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The walking dead march on Tokyo for Halloween

Zombies have descended on the Japanese capital, Tokyo. Halloween, with its roots stretching back hundreds of years in Christian countries, is a relatively recent import to Buddhist and Shintoist Japan.

About 1,200 people made themselves up to march on Tokyo Tower - the capital's most iconic landmark - on Thursday in a "zombie attack" organized by the Japan branch of Fox International Channels to mark the beginning in the country of Season 4 of the popular TV show "The Walking Dead." The motley crowd offered enough sickly and wounded undead to give unsuspecting shoppers lasting nightmares, or worse.

"Our only concern is that somebody might see all these zombies and have a heart attack," said Dan Smith, a Fox producer who thought up the stunt.

Traditionally in Christianity, Halloween celebrates the night before All Hallows' Day, though observations tend to run secular nowadays. Japan also strips Halloween of religious meaning, but the holiday has thrived over the past decade or so as a fancy dress celebration, with parties and parades, and now parades of partying zombies.

"I think Halloween has taken root as a real seasonal event in Japan," said Tsuyoshi Sawada, a spokesman at Tokyo Tower, where visitors were being given witches' hats or axes.

Chad Rowan, who wrestled under the name of Akebono and became Japanese sumo's first ever foreign grand champion, led the march.

"It's great to be doing this in Tokyo," said Rowan, dressed in black with his face made up to look like he had two large gashes on his forehead. "It's so unusual to be able to do something like this here."

mkg/rc (AFP, AP)