Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hollow Mass (a.k.a. the Samhain of Silence)

And so Halloween arrived.

Actually, it wound up coming early this year. I make it a yearly bout of masochism tradition at Ye Olde Academy to let the students come "trick or treating" at the English department office. It can be quite a chore; last year I had virtually the entire 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th grade classes show up during lunchbreak on Halloween Day (if there is such a thing). They had the corridor plugged up solid, and the fact that some kids were coming back to see if they could weasel me out of a second or third helping didn't make things any easier. This year things were a bit different. For one thing, the 9th graders had already left for the first-ever school trip to Okinawa (wouldn't you know it...the one year that I'm not assigned to grade 9...), making it a lot quieter. For another, Chuck decided to give in and start letting kids come begging "trick or treating" early. That meant three days of dealing with the sugar-starved feeding frenzy, but it did help keep the numbers down at any given time. Actually, Halloween itself wound up being quieter than usual.

On the other hand, we did have a bit more fun. Chuck and I were hoping to get some of the faculty involved and organize a costume dress-up for Halloween. The suggestion that we adopt a Hogwarts theme was pondered, discussed, planned, and forgotten. We also had our schedules wiped out by a whole slew (as opposed to a slough) of make-up tests and other unexpected headaches. The result was far less ambitious than originally planned, but at least Chuck and I were able to spice things up a bit. He went all out for decorating the English department office and came to school on the 31st all dressed in orange and black with a Jack o' lantern cap. As for me, I finally put on the BLUE samurai costume that someone gave me for my birthday as a gag gift several years ago. (My wife borrowed that costume for her students to use at her school last year, resulting in the tragic disappearance of the wig, but at least the main part was okay.) I also borrowed one of my son's toy swords, and I dabbed some fake blood on it just for effect.

I wore the costume during lunchbreak while handing out candy to the "trick or treating" hordes. Then I peeled it off so I could drive to the bus terminal and pick up a visiting clinician. (I didn't think she'd be thrilled to be met by a BLUE samurai driving a BLUE RAV4...) I still had a free period, so I hauled my still-uncarved third pumpkin over to the home ec room, borrowed some utensils, and produced another work of art...the first time since coming to Japan that I've ever made three Jack o' lanterns for one Halloween. Then I put the costume back on and had some fun parading around the school.

It really was fun, too. I got lots of attention, and lots of compliments, though most students just stopped in their tracks and stared at me with shouts of "Eh...?" In fact, I went up to the auditorium, where the 7th graders were practicing for the upcoming Chorus Contest (same fanfare as before, though slightly louder and better in tune), the entire class erupted into one, big "EH...??"

Things spiced up a bit when I went over to the 8th grade floor, where the students were killing time after having finished their own choral practice. One of the more smart-assed daring boys slipped up behind me and made a grab for my sword. I caught the sword, but next thing I knew the boy was taking off at a full sprint with my sheath in hand. I roared off in pursuit, chased him down, caught him, tackled him, retrieved the sheath, and, with an air of bushido dignity, restored the blood-encrusted, soft-plastic blade. Two minutes later, thanks to a clever diversion, the same boy was running down the hall again with my sheath in his hand. This time he ducked into a classroom and wove around the desks to throw me off his trail, but I surprised everyone (especially myself) by looping around, cutting him off, and taking him down with a flying tackle. The only casualty was one poor girl's pencase, which was sent flying with its contents spewing, but the boy and I gathered it all up for her, and she didn't seem to mind. (Actually, she mostly just stood staring at me with her mouth open. I guess not many teachers my age would chase down and tackle a student...twice...let alone dress like a samurai!) He never gave me any more trouble after that, but now several boys were determined to grab my sword. I made sure they didn't succeed, made my escape, and returned to the auditorium...the back entrance this time...and watched the rest of the 7th grade rehearsal.

After that I was told by some 7th graders that a samurai always wipes the blood off the blade of his sword immediately after using it. Otherwise, the ghost of the victim might come back and curse him. I figured that, since it was Halloween, that would be par for the course. Besides, since it was only fake blood on my sword, did that mean I could expect a fake curse?

