Wednesday, November 7, 2007


November 7, 2007

Okay, it’s a week after Halloween and I’m sufficiently over the trauma enough to write about it. Yes, it was traumatic for the parents – fun for kids and traumatic for parents.
First of all, the last time we went trick-or-treating with the kids in Tokyo was October 2004. At that time, Sydney was 2 and Bailey was 5. It was the first time that the “gai-jin” (foreigner) area of Tokyo was celebrating Halloween and it was lovely. There was a route-map put out by a few people in the Moto-Azabu area and it listed about 15 homes that would be receptive to children ringing their doorbells. It was a wonderful afternoon/evening.
This time was quite different. Apparently, Halloween has caught on in Tokyo – especially in this area. For all of October, there were pumpkin and candy displays in all of the shops – even the convenience stores. There were pumpkins for sale at the flower shops. There were even Halloween items for sale in various places – costumes, etc.
We were invited to a party at our friends the McHugh’s house. Ann and Shaun are Americans and they have three kids – their daughter is 10, their son is 7 and their little daughter is 2. They intended to have a light dinner for the kids before trick-or-treating. When I showed up with Bailey after his speed stacking class (yes, they stack plastic cups for sport…more on that another time…) there were already a few people there. Minnie arrived with Sydney a few minutes later. Ahem, I mean that Minnie arrived with TINKERBELL a few minutes later. Bailey quickly changed into his Obi Won Kenobi costume and was quickly joined by a Luke Skywalker, Anakin Skywalker and a Darth Vader or two thrown in for good measure. Can you see the boys’ theme? Well, it turns out that there were 35 kids at Saint Ann’s house, along with about 20 adults. Next year, if she does it again, I am buying her a halo.
We all ate and laughed for about 90 minutes. Ann had pizza, a fantastic chicken salad, fruit, veggies – simple and kid-friendly stuff that was still yummy for adults. There were, of course, proper drinks (read: wine and beer) for the adults. One of the reasons Ann takes it upon herself to do this is that her apartment is right in the center of Moto-Azabu, where the expats live and the kids want to trick-or-treat. So we knew that when we went out, we’d be able to get to the proper houses right away.
Then we took to the streets. I don’t know what I expected, but this wasn’t it. There were throngs of people. No, that doesn’t adequately describe it. There were hundreds of people. There were Japanese people, European people, American people and I’m sure some Africans for good measure. There were children of all ages and a myriad of accompanying adults. The frightening thing is that since all of the kids were in costume, there really wasn’t a definitive method of necessarily telling who was who and we couldn’t tell kids apart in some cases. Some Japanese people were out with little babies dressed in wee costumes that looked mighty uncomfortable to me. But the majority of the throng was still white people looking to have a little bit of home in their away-from-home lives. In addition, we were out on city streets for heavens sake, and there were cars with which to contend, few as they were. There were a number of times where other mothers joined me in screaming at the top of my lungs “Car!! Move to the side of the street!!”
We all tried to stay together with our friends, but it really proved to be impossible as we snaked through the streets, searching for lights that were on outside of houses, indicating friendliness to trick-or-treaters. At every house we had to push the kids forward into the fray so they could muscle their way to the door and get some candy. I still have no clue if they ever uttered the words “trick or treat’ or if they ever said thank you. There was no way that Marc and I were going to get into the middle of the mix of munchkins. Thank goodness for Minnie – she was so excited to be out there with the kids that she kept a tight rein on Sydney and we could easily follow Bailey because he often checked back with us. Marc’s and my roles were to follow. It was utter chaos until we had had enough. As we neared our neighborhood, we told the kids that it was time to go inside. They hit a few houses right near ours, said goodbye to whichever few friends were near them and we scurried into the safety and relative quiet of our own home.
I had put a bowl of candy out on our front step in apology for not being home, but since our house is up a hill and not precisely on the route, only half of it was gone. I knew some people who ran out of candy after the 200th guest. My friend and landlady, Yumi, told me that they bussed in children from outlying areas because they knew that our little section of the city has all of the expats and would have the candy ready for them. This is very very different from our last experience of Tokyo Halloween. And it’s extremely different from my lovely neighborhood party and relatively sedate trick-or-treating.
So now we’re done with it for a year and I will be more mentally prepared next time. We still have a big bowl full of candy, much to my diet’s chagrin, but the kids are good at not over-doing it all at once.
I know that in the States you will now start the run-up to Thanksgiving and then the countdown ‘til Christmas. I will be thinking of you as you do it. It’s quite interesting to be away at this time of year.

Wishing you calm and peace-
Aimee (writing with a glass of wine on the desk beside her…)

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