Many of my friends back home have been surprised to hear that Halloween is celebrated in Japan, too. But, like many other things, if it’s good enough for America, then it’s good enough for Japan. In fact, I think a lot of the things you can buy (costumes, toys, sweets etc.) come directly from America as imported goods. And the whole affair is a very commercial one.
A couple of months ago at school, we were all told that we would have to dress up for Halloween for an entire week. This struck me as a little strange, given that it was a regular week at school, but I was excited to dress up all the same. We were also told that on October 24th (the night before Halloween week began) we would have to stay late to decorate the school.
When October 24th came, I was quite surprised at what I saw! All of a sudden I felt like I was in The Nightmare Before Christmas! Boxes of orange and black tinsel and paper decorations appeared in the corridors, costumes, hats and wigs were strewn about the lobby, and we were all climbing on chairs, desperately trying to pin, stick and staple Halloween decorations to every available corner of the school. It looked a bit over-the-top by the time we had finished, I thought, but there was no mistaking that Halloween had arrived!
Costumes, decorations and trinkets have been appearing in the shops now for a few weeks, and when I was in Hiroshima back in September I stumbled upon a cute witches hat hairband that I picked up for the occasion. Based on this, I found a purple and black witches costume in Tokyu Hands, and my mum sent me some tights from England to complete the costume. I had to adapt the costume a little, as even the biggest size wasn’t wide enough for my back, and there was no way tights from Japan would ever fit me, but it wasn’t too difficult to get a costume together really. I was very excited to see what the other teachers and staff would be wearing, and the students, too! We told all the kids that they had to come in costume, and that if they did they could ‘trick or treat’ us at the end of their lessons. We aren’t allowed to give sweets to kids, so instead we decided to give away Halloween shaped erasers.
I’m constantly amazed by the willingness to participate that I always see at school, and never more so than this week! Kids, adults, everyone has been arriving in costumes, or diving straight for the dress-up box and donning school stuff. I’ve seen everything from kids dressed in sheets (classic!) to salary men ripping off their jackets and climbing into a full body Totoro outfit! I only wish I could post some of the pictures I’ve taken, as there are some real classics in there. But it’s against the rules to post pictures of staff and students, or talk about the company by name, so you’ll just have to trust me that it’s been very, very cool indeed!
One thing I have noticed in particular about Halloween in Japan, is that you don’t seem to be able to buy big orange pumpkins for carving! So, instead of carving pumpkins, we seem to have buy teeny tiny ones and stick faces on them:
They actually come with the stickers though, which I think is pretty cool. I just love the colour of these pumpkins! I have one at school and one at home! 🙂 Also, the pumpkins you can buy here for eating are green! And yet all of the commercial stuff still features orange pumpkins, of course.
I’ve seen many weird and wonderful Halloween-related things in Japan so far, but nothing quite as cool as I found on this site here. I just love the bento boxes, and I wish I had found some of those Kit Kats for my collection! One of my students taught me to make origami pumpkins, but I’m still perfecting it. They’re a bit square at the moment…
Of course, there are many wonderful things to be eaten for Halloween, including pumpkin danish:
and pumpkin melon pan:
Japanese/Halloween twists on the classic breakfast foods, and I have to say they’re very yummy! Both have a kind of pumpkin jam filling. Yum!
Naturally, Kitty gets in on the act, too:
…and… I suppose I should show you my costume!