Sunday, October 28, 2007

Yamanote Halloween Party 2007

So last night I went to the annual Yamanote loop Halloween party! I had a few ideas for a costume that I was tossing around - first I was thinking I should make use of my natural blondness and go as a Super Saiyan Gohan from Dragon Ball Z, then after shopping I got the idea that maybe a monkey suit would be good. My roommate Matt actually wound up using that one, but he went with a gorilla suit instead of the monkey suit. It worked. In the end though, I went with Spiderman. Not just any old Spiderman though... the homemade kind. Well, sort of. Just check the pictures... and videos.

This is apparently a party that's been going on for the last 20 years or so in which a few hundred people get all dressed up in costumes, meet up on the platforms of Shinjuku station, and basically take over one train for one entire loop around downtown Tokyo. It's BYOB insanity with a whole bunch of dissidents from both the foreign and Japanese community... or at least from those that know about it. Allow me to present Exhibit A.

Those who are against it say that 1) it gives foreigners in Japan a bad name and 2) that a couple hundred people frolicking and cavorting on the train in a semi-inebriated stupor is disruptive and wrong. Fair enough. They think that they should call up the police to round up the whole lot of them and put an end to the insanity once and for all.

Personally, while I understand the above arguments I don't see anything like that ever happening, and I'll tell you why. Anyone who's ever spend a significant amount of time in Japan knows that drinking in public is hardly illegal - in fact, you will see people walking down the street or even in the train drinking... I don't want to say regularly, but you see it. I mean, this is the country that has beer vending machines on the streets, right? This is not just a foreigner thing, as I have seen many an oyaji cracking open his Kirin Ichiban or just being plain-old belligerent on the train or platform. They sell beer on many train platforms too, btw, as well as in the shinkansens. Until they make drinking on trains or in public illegal, which isn't gonna happen anytime soon, this party will in all likelihood continue. Japanese people like drinking too much to put any limitations on when and where they can drink.

So do things like this give foreigners a bad name? Possibly, but most of the people whose opinions this would influence have already made up their minds from the getgo, whether based on reality or some farfetched and misplaced image of the foreign community they saw on tv or read online.

Is it disruptive and wrong? Disruptive yes, but only for one train on a weekend evening on a line that will always be crowded anyway. If you don't know, Yamanote is pretty much the busiest train line ever - it makes a loop around downtown Tokyo, which takes about an hour. As such there is a train coming every 5 minutes or so, so I simply urge those that don't want to be on a train with a bunch of obnoxious Halloween party goers to catch the next one. Considering its on a Saturday at 9pm I doubt that'll throw off anyone's schedules.

Wrong? Well, I don't know. Personally, if I could do this kind of thing at home I would, but there are laws in place which prevent me from doing so there. In Japan the unspoken rule is to put others in front of yourself and always be considerate enough not to be a nuisance to those around you, but as I said before there's no law against what's being done. If people were fighting or breaking things then I would oppose it, but I just see it as a bunch of people having fun for 1 hour out of the year in public and then going their separate ways. They push the lines and are definitely crossing cultural norms, but it's all in fun and they aren't breaking the law. In my eyes, it's not a big enough deal to raise a stink over - crying over spilled milk and all. I give this one a maybe... or even a yeah, but big deal. There are far more disturbing things going on that they should be concerned with, like having women-only trains because there are enough perverts that'll feel up girls or try and take upskirt shots of school girls to warrant them.

Anyway.... on to the pictures!! I must warn you though, if you don't want to see me half-naked in public then you may want to just move along.

Mask: 2000yen
Body paint: 800yen
1 pair Spidey whities, custom made to please: 300yen + 2 hours
Memories of public pelvic thrusts and "courting women" on the train: Priceless

Pictures on Flickr, videos right here.

EDIT: More pictures from a friend's party here!


Anonymous said...

Hey check out my newest video of this year's event

Anonymous said...

Oops! that was my article on the event! Here is the video:

Mike said...

Damn it. This is for sure one of the holidays I wish I was in Japan for. They don't really have much going on here in Korea except for parties at bars and clubs.

Put that together with my work schedule and the lamest group of friends I've ever had in a foreign country, and you get the makings for an incredibly boring Halloween.

I don't think I'm even going to be able to put a costume together and go anywhere. Oh well. Looks like I'm going to have to make plans to come out there next Halloween to save me from the boredom.

At least I'm going home for a visit next week.

So what's going on for a trip to Korea?