As if everyday in NAG wasn’t freaky enough, along comes Halloween to freak it up even more!
There are very few instances in modern history of the rest of the world following where Ireland leads. The European smoking ban is one. Terrorism on the British mainland another. Putting green food dye into lager to appease tourists on Paddy’s day one more. However Halloween, originally a Celtic belief not unlike the premise of Shaun of the Dead, is one tradition that has, since being shanghaied by American marketing men, swept the globe striking fear into hearts and spiking sales of fake blood wherever it goes.
But what about Japan? Surprisingly Halloween has been slow to take off on these shores.
Yet, at long last, Japan has taken up Halloween, and they’ve not merely played with it tentatively like America did the metric system. No, they’ve fully embraced it and, well, it’s no surprise really. This is a country where kooky and kitch are hardwired into the nation’s DNA, any excuse to dress up is pounced upon and any opportunity to lie face down, vomit-streaked in a gutter is positively encouraged. But of course, like the other western holidays that have been assimilated into Japanese culture, there is a new slant, with new rules and, as a visitor here, it is best you follow them.
Don’t Trick or Treat
Just as Christmas in Japan has been adopted by lovesick teenagers in KFC, a different demographic enjoy Halloween here. In Japan it’s High School kids and adults who dress up and go to parties, and the little ones rarely get a look in. Unlike in the States and increasingly elsewhere, you won’t see hordes of children prowling the street, pillowcases full of sweets, gorging endlessly on a diabetes inducing rainbow of candies, e-numbered to the tits, a single psyche evaluation away from a course of Ritalin. But who can blame them? In the US there are Twizzlers, candy corn and Hershey’s Kisses. In England there are Sherbet Dip Dabs, Jelly Babies and Liquorice Allsorts. What do Japanese kids get? Bean paste. Fucking bean paste. Oh, and Mochi. Can you imagine giving mochi to your average American brat kid? “Oh, it’s made from rice, is it?” You’d be cleaning the toilet paper from your house for weeks.
Don’t dress offensively
Of course the Japanese dress-up. They go mad for a bit of cosplay, don’t they? But now it’s your time to shrine. You have years of Halloween dress-up experience, and you’re finger is so archly balanced on the zeitgeist’s pulse, that you never fail to have the most hilarious and culturally relevant costumes. Your Vampire Sarah Pailin was a gas. Your acrobatic impersonation of the Arab Spring was a hoot, and then there was your Swinging Saddam complete with full beard and noose accompaniment which wet more pants than the Incontinents Anonymous’ annual Christmas piss up. And now you’re in Japan, and you feel like sending up the locals? Well, go for it. A Vampire Sumo might be fun. Maybe a Zombie Geisha. What about a Minion of Hell(o) Kitty? But don’t forget to stay the right side of respectful. A Morning-After Kamikaze pilot is out. Mutant Fukushima Child is not funny. Oh and, just as ‘blacking up’ back home is in poor taste of the highest order, wearing false teeth, drawing ‘slanty’ eyes and going “Herro, herro prease!” is not cool. Not cool at all.
Not everyone is into Halloween
It happens to us all sometimes. What we think of as an act of kindness can cause massive offence. Maybe you expressed horror and concern at the massive bruise on a baby’s head, only to be informed that it is a birthmark, with the child for life. You may have given up your seat on a bus for a pregnant woman only to be met with a tirade of abuse and a dawning realisation that she merely has a weight problem. Well, these pitfalls are all around us during Halloween in Nagoya. The major problem is when approaching someone of whose fancy dress you admire. Always keep in mind that this is Japan, a nation in which, unless you are wearing a school uniform or a sober business suit, the likelihood is that your day-to-day getup is so ostentatious that it would give Lady Gaga an aneurism. So, when commending a young lady on her crazy maid outfit, or asking the guys outside Sunshine Sakae where they got their funny shoes and wigs from, ask yourself one question: are there copious amounts of fake blood? If not, keep your trap shut. They may smile at your well meaning compliments, but they’re crying on the inside, crying.
Do always ask for ID
Like much of the western world, come Halloween, Nagoya’s nightclubs will be heaving with guys and girls looking to hook up. How this differs from your average weekend is that on Halloween there is the unwritten, yet oft-quoted, rule that Halloween is the one day of the year that a woman can leave the house wearing little more than negligee and bunny ears without her friends calling her a slag behind her back. Not only is this behaviour accepted on Halloween, it’s damn well expected. So with all this flesh on display, the nightclubs of Nagoya will positively hum with sexual frisson, and hope of a conquest will be high. Conversely, what will not be high, is the average age in these nightclubs. No, much of Nagoya’s youth may be taking advantage of the masks and heavy makeup to blag their way into places they may ordinarily fear to wander. Therefore, be alert, be certain and, if in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask for ID, because otherwise it could be the nonce wing of a Japanese prison for you. Now, did that beauty accompanying you home say “I’m a sexy schoolgirl” or “I’m dressed as a sexy schoolgirl?” Rather than splitting hairs, those two critically important words could be the difference between a fun night and becoming the prison bitch of a man affectionately known as “Where’s the soap Watanabe”!.