Cuteness, thy name is All Hallows’ Eve At The ends Of The Earth, and in thee art expedited many a child’s sugar addled dreams !
The build-up to Halloween in Japan is just as deliberate as the way we build up to Christmas in Europe, though, perhaps, less grand and Mariah Carey plays a less prominent role. Still, there are decorations everywhere and, on the day itself, white-faced people (at least) are greeted warmly with “Happy Halloween” or “Trick-or-treat”. T’was the season, after all.
One of the ladies I teach for invited me to the Halloween party she throws every year in a local community centre. It was utterly charming, nay enchanting, nay bewitching. The wee ‘uns were extremely excited and had put a lot of effort into their costumes (I went to the 100yen shop and bought a cape and borrowed Sarah-chan’s lipstick to put some fake blood on my face) and even more effort into the pumpkin decorating competition. I had been warned, apologetically, that ‘Japanese pumpkins’ were not as big as British ones (I have no clue) so I should not expect great things. But bless ‘em, the tykes had done their best and there were some really gruesome creations on show. The mind boggles at how the whole place was not burned to a ground when those mini-candles were lit at the epicentre of so much flammable material.
I had spent two weeks teaching these kids ‘Halloween vocabulary’, such as ‘vampire’, ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘candies’, and it paid off when they were all challenged to identify the pictures on their ‘halloween advent calendars’. I know: I too feel cheated that for 22 years I was in ignorance of this concept.
The night ended in a sugar rush, with the mums, and me and Sarah-chan, lining up with sacks full of glucose-gorging goodies to hand out. The kids lined up and shouted ‘trick-or-treat’ at us, and did not take kindly to my attempts at wit in replying ‘trick’. Their bemused faces said, “shut up and fork over the good stuff, Engrish”. And comply I did.
It was cute, it was theatrical and it was completely useless for their English speaking abilities, but still: what could be more fun than a traditional western Halloween ey?