Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

Tabloid dissects Halloween's 'unnatural popularity'

43 Comments

In anticipation for Halloween night in Shibuya, the Tokyo Metropolitan police will be out in force. The 800 officers dispatched to the area are a 4-fold increase over last year. During which, notes Nikkan Gendai (Oct 28), only two people were arrested.

This is, after all, only supposed to be fun for the kids, and the sight of middle-aged adults decked out in costumes is likely to be an even bigger turnoff than the sight of real ghosts or zombies, the writer remarks tongue-in-cheek.

What the heck is going on -- with all those giggling ghouls gallivanting about Tokyo?

"At times when the masses are shaken by extreme events, Japanese will want to dance or hold festivals," notes history author Kozo Kaku. This may go toward explaining the unnatural popularity of Halloween."

Kaku thinks Halloween may be a contemporary version of what was known as the "Ee ja nai ka" movement. A refrain in popular songs that translates as "Who gives a damn?" or "What the hell?" "Ee ja nai ka" caught on during spontaneous social/political protests in the mid-1860s, near the end of the Edo Period.

"During those uncertain times, people would put on outlandish costumes and cavort crazily in the streets," Kaku explains. "While North Americans or Europeans would confront uncertainties or social inequality with demonstrations or riots, Japanese would try to relieve their anxieties by dancing, reflecting an old belief that noisy worship can win forgiveness for people under a curse.

"So rather than attacking others, people just work up a good sweat by dancing and by so doing dispel their anxieties."

Although unrelated to Halloween, the popularity of "danceable" popular songs by Tetsuya Komuro in the late 1990s and Hikaru Utada from the beginning of the century -- both periods of economic slumps, may confirm this theory.

"If you look at it from another perspective, Halloween's popularity in Japan may reflect the prescience that the world is getting worse and worse," Kaku points out. "There are things like the new defense guidelines, or the introduction of the My Number system, or the prospect that life will become more difficult due to higher taxes and so on, and when viewed together, suggest that life is on a downward spiral.

"People feel more vulnerable, and their response to this is to take to the streets and dance."

It may seem a bit far-fetched, but just think, for a moment: wouldn't groups of costumed revelers in Shibuya on Saturday make a dandy target for international terrorists? Nikkan Gendai (Oct 30) refuses to rule it out. True, the police are expected to mobilize 800 officers, but that is aimed merely at keeping the exuberant youth in line.

"As one example, on October 25, a violent melee broke out between Turks and Kurds outside the Turkish embassy," says a police source. "The mere fact that large numbers of foreigners will be converging for Halloween is one more reason why we have to be on guard for possible acts of terrorism,"

Motoaki Kamiura, an authority on military affairs, agrees that Saturday night would be an opportune time for someone to make trouble. And since people are costumed, "it becomes impossible to tell Japanese apart from foreigners. Likewise it will be all the more difficult to spot someone carrying a suspicious package."

Kamiura also notes that with Islamic State fighters and their sympathizers spreading to the far corners of the globe, acts like suicide bombings cannot necessarily be ruled out, even in Japan.

Hopefully this Halloween night, something wicked won't be coming.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

43 Comments
Login to comment

“So rather than attacking others, people just work up a good sweat by dancing and by so doing dispel their anxieties.”

I wish the rest of the rioting world would latch on to this...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

“The mere fact that large numbers of foreigners will be converging for Halloween is one more reason why we have to be on guard for possible acts of terrorism,” Motoaki Kamiura, an authority on military affairs, agrees that Saturday night would be an opportune time for someone to make trouble. And since people are costumed, “it becomes impossible to tell Japanese apart from foreigners.

And here, we are, the xenophobic racism that was the real driving purpose behind this stupid article.

29 ( +32 / -4 )

I can certainly identify with the alleged sentiment that motivates Kaku's hypothesis. Don't know if dressing up and dancing would dispel it though. Let's give it a try.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

since people are costumed, “it becomes impossible to tell Japanese apart from foreigners.

This makes me wish every day were Halloween in Japan.

Given the impossibility in identifying non-Japanese people, All Hallows' Eve must be a particularly frightening day for Japan's extremist uyoku types. Boo!

11 ( +15 / -4 )

And since people are costumed, “it becomes impossible to tell Japanese apart from foreigners.

Since terrorism in Japan is almost always committed by the Japanese, I fail to see how this is a relevant statement.

20 ( +21 / -2 )

There are various LOGICAL reasons why Halloween has become so popular in Japan. Many Japanese love 'cosplay'. Businesses wants to capitalise on it. Or simply people just want to have some fun, especially the kids.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

It's popular because it's fun. Same reason it's popular in other countries where it's popular.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

This is nothing like the Ee Ja Naika movement. Totally cheap comparison.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

800 police officers in Shibuya? If this were a traditional festival (probably with much more people) how many officers would be assigned? Must be that "unnatural popularity".

