Now that everyone has had five or six days (depending on your time zone) to recover from Halloween, I suppose it’s time to blog about it. Since age 16, I have spent essentially every Halloween on UNC-Chapel Hill’s one and only Franklin Street. Therefore, one cannot blame me for having unrealistically high expectations of the holiday. However, surprisingly, Japan fared quite well in the comparison.
It all started in late September when I began noticing a jack-o-lantern here and a witch hat there. In mid-October, there were literally Halloween decorations everywhere: stores, restaurants, hair salons, you name it. Soon, I realized that the majority of Japanese people had not adopted Halloween traditions, but they were curious and fascinated by them.
My first Halloween celebration took place on the Thursday before October 31. I hosted a Halloween party for the four students in English Speaking Society. I gave each of them Halloween goody bags with candy, costumes, cookies and orange Fanta (naturally).
During the Halloween celebration, we created Halloween tombstones. We wrote exaggerated poems about the deaths of ourselves and some of the English teachers. For example, “Here lies Katie who died in a soccer game. She injured her head and forgot her name,” or another, copyright my brilliant student, “Here lies sensei who was loved by all. He tried to climb Mt. Fuji, but his legs were too small.”
Although these poems were hilarious to me and my students, it should be noted, that all people may not understand the intention. After using the tombstones to decorate, my supervisor gently informed me that they were one of my many failed attempts to be funny in Japan. Whoops.
After getting into the spirit at school, I hit the road to Hiroshima City to celebrate with my friends. From a zebra and a shrimp to a magic carpet and a pumpkin man, everyone’s costumes were prime time. Two of my lovely friends and I dressed as the three blind mice. With ears, glasses and canes, we wandered aimlessly around the city all night!
So, Halloween in Japan was actually quite the event. Because it is not widely celebrated, many Japanese people are intrigued by and excited about Halloween. Such curiosity added to the build up of Halloween. Also, I have never heard “trick or treat” so many times in my life.