This year’s costumes at the Quartz office Halloween party tended towards the classic: a Girl Scout, Princess Leia (and Yoda the dog), Weird Al Yankovic. (The costumes of visiting children, lured in by the promise of desk-side trick-or-treating, were similarly wholesome—a tiny fireman, a human strawberry, BB8—albeit rather more adorable.)
But maybe next year, we should keep it even simpler: lower effort, higher concept. Both are key to the glorious mundanity of ‘jimi’ Halloween, a grassroots Japanese craze that embraces costumes that recreate the banality of everyday Japanese life rather than flashy fancy dress. (‘Jimi’ means sober, plain, or understated.) Think a man at a hotel breakfast buffet, someone who’s recently spilled coffee down their front, or a white tourist who has accidentally bought dog snacks at a Japanese supermarket.
Since 2014, hundreds of people have gathered at an annual event in Shibuya, Tokyo, to show off their ingenious creations. The trend went global this year, after Twitter user Mulboyne, who lives in Tokyo, started to tweet photographs of his favorite examples. “I first heard of this event a couple of years ago but only ever saw one or two characters, and didn’t really understand what they were doing,” he told the Guardian. He stumbled across more online, much to his delight. “They seemed so clever, and many were a great reflection of the way Japanese people can be keen observers of tics, foibles, and minor social dilemmas.”
The best examples aren’t always the most obvious—an actor in his 20s who’s been drafted to play a high school student, for instance, or a model from a cheap Korean fashion mail order site, complete with posey, faraway gaze. You won’t need to change in the office bathroom, either. These are the sort of costumes you could wear on the subway without attracting attention—but which might just make you the belle of the ball, once you explain what you’re supposed to be.
Left, the person in charge of emptying the office shredder. Right, man at a hotel breakfast buffet.