No other Western holiday, transferred to the shores of Asia, annoys me more than Halloween. Here in Japan, though your occasional kindergarten might hold Halloween events, the holiday seems to be reserved for 20 something Japanese pseudo-eccentrics and patisseries looking to make a buck. There are Halloween themed nomikais (drinking parties), and Halloween hook ups (just like on Christmas Eve – I know, disgusting right?). But one thing you most certainly won’t see is children knocking on doors, trick or treating.
Japanese as a society, although famously safe, possesses very little social trust. It would be highly unusual for anyone, child or adult, to knock on a neighbor’s door at an unspecified time in the evening and ask for anything – even if a local custom/festival allowed for such wanton behavior. The closest here in Hokkaido, might be Tanabata, where supposedly children go singing door to door, receiving sweets along the way. Despite reassurances that this is a real regional custom, I have yet to see any child doing this on Tanabata, and the custom may only survive in a few small villages (if at all).
So as a whole, Halloween is an excuse for “young” adults to act a fool, drink, and cosplay away from the prescribed make-believe zones in Harajuku. For the rest of Japanese society it means orange and black shopping mall decorations put up way too early, like mid September early, and cake shops busting out the orange food dye while jacking up the prices on Halloween themed cupcakes.
Where are the masked children rampaging through neighborhoods with an old pillowcase overflowing with candy? Where is the gluttony? Where is the post Halloween sugar high?
Alas my biggest pet peeve this time of year is the dreaded foreign resident Halloween enthusiast who feels the need to go way over the top with their preparations. They’ll lament about the difficulty in finding a decent orange pumpkin, while causing a stir at the local elementary school, arriving at class in full Dracula garb. Because it’s cultural, right? Trust me, your school principle is not pleased. And besides, isn’t being the only non-Japanese person within a 10 block radius enough to draw sufficient attention to yourself? Did you really need the fake axe impaled in your back to prove your still connected to your homeland?