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The 800 officers dispatched to the area are a 4-fold increase over last year.

Police overkill as usual and a complete waste of tax-payer money.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The mere fact that large numbers of foreigners will be converging for Halloween is one more reason why we have to be on guard for possible acts of terrorism

This is nonsense. The turks/kurd brawl had (has) Nothing to do with Halloween.

“People feel more vulnerable, and their response to this is to take to the streets and dance.”

Also, nothing to do with Halloween.

“If you look at it from another perspective, Halloween’s popularity in Japan may reflect thee prescience that the world is getting worse and worse,”

How dare the author to make Good ole' fashioned Halloween Fun synonymous in this way!!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I'd love to invite Kozo Kaku and Motoaki Kamiura to dinner at the same time. That is, right about the time I want the other guests to go home. I'm sure they could empty a room in mere seconds with the combined wonder of their joyful joint approach to life.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's actually interesting to see how people are making efforts to explain the phenomenon in social, religious, historical, etc. terms. It's a windfall for retailers, true, but I've been here a long time and never expected to see Halloween get this big. Of course I was completely wrong about home pizza delivery succeeding here as well. As a doctor friend of mine once remarked, "Never, never underestimate the Japanese."

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Key word here in this article being "tabloid"

8 ( +8 / -0 )

“The mere fact that large numbers of foreigners will be converging for Halloween is one more reason why we have to be on guard for possible acts of terrorism,”

Because so far, all the acts of terror committed in this country WEREN'T from Japanese right? Only foreigners?

gimmeafrigginbreak.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Because so far, all the acts of terror committed in this country WEREN'T from Japanese right? Only foreigners?

@crustpunker, agree with you. '95 Sain Gas Attack ring anyone's bell? Gimmeafrigginbreak too. It's gona be a safe n' sane Halloween 2nite in Shibuya.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

800 police officers in Shibuya? If this were a traditional festival (probably with much more people) how many officers would be assigned?

paulinusa@Shibuya is a major rail terminal and commercial area, and doesn't have much experience with traditional festivals (which are well organized by the local community as Japanese are wont to do) be held in such a place. People just converge on Shibuya to have fun and the amorphous nature of the crowd caused some anxiety last year.

Kawasaki City's Halloween festivities are sponsored by the Cittadella cinema complex and coordinated with the city, with specific times announced well in advance for diverting traffic, etc. That takes some of the spontaneity out of the event, unfortunately. Perhaps by next year Shibuya will be encouraged to come up with a plan to facilitate better crowd control.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

...'unnatural popularity'...In a society that is nearly worked to death and loves cosplay. This is a perfect day, you get see mass cosplay and let your hair down so to speak. I see nothing unnatural about it, just people having a safe and good time to release some the stress from their daily grind.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

“If you look at it from another perspective, Halloween’s popularity in Japan may reflect the prescience that the world is getting worse and worse,” Kaku points out.

Uh, no. It's just a fun way to express your creativity and enjoy indulging yourself...Ever heard of Cos-play? I predicted Halloween's popularity in Japan years ago when I saw how popular Cos-play had become. With hundreds of young people gathering in Yoyogi to show off their hand-made costumes...it was obvious that Halloween would be a perfect fit. Halloween's popularity in Japan (as elsewhere) is driven by young people's exuberance and appetite for play...the obtuseness of some Japanese pundits never ceases to amaze me...

6 ( +7 / -1 )

“While North Americans or Europeans would confront uncertainties or social inequality with demonstrations or riots, Japanese would try to relieve their anxieties by dancing, reflecting an old belief that noisy worship can win forgiveness for people under a curse.

Hey, excuse me, you owe many of the social and political freedoms you enjoy today to those Europeans and North Americans who demonstrated on the streets.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

What is this guy talking about? Does he think Japan is the only culture that danced in the street to relieve anxiety!? The only difference is that in Japan they lack the will and guts to protest and demonstrate for social reform. It's not a dance in the street instead of protest, it's can't protest so dance in the streets - other cultures do both.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

KnowBetterOCT. 31, 2015 - 07:17AM JST “So rather than attacking others, people just work up a good sweat by dancing and by so doing dispel their anxieties.” I wish the rest of the rioting world would latch on to this...

