Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Last weekend I had the best halloween ever! Well being the first time I actually celebrate halloween, dressing up and going out, its pretty understandable, but it was definitely an incredible halloween I'm sure. What can compare to a loop around Tokyo's Yamanote Line, in a train full of people in costumes, having fun, chatting, chanting, and meeting new friends.
Our first plan was to have an outdoor party at Yoyogi Park, and then head to some club for the rest of the night. But a Typhoon decided to visit Tokyo for the weekend, so an outdoor party was out of question. For our luck, Alisa found out about this crazy unofficial mob halloween event held every year in Osaka and Tokyo, so after seeing some videos from previous events, and wondering whether it was safe or right to join or not, I decided to give it a try with some friends,and judge by myself.
So our night started at Alisa's place, where I finished dressing up (putting some leaves around my feet and arms, putting green make up in my face, and getting ready to go~) and then head out to Tokyo! In our first stop, a convenience store for some food and drinks, we couldnt stop smiling to each other seeing the reaction of the people who saw us, or the cashier who avoid to look at my eyes all the time! (though that is actually usual in Japan, but I guess it was reinforced by the fact she wouldnt like to look at my eyes and laugh, cause it would be seen as "shiturei" by japanese standards... but come on! I am wearing a costume, the idea is to make you laugh!)
After that we head to Shibuya to meet other friends, so there we were a tree, a pirate and the devil, in the middle of Tokyo's world famous crossing, under the eyes of all these people. Happily after a short wait, we ran up into another tree! and had a nice chat while waiting for our friends. Meanwhile, Japanese people will simply look at us, and a group of boys actually came to say "otsukaresama desu" to me... (otsukaresama is an expression "used to acknowledge someone's efforts or show your appreciation for the trouble that they have gone though" (I had to google that cause I always have trouble explaining japanese expressions :p) but its an expression that is usually used when you finish work instead of saying "goodbye" or when go back home after doing some work or meeting at the uni or even with some friends) which then again felt weird at the moment, cause "tsukare" actually literally means "tired", but know that I see it as "acknowleding someone's efforts" actually doesnt sound too bad.... :p
anyway, after a while my friend Mone arrived, with her in-pajamas ladies friends, so NOW we were being stared. lol
After going for some drinks in a cafe (inside a bookstore! just imagine 8 people in costume walking along the corridors of a bookstore with people reading books around, and you may understand how funny the whole experience was) we headed to Shinjuku, were the infamous Yamanote Halloween Train Party starts... we were there 10 minutes before the scheduled (by who knows who?) departure time, and there was already around 20 people in costume waiting in the platform. So we made our way to them, met some, then again looking for other friends who were joining us from Shinjuku, and so, in the next 10 minutes the platform went from 20 people in costume, to be completely FULL of people in costume, chatting, drinking, making noise, while waiting for the right train to arrive.
and so, there it was, "densha mairimaaaaaasssss gochui kudasai", the Yamanote Halloween Train welcoming us, for the only time in the year where you actually can totally enjoy a full-train. Remember the famous images of train station staff pushing people so that doors can close during the rush hours? well that's just how full our train was... and the train staff actually was ready to push us all in, in order to let the trains run smoothly on time (though they were already deleted because of the typhoon) which seemed to be their only concern (not the fact that there was around 500 crazy people in costume having a party in the train...).
The leaves in my head appear somewhere around the middle of this video... :p
and so in we went, for the best round-the-loop ride of the year, chanting station names (there is a lot of fans of ikebukuro, akihabara, tokyo (of course!), and even gotanda?), taking pics, going around meeting new people and so on. We actually changed cars (in the same train) once and it was so surprising cause after being in such a crazy full of people one, this one seems so empty, even when there was quite a few people in costume chatting and all... :)
And so after a little bit longer than an hour, we were back in Shinjuku, saying goodbye to our lovely Halloween train, the crowd dispersing (very slowly cause everyone (specially usual commuters waiting for their train) wanted to take pictures with everyone) and heading to clubs around Tokyo for the rest of the night...
now, I know there is a lot of conflicting views on this train party, which was one of the reasons I wanted to go and see it for myself, before bashing it out as some crazy gaijins (infamous foreigners here in Japan) abusing the japanese system. And I can say after living it by myself, that even when a few people might do obviously go too far, the whole event in itself is just a great way of celebrating halloween, creating bounds between Japanese and Foreigner participants (and even non-participants who mostly are either so surprised they cant even react, or who enjoy the surprise in a usually monotonous train ride), thanking Yamanote line, the japanese train system, and Japan in itself for being soooo wonderful! and in the end just having an out of the ordinary fun time (something really necessary in Japan).
and to prove that... here is a video for you to compare...