriate gatherings.
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- "UC Davis"; From Scrolls to Moving Pictures: Iconographic Ghost Imagery from Pre-Modern Japan to the Contemporary Horror Film; Sara L. Sumpter; 2006
- "Pacific University Oregon"; The Anthropology of Fear: Learning About Japan Through Horror Games; Chris Pruett; November 2010
- "Ohio State University"; Exhibitions Wedding Traditions; January 10 - April 11, 1998
- "Slanted"; 8 Asian-Themed Halloween Costume Ideas; October 18, 2010
- "MatthewMeyer.net"; A-Yokai-A-Day: Oiwa (The Ghost Story of Yotsuya); Matthew Meyer; October 31, 2010