Even though Halloween isn’t really celebrated in Japan, most people know what it is, kind of like how Americans know about Chinese New Year, but the most we ever do is throw up a few decorations and maybe grab some Kung Pao Chicken for dinner. In order to better familiarize my students with this very American holiday, I decided to wear a costume to school. I dressed as a middle school student, specifically a middle school boy. And I was not just any middle school student- I was my middle school students. See the little black patches on our outfits? Those are nametags. For each class I taught that day, I chose one of its student and made a name tag accordingly (in Japanese characters, mind you). Overall, I think my costume went over quite well. When I passed my students in the hallways, those who were seeing me for the first time whipped their heads around so fast to stare at me that I probably gave half the school whiplash.
In other fall new, like Halloween, central heating is not part of traditional Japanese culture, so since the last of Hokuto’s Indian summer departed along with the month of October, I’m typing this with gloves on in a futile attempt to keep warm. At least I live in Sutama, which is a section of Hokuto about midway up the mountain. Closer to the peak is Kiyosato. Kiyosato is usually 10-15 degrees cooler than Sutama, so winter weather arrived there even earlier. The English teachers who live up the mountain started to sleep with electric blankets weeks ago. You might think they have it rough and that I have nothing to complain about, but they have heated toilet seats. Their winter may be a few weeks longer, but I have to choose between dehydration and frostbite. I think that pretty much evens things out.