A few more trick or treaters showed up at the office after that, but the seasonal rush was pretty much over. Wiped out, I left the school early, picked up the kids, and rendezvoused with my wife for a low-key dinner date. It was a nice, relaxing end to a festive occasion that usually drains me dry. Now I just hope those three Jack o' lanterns don't start rotting too early.

Blue Samurai3

Happy Halloween, all!


  • Rots o' fun! I'll see if I can get Swinebread to send me some pics he took during our Halloween Party....

    By Blogger ladybug, at 12:19 PM  

  • {L.O.L.} ha..ha..ha..he..he..
    That is what you dressed-up on yesterday ! SO SIMPLE! Not that exactily the same as your yahoo Avatar :-D

    By Blogger PinkPanther, at 4:07 PM  

  • Ladybug
    Yes, I'd like to see those.
    ...or would I...?

    Pink Panther
    Simple is certainly better than nothing, which is what my Halloween costume usually ends up being (i.e. I don't wear anything other than my usual clothes! Get your mind out of the gutter!) Besides, if I'd worn a fancier costume I probably wouldn't have been able to take it off, run some errands, and then put it back on again quite so easily.

    The pic would probably have looked more like the avatar if I'd worn a BLUE shirt and had it taken right after I'd had my last haircut.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 7:44 PM  

  • What a great way to keep the the spirit! Funny picture too.

    By Blogger Swinebread, at 8:40 PM  

  • Wooohoooo... that's really a great simple hallowen custome! Should wear the mask! :D

    By Blogger Selba, at 10:33 PM  

  • A ghost curse is the perfect thing for Halloween. Maybe you need to start an American football team there. You have tackling practice under control. :D

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 11:16 PM  

  • I am amused. Your expression is so noble. Now, do you by any chance have a real sword as a family heirloom? I have one from world war 2 qnd another from a Knights Templar club sword made in 1892.

    Chop chop!

    By Anonymous dave, at 7:53 AM  

  • Hey, you're trying to copy the avatar guy in the sidebar! Did you ask him first? :P

    By Blogger Olivia, at 9:55 AM  

  • Swinebread
    It also doesn't hurt to dent the monotony a bit from time to time. It does help student morale. Plus, since I'm a gaijin I can get away with it.

    I know. I didn't have time to get a mask, let alone make one. The only reason I was able to use the samurai costume was because I happened to have it at home (minus the wig it came with, unfortunately).

    Our rugby team is already pretty good at tackling, though I have yet to try it myself. I think it freaked the students out to see me sprinting after a kid like that, let alone catching and tackling him! (I think it freaked me out, too, since I tend to have such a sedate lifestyle...and a bit of a gut...)

    My FIL actually hails from a well-known samurai family, but I don't know if he has a sword or not. I've never seen or heard mention of any. If there is one, it's probably at the family homestead up in Iwate Prefecture.

    Swords are taken VERY seriously here. Do you remember the post I wrote about the guest clinician at last summer's music camp who brought an heirloom sword? He treated that thing with lots of devotion.

    Actually, m'lady, it was partly his idea. He says I make him look old, though. Maybe I need to get my hair cut again.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:03 PM  

  • Cool costume. You look like you would make "quick sashimi" of anyone who would dare cross you.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 7:34 PM  

  • We don't do Halloween and I don't ever remembering my family doing anything about it. But we did have Guy Fawkes Night once upon a time - a bonfire and crackers and some story about a plot to blow up the English Parliament. Australians don't seem to bother about it.

    By Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog, at 3:15 PM  

  • *ears perk up*
    Mmm who said Sashimi? I haven't eaten raw fish in a while!

    By Blogger Olivia, at 2:10 AM  

  • I love that picture!!

    Sorry you missed the Okinawa trip.

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 5:10 PM  

  • well done!! i think you have to be the best teacher. how fun indeed.

    wow, wish we could have done that in school. too bad the kids didn't get involved. that would have been fun... maybe next year.

    i'm assuming that the japanese don't celebrate halloween. sounds like the kids would absolutely love it if they did. maybe it's too western of a holiday and such.

    you look great. wish you could have worn the wig! :)

    By Blogger Um Naief, at 3:23 AM  

  • I like the pics..

    You really look like your yahoo avatars... or the other way round.

    By Blogger Robin, at 11:47 AM  

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