I am always quite glad when Halloween is over. Unlike a lot of people I know, aside moments from childhood – it took quite a while for the full American scary, costumed festival to seep into British culture, as it has done so also in Japan very virulently in the last few years – when I was a kid, it was very different. I remember ‘apple bobbing’ – trying to retrieve an apple from a bucket of water with your mouth; the odd ghost costume; candles, perhaps some sweets and chocolates – neither D nor I can remember any pumpkins.
This might seem strange coming from a person whose last post on here featured me dressed as a doll-ghoul in a Zushi antique shop , but in actual fact neither of us has ever really been that much into celebrating Halloween itself. I certainly don’t need permission to dress up as somebody else on one particular day of the year (sometimes I feel people are so excited about being able to wear some kind of costume that enables them to momentarily slip into another identity for a few hours, when in actual fact they could do it whenever they felt like it): of course it is fun – and a bit naughty and scary, dipping into the dark side; young children feel the frisson of the night air; there is a mania about; something wicked this way comes; but at the same time something tiresomely predictable and often extraordinarily ugly: the plastic orange and purple Jack O Lanterns and candy dispensers – there is something about all that crass and cheap colour combination that offends mine eye and brain quite severely for some reason: all the witches on broomsticks and leering critters; all the stuff that will just get thrown in the trash. There is something quite horrifying about it, and in recent years we have been getting all of that more and more here : the second the summer is over, come the beginning of September and out it all comes and is draining on the spirit.
This morning I read about the horrific knife attack on a Tokyo subway on Halloween (this Sunday), with a 24 year old man dressed as The Joker randomly stabbing seventeen people – fortunately there are no deaths, as of yet, but the video footage was quite petrifying to behold, with commuters bound for Shinjuku – where we had been invited to a party in the park – running for their lives as a fire started to sweep through the carriage and the perpetrator sat smiling, smoking a cigarette in his green and purple digs – waiting to be arrested by the police.
So I am happy that all the cheap dispensable detritus will disappear – I don’t know, into a landfill, or in the back of someone’s closet. I am glad that it is the first of November; not the 31st of October. Bizarrely, the Japanese ginger lily I mentioned (when? I wonder how many weeks it was) sprouted another full head of flowers a few days ago, perfuming the air with a definite smell of freshly cut ginger (up close, like the other flowerhead, the white petals are quite gardenia-like, though I feel that this second bloom is less pungent and all-encompassing than the last one); still, arriving home after work the other night my first reaction, as I tore off my mask approaching our house, was ‘ginger’: what is that ginger? (only momentarily of course – my smell synapses soon put two and two together and I was amazed by the contrasts of the air, the incense from our house; and the invigorating yet dreamy fumes emanating consistently from the flower.
I am looking forward to the end of this year; to finishing the term, and having some headspace to just breathe a bit after this tumultuous year – no wonder many of my friends were going nuts in their anime costumes at the crossroads in Shibuya; people need release; they need to celebrate. I kind of do want to myself, also, and am looking forward to Christmas and the silent space of the New Year period here in Kamakura – the most peaceful time of the entire year, when everyone takes stock of what has happened, and micro-hibernates. I just want to relax, and do some writing; get some more secondhand perfumes (this delicious bottle of Rochas Mystere is currently in favour, and waiting for me as a night perfume; I adore the design of the bottle, and the dark, mulched, floral liqueur amber, and never fail to buy a bottle if I find one as it is one of my absolute all time favourites; it just lets me float).
Quite perfect, also, for this time of year.