Sunday, October 31, 2010
Two Halloweens in one day
by Larry Geller
Halloween (October 31) is the anniversary of the day we came to stay in Hawaii. Strange to report, we had two of them on the day we arrived.
We left Tokyo on an overnight flight, after a final dinner in Roppongi, an entertainment district popular with both foreigners and Japanese.
Halloween in Roppongi was a trip. While Japanese businessmen and “office ladies” visited bars and restaurants in business attire, some of the foreign community was out on the streets in rather elaborate Halloween costume. Many lived in Roppongi or nearby, so their kids might be in tow. It wasn’t “trick or treat,” it was party time.
The strange foreign antics were occasionally the subject of Japanese newspaper or weekly magazine articles. If you could read the language, you’d learn of the Celtic pagan roots of modern Halloween practices. That spirits of the underworld would return to earth was not a strange concept in Japan. Obon, a summer holiday held at a particular time, not throughout the season as it has morphed in Hawaii, was similar enough.
Pumpkins and candy apples were reported as evidence that the holiday is associated with harvest rituals, again, nothing strange to the Japanese.
There was occasional reference to efforts of one Christian church or another to stamp out Halloween as a pagan ritual or usurp it as All Saints Day. The articles were mostly entertainment rather than serious analyses, and often factually questionable. There were few Japanese Christians and the prancing, becostumed foreigners were just amusement, as were the articles explaining their behavior.
Roppongi was one great fun-fest for the kids and a party opportunity for their parents.
It was all in full swing as we left for the airport.
In Hawaii, we settled in to our hotel. It was morning of the same day we left Tokyo. Of course, Halloween happened all over again that night. The hotel was decorated with spray cobwebs and probably all those plastic bats and electric pumpkins. Kinda cheap, compared with the elaborate props in Roppongi.
So we had two Halloweens on our arrival anniversary. And we’ll be going out today to celebrate, but just once.