By Yoshie, voice over talent at www.japanesevoiceover.jp
When I was a child, I’ve never heard of Halloween. Maybe it was when I was a university student in the late1990s I saw cute orange pumpkin goods at a Sanrio shop (variety stores which sells Hello Kitty goods etc.) in Kyoto. I didn’t understand why Kitty had converted to Satan. But before too long, I found Japanese were accepting the new event “Halloween”.
About 10 years ago I saw a dozen kids were walking around the street and I heard them shouting something in front of my next-door neighbor’s house. I noticed that that was Halloween “ trick or treat” as they were dressed in monster costumes. I was so scared as they might attack my house and I was thinking about how I should behave when they knocked my door. I would be embarrassed to tackle those kids and I didn’t even have any sweets for them. I saw my next-door neighbor gave some treats to them and then the weird kids passed by my house and went somewhere. I was relieved as I didn’t have to treat them to glasses of tap water.
After then I noticed it was just a school activity and the houses they visited had been all decided, which was each student’s home. But it was the first time and the last time I’ve seen kid’s “trick or treat” event in Japan. I guess kids are also embarrassed as they are too shy to do such a thing.
Yet there will be lots of Halloween parties held at pubs here in Kyoto. You can see drunken girls dressed in sexy black and orange costume who are waiting for cute princes to pick them up in the streets at night. And next day those pumpkin girls would be rolling into work suffering from hungover.
Pumpkin is a symbol connected to Halloween. But pumpkin is actually good for health. On the winter solstice day in the middle of December, at some temples in my hometown Kyoto, they distribute Kabocha no nimoto (boiled pumpkin with soy sauce, sake, and sugar) dish to visitors to the temple for free. This event is called Kabocha-kuyou which literally means “pumping memorial service”. I don’t know why they call it “memorial service” but it is more enjoyable service. Anyway they provide Kabocha dish to pray for visitors’ perfect health. Yes, pumpkin is rich in carotene and makes your body warm.
I’d rather enjoy having hot Kabocha no nimono than becoming a pumpkin.