The novel coronavirus has impacted a wide array of businesses, ranging from restaurants to movie theaters. As theme parks start to reopen in Japan, there are new rules. Universal Studios Japan doesn’t want guests to scream on roller coasters, for example, while haunted houses will use social distancing and masks.
During the summer, people in Japan enjoy going to haunted houses (obakeyashiki in Japanese), because they send a chill down the spine. Moreover, August is the month when ancestral spirits return home, so in Japan, the summer has traditionally had scary connotations.
But with Halloween now mainstream in Japan, obakeyashiki also offer fall-time frights.
As this news report points out, the haunted house cast members are now supposed to be quiet, but speakers emitting creepy sound effects and screams are a logical workaround.
The bright white masks are kind of a distraction!
But masks can be covered with fake blood or obscured with other masks.
Ghouls aren’t supposed to get close, either.
There are other ideas for haunted houses, including an online obakeyashiki and even “drive-in” haunted houses, with zombies and the undead scaring people in parked cars.
In my experience, really good haunted houses don’t necessarily need cast members getting close and play up the that feeling of dread as you make your way through. Some Japanese haunted houses don’t even have actors, but just displays and mannequins.
But getting covid-19 is scarier than any frights the haunted house could throw your way. Stay safe this summer and fall.