I Think I'm Turning Japanese

Last weekend was Halloween! It felt like it snuck on me fairly quickly, particulary because there wasn't an excess of gaudy Halloween displays in stores and houses and apartments weren't bedecked with fake cobwebs and pumpkins on the front stoop. It kills the child inside just a little bit, I must admit. I also didn't get around to even thinking of what I could dress up as for Halloween.

 A year ago I was sending frantic emails back and forth with friends about our big Halloween plans at the Regency Center in the city, and scouring party supply stores for the perfect accessories for my and Ted's Mario and Luigi costumes.

 This year the extent of my costume shopping involved me running into Tokyo Hands at 8:29 when they closed at 8:30, running up to the non-slutty costume area (which also happened to house a bunch of Christmas costumes... be prepared to see me elaborately dressed as a Christmas tree at all my Holiday parties at home), and grabbing the first costume I could find. The entire process took all of 3 minutes, and within that time I went from "Oh shit, what can I be that doesn't have to be preceeded by the words 'slutty/sexy'" (ie- "Sexy Nemo, slutty robot, sexy horse, slutty pumpkin) to "I'm gonna be a panda!"

I am pleased with my costume decision for many reasons: 1) pandas are ridiculously cute 2) the costume covers my entire body, thus it will keep me warm while my sexy-costumed friends are freezing 3) I can wear it to support Sandoval when I go home to watch Giants games 4) I can probably wear it while skiing and be the coolest person on the slopes. Just you watch.

There weren't any huge plans for the weekend, so most of the JETs went to the Polo Dog in Sannomiya. It was only my second time there, and it was packed. My friend Bridget was DJing, and it's always fun to see the Hanayama and Port Islanders that you don't get to run into every day. Most of the costumes were pretty good, but I have to admit it all felt a bit half-assed to me. Don't get me wrong; it was a hell of a night, but I think the absence of my close friends making me laugh till I had cramps kind of put a damper on the night. Sure, maybe it was homesickness. Anyway, I had a great time, but being claustrophobic and a bit of an old lady these days, I didn't stay much past 11 and managed to make my way home at a decent hour, reeking of cigarettes and Jager. And then I came home to my empty apartment and started thinking about what makes (or should make) Halloween awesome every time.

The greatest thing about Halloween is the blatant disregard for dental hygiene (and possible diabetes), if only for a night. Eat a whole candy bar? Sure. Oh, another? Oh heck, why not! We're celebrating the hallows, right? Oh, and a jawbreaker before bed? What would ghosts and gouls do? They'd say heck yes! And then you're left laying on your bed surrounded by candy wrappers and twitching from the diabetic shock, and your teeth are left to rot over night because you can't get yourself to get out of your panda costume and brush your teeth.
No? Just me?

Ok, I'll be honest, this year that WASN'T me (praise Jeebus), but not necessarily because of sheer willpower. Japan seems to be going through a centuries-long epidemic. It's called "candyreallyisn'tabigdeal-itis." When asking students in class if they like candy, maybe only 3 or 4 kids raise their hands. And when explaining the idea of "trick-or-treat" to them, they have the most confused looks on their faces, because first of all, why are you being so greedy, and second of all, what the shit are you going to do with a bag full of candy? It doesn't make sense. Add that to the fact that candy in the stores is kind of expensive, and you can see why I wasn't able to throw myself into a hyperglycemic coma.

The next best thing about Halloween is having any excuse to scare the pants off anyone, yourself included. We watch scary movies, go to haunted houses, pop out of coffins, have motion-activated Halloween decorations... it's ridiculous! And it works! Although Japan is pretty good at the horror movie thing (see Ringu), the fact that many of my students couldn't grasp why I was talking about scary things made me a bit sad. They just thought Halloween was about jack-o-lanterns and costumes. I had to explain why we first started celebrating Halloween, and how scary things have all become part of the territory. So when I asked my ichi-nensei students to design a scary Halloween character (after showing them many examples and having them all exclaim over how scary they were), I got a whole lot of smiling happy sunshiney anime characters. Where was the blood and the skulls and the rotting carcassiness? 

Le sigh.

Well, at least I am coming to appreciate things more, both at home and here in Japan.

Happy belated Halloween, everyone!
I was wrong, I guess. Pandas are incredibly sexy.
11/7/2010 06:13:09 am

I love the sexy surprise at the end. It really made my day. :)

11/7/2010 06:36:11 am

I love the panda costume! Can you bring it back for me so I can wear it next year? :)

11/7/2010 01:44:34 pm

Halloween is truly a North American event.
All the other countries just copy us but the intensity is not as much, as you well noted. When you have your own kids, that Panda costume will work well for you - it's super cute! Sexy - it isn't...unless it's viewed by a boy Panda (I guess)


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