Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween from Japan!

I don't know how big Halloween is around here. At Toys-R-Us, they've already started putting out Christmas trees and decorations, replacing the display of pumpkins and witch hats. A few trees downtown already glitter with blue holiday lights at night.

But apparently, something wicked is a-brewin' in Tokyo, specifically in Shinjuku. Getting drunk and exposing yourself in a train station is a far cry from the way we celebrated Halloween back home.... by getting drunk and not exposing ourselves. Although the "naked guy" costume always seemed to be a hit, garnering more photo requests than any other. On the other hand, I advise you to avoid dressing like Hunter S. Thompson unless you want to shake a thousand sweaty hands and have people running up to you and shouting, "Watch out! This is bat country!" all night.

According to my highly inaccurate polling methods "ghost" is costume choice number 1 in Japan, followed by "witch" and "pumpkin." I think I didn't make it clear enough that you could choose any costume beyond just the three main Halloween icons. Those who naturally think outside the iconography-box chose "pirate" (for hanging out with Johnny Depp).

Tonight, Cartoon Network will offer Halloween-themed episodes of the various cartoons they air here (including the 1966 classic It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!), while Fox Japan will show what they call the "Cosplay Halloween" episode of Bones, where Bones dresses up in a Wonder Woman outfit.

My favorite Japanese ghost story is Toire no Hanako-san, or "Hanako's Toilet." This is one of those urban legend type stories that are sometimes told as true, although I've yet to find anyone of any age who believes in it. Hanako is a girl who either committed suicide or was murdered in a school bathroom, and her vengeful spirit continues to haunt the stall where she died. It's even inspired a series of horror films, one of which (or more... I need to do more research) starred Maeda Ai, sister of Maeda Aki who is best known as good-girl Noriko in the ultraviolent cult classic Battle Royale.

And that's Halloween from Japan!

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