Saturday night was Halloween Party Blowout night in Japan, just as it surely was in the United States. Apropos of my post last week, Reuters News Service today runs a story about the Japanese obsession with American holidays like Halloween.
“Japanese people like festivals very much, you see. We even celebrate Christmas, but we don’t celebrate Christ, we just enjoy,” says Yoshiaki Ei, an affable entrepreneur wearing jeans and a blue long-sleeve T-shirt. Mainstream clubs advertise “Fetish Halloween” and “Erotica Halloween” parties. Fashion retailers decorate their windows with slogans such as “Play! Party! With cute trick!” Japan’s passion for Halloween extends a long tradition of festivals that liberate ordinary Japanese from the extreme control they face in everyday life, according to Patrick William Galbraith, a researcher at Sophia University’s Japanese Studies faculty.
There was no shortage of said liberating going on among the raucous crowd of Japanese and Westerners aboard the Fukui International Club’s Halloween Party Train Saturday night. We all climbed onto a local train the club had tricked out with a sound system and party decorations – even a disco ball – and spent two and a half hours riding the local railways to throbbing dance music, chugging sake and Asahi beer, and communicating in the international language of costume-wearing intoxicated people everywhere. Lessons learned during the evening: 1) it’s basically impossible to take a picture with no flash in a rocking train filled with jostling, dancing revelers, 2) in the future, stay far, far away from Japanese tequila.