Like Taking Candy from a Japanese Kid


After I returned from Thailand, “Halloween” was the buzzword at school. The spider gel gems are up on the windows, the pumpkins are out, and after each class, the staff members remind the kids and students that Halloween is coming soon and they should wear a costume to class!

“Ehhhhhhhh????” grouse the students.

Halloween exists in Japan, but it is by no means a given. Some of the stores sell Halloween costumes here and there are “Happy Halloween” signs up in places but for all I’ve heard my students talk about it (which is to say not at all) I venture a guess that Halloween exists at all here to a) sell candy and costumes and b) give Western ex-pats a more familiar reason to get drunk. For some of the younger students, coming to our school is the first time they’ve heard of it or had any reason to dress up, thus the grousing when the staff shows them pictures of Halloweens past – confused-looking children wearing witch costumes, bunny ears, or Spider-man masks, flanked by teachers whose costume ideas are totally lost on most of their students.

As for me, I don’t care why it exists. Halloween is by far my favorite holiday and I will take it any way I can get it. I was thrilled to learn that our school teaches Halloween and can’t wait to wear my costume – whatever that might be. Today’s shopping trip to Loft in Shinsaibashi will have the answers.

I do have one complaint about Halloween at my schools. At any of them, there are countless plastic pumpkins to be found on desks and tables. In America, even weeks before Halloween hits, a plastic pumpkin can only mean “candy” so I have, on a number of occasions, dashed to the nearest orange plastic pumpkin and thrust my hand inside, searching for, perhaps, mini packets of Pocky Sticks, Crunky bars, or Pure gummies.

Yet, the plastic pumpkins are always empty.

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