Yeah... But nothing ever changes that way, does it? Folks just keep dancing to the same old tune.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The accompanying pic reminds me of Japanese kids' "unnatural" ability to look as glum as hell in almost every photo.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

“The mere fact that large numbers of foreigners will be converging for Halloween is one more reason why we have to be on guard for possible acts of terrorism”

Screw this guy. It's so obvious that it needn't be explained, but the vast majority of foreigners are not terrorists, and most who are in Japan are here because we love Japan, no matter how much people like this police guy make us sometimes question that love.

Not to mention, there have most certainly been Japanese domestic terrorists, lest we forget Shoko Asahara.

Just let people enjoy Halloween because it's fun and stop trying to be such a wet blanket...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Japan is a very tight, controlled, and conformist country for the most part. Imagine one night where you can be express yourself and go crazy while hiding behind a mask. Why wouldn't this be popular. Who needs candy?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

"Although unrelated to Halloween, the popularity of “danceable” popular songs by Tetsuya Komuro in the late 1990s and Hikaru Utada from the beginning of the century—both periods of economic slumps, may confirm this theory."

Yes, because danceable songs were never popular during other eras in Japan. :-( YMO and other artists might have a problem with this assumption. Also, I believe Komuro's popular was more from early to mid 90s, not late-90s.

This article sounds like a student that was assigned a topic (Halloween) and he had to make a deadline no matter what.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The people need to be accommodated, not have riot police thrown at them to spoil everyone's fun. Such a typical reaction.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Boooooo!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Or maybe they like Halloween in Japan because its fun and retailers latched onto something they can sell.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

A couple of things still missing:

1) Going to school classes dressed up in your Halloween costumes!

2) Haunted houses, or decorating your house to look scary for the kids!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The police in Japan just hate to see young people having fun. And since young people having fun are easier to crack down on than yakuza, they are all over it.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The bottom line is that Halloween is a foreign concept still not accepted by a majority of the Japanese population. And making it some sort of threat to order or national security issue by the authorities reveals a logic that's difficult to comprehend.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The quality of this article was right there with the word tabloid.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Hi. I'm Kozo Kaku and I do not understand the concept of "fun."

Luckily, my friend Motoaki Kamiura is here to explain how this "fun" if actually a foreign plot to weaken security and disrupt the harmony of the Japanese state.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

danalawton1

Or maybe they like Halloween in Japan because its fun and retailers latched onto something they can sell.

Please don't let obvious facts get in the way of bizarre, xenophobic rants by delusional "history authors"!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As an Aussie, I hate it when people say "Happy Halloween" as Im not bloody American !! But Japan is a hotch potch of other countries so I say let them do what they want...

The only problem with Halloween's 'unnatural popularity' here is that its typically Japanese for a so called newspaper to dissect something because they see it as un-natural or foregin.

Oh for gods sake Japan, just let it go

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japan is like the perfect place for Halloween. I'm surprised Halloween has just started picking up in here when Japan is the Cosplay Mecca. And what do taxes, my number and stuff have to do with Halloween? These people have no clue what they're talking about.

Kamiura also notes that with Islamic State fighters and their sympathizers spreading to the far corners of the globe, acts like suicide bombings cannot necessarily be ruled out, even in Japan.

I do agree with that sentence, tho. An act of terrorism could happen anywhere anytime. Which is why authorities should keep vigilant at airports, etc. 24/7.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Is this a nationally published article or did a page from his diary get misplaced?!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think you have to be vigilant or very vigilant all the time, all your life without getting paranoid about it. Be careful where you walk, some places have more dog excrement on the pavement than others be careful nevertheless. Halloween is okay but I wish the furore didn't start weeks before, like Christmas. It destroys the magic by spreading it out so long - obscene commercialism of course. I wonder whether festivals of islamic and other religions' origins are devalued in a similar way?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I'm having an issue with the characterization early-on that Halloween garners "unnatural" popularity. What does this author consider "natural" popularity? Go?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's slightly odd that the police are making such a point of not being able to differentiate people in halloween costumes. Yet if I don the fairly standard Japanese white face mask, hat and sunnies combo, that i see people walking around in everyday, no one would be able to tell who I am. If the police are so concerned about recognition, they should be stopping those face mask people all the time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's slightly odd that the police are making such a point of not being able to differentiate people in halloween costumes.

It's not just in Japan. The 7-Elevens here in the States had signs up prohibiting entering the stores with Halloween masks on. The Otaku convention I attend in Baltimore has also noted that the local businesses do not want cosplay masks/helmets/or other face gear worn on their premises. That convention moves to Washington D.C. in 2017, so it will be interesting to see how the Capitol Police and the Federal District Police treat the cosplayers - especially the guys who cosplay the assault teams from Resident Evil's "Umbrella Corp." It could get... tense.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Halloween in Jaffland is just one long selfie session.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites