Friday, December 17, 2010

BOO! Halloween in 青森

The western tradition of ハロウィン (Halloween) is slowly creeping its way into Japanese culture. Currently Halloween is limited to pumpkin themed decorations and school sponsored costume activities for young children. The idea of Halloween as a sinful, guilt-free party seems to only occupy areas where foreigners reside in full force, such as Tokyo's Roppongi ward. 青森県 (Aomori prefecture) in Japan's rural north consequently lacks in 外国人 (foreigners). But  that didn't stop a dozen english teachers from properly celebrating All Hallow's Eve.

Traditionally, a Halloween party is hosted by local charity Everest of Apples in the city of Hachinohe. This costume party is a popular event for the foreign population but usually lacks in natives. This year was different, and in 青森市 a public party was held at One-Shot Bar, a newly established 'western' bar owned by a former Tohoku Jet Ski champion.

It was delightful fun to see an equal mixture of stranges, local and foreign alike. Though, if there had been a costume contest, the Japanese would have came in dead last. Most Japanese just wear a hat or add an accessory. The ladies become a witch, and the men become Santa. Though, I don't think the lack of costume creativity has anything to do with the shy reserved nature of Japanese culture. While Party City would be a welcome addition, the Japanese are costume specialists. Most Karaoke parlors offer a selection of costumes to wear, women often transform into maids or school girls, and full body pajamas are made to look like Winnie the Pooh or Stich. In addition, it's hard to ignore cos players in Harajuku on Sunday.
If ex-pats continue to dress up children in costumes, and entice adults towards mischief, Japan will naturally adopt Halloween. I just hope trick-or-treating can eventually walk its way into the neighborhood.

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