Halloween Horror

October 20, 2009

Tonight I watched a Japanese horror movie. I’m not a big fan of horror movies, but I am a big fan of Sawajiri Erika, so I thought I’d give it a try. The movie was called Otoshimono (Dropped Items). The movie was exactly how I thought it was going to be just from watching the preview. I came up with my own alternate titles of what I would have called it in English. “Lost and Found,” “I Wouldn’t Touch That if I Were You,” and “Hey, You Dropped Something” came out on the top of the list. If there was a point to the movie, it was the proverbial “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.” Pick something up, try to give it back to someone, and you will undoubtedly get run over by a train or ripped apart by moaning zombies.

A note about zombies. Here I was, watching a movie with hundreds of the undead climbing around on the walls of a hidden tunnel next to the subway line, and I found myself screaming “Oh, c’mon! She totally wouldn’t fall through a hole like that. That was so unreal.” Unreal? I’m watching a movie about zombies.

Anyway, it’s October, and that means Halloween. At least it does if you are an event planner like I am. I just got done throwing my first big event here in Miyakonojo – the 2009 Halloween party! It was a roaring success. Literally, I roared. But it was a good roar.

I dressed up as Domo-kun, the mascot for NHK (the Japanese public broadcasting system). Wouldn’t you know it, a reporter from NHK showed up to film the party and interview people. Heh. Anyway, my costume was amazing, thanks to the tremendous help of my friend Yuko. I also received an overwhelming amount of help for the party from the ALTs living in the area. Hopefully this is the start of many good things to come.

We also had a Halloween activities area at the recent Human Rights Sympathy Plaza here in Miyakonojo. That translation seems kind of funny to me, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it means. Anyway, we had a table set up where kids could draw Jack-o-Lantern faces on paper pumpkins, fill out Halloween-themed mazes, and get their faces painted. We also had a pumpkin bowling alley where kids could throw a basketball covered with felt to look like a Jack-o-Lantern and try to knock down a bunch of plastic soda bottles that were painted to look like skeletons and ghosts. We didn’t have a huge amount of people show up, but I’d still say it was a success for the people who came.

The day before that (yes, I’m working my way backwards chronologically here), we had the yakiniku carnival! Yakiniku is cooked meat. Miyakonojo is the leading producer of beef, chicken, and pork in all of Japan. How about that. That explains all the cows and pigs being trucked by my apartment every morning. Anyway, this event is basically just a big party where everyone gets together outside and sits around on the grass while grilling up some meat. You buy a tray of meat from the people running the event and then cook it on the grill at your table after a couple guys come buy and fill your grill with charcoal from a smoldering wheelbarrow. Man, Japan sure knows how to party.

I had my first middle school visit a little while back and it was very different from elementary schools. Everyone was silent, afraid to stand out in front of the class, and I was quite sad to see the crushed spirits and lost innocence of these youth who would never be young again. Bullying is a big deal, probably even more so here in Japan than in American middle schools, so everyone does their best to be as ordinary and unassuming as possible in order not to be singled out and picked on. It breaks my heart.

I had my first interpreting job yesterday at city hall (yeah, skipped back to recent news again, I know). A group of five businessmen and women from Finland came here through a Rotary Club sponsored trip (what exactly is this Rotary Club, anyway? They’re so mysterious and powerful…). I didn’t have to do much, because they had all prepared their self-introductions in Japanese and read little cheat sheets with Japanese written in the Roman alphabet, but I did get a free meal out of the evening interpretation (although I had to gulp it down between speeches) and I got to meet some cool people. The chairman of the board, whom I had met earlier at a speech my friend Ecchan gave to the Rotary Club, approached me after the event and told me suddenly that he was happy to hang out with me anytime because I would never be popular with Japanese women so he felt safe with me. WHAT?!? It’s my beard, he explained to me frankly. “Japanese women don’t like beards. You can grow one after you get married, but you’ll never find a girl unless you get rid of that beard now. Well, older women, maybe, if you don’t mind the really old ones.” I wonder. Do I stay true to my personal image and keep the beard, remaining the eternal bachelor? Hmm, we’ll see.

They changed out the drinks in the vending machine near the department where I work in the city hall, so now we’re all set up and ready to go with hot drinks as well. This must mean it’s officially fall. I’ve been wearing long sleeve shirts to work now and I also caught a little cold the other day after recovering from the Halloween party. Time marches on, and the seasons come and go. It’s still beautiful here.



  1. -Rambling on

    Beards huh, I’m doomed then too, maybe. Glad the party went well! Japanese schools are definitely interesting and sad at the same time, it is a very odd cultural trend (at least to my American sense-abilities). Oh yakiniku!

    -Rambling off

  2. It’s good that you are not inhibited by the conformity standards of the middle schools! I don’t think many young Japanese men can easily grow beards, so that might be one reason for the cultural difference. I know the Ainu grew long beards. Maybe the girls think you are Ainu (but too tall). The school conformity thing is something mentioned in several books about experiences in Japan, of course. Maybe you can change that!

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