Saturday, 27 October 2007

Yamanote Halloween Train

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

this is your loyal reporter mika reporting live from urban myths in 東京 (Tokyo).
I am talking about the Yamanote Halloween Train, I got an Email with information about this years party and knew about it beforehand from the book "Darum Nerven Japaner", a funny book about Japanese culture.
However according to Wikipedia the Yamanote Halloween is but a mere myth, claimed to not really exist, why some people refuse to let an article about it be created.

Yamanote line is the (in)famous green circle train line, the veins and arteries through the heart of Tokyo. You might know it from images, were people are pushed inside the train being so overcrowded, that the doors could not close otherwise. To clear another myth, of course the train only is like this during the rush hours in the morning and after work. Still I experienced it and had to take the next train once, since I couldn't fit in anymore.

台風 猛雨 Taifun and Heavy Rain

For a myth it looked pretty real, when my dear friend Hong Lun, which whom I have been to 京都 (Kyoto) and I decided to go there in spite of because of the 台風 (Taifun) and the heavy rain. At first quite some of the other interns planned to go and even bought costumes, but because of taifun warnings and heavy rain, they backed off. However Hong Lun and I decided this to be a reason more to go and not to retreat, since it would turn even the journey there into a real adventure. The reason is that the station is a bit away from our Youth Heim and unable to use bikes (the wind would have blown us over) we had to fight all the way against heavy rain and wind on foot. ^=^
"Ho Ho brave wind fighters", I screamed and pushed forwards, when around half of our trip we noticed that the rain and wind already became lighter. Once we left the train in Tokyo they subsided altogether. People might say you have been lucky, but Hong Lun and I know better, the reason is we bravely stood against rain and wind, and 風神 (Fuujin) and 雷神 (Raijin), the Japanese gods of Wind and Thunder, which we met in 京都 were impressed by the bravery of these two mere mortals and made wind and rain go away to ease our journey.

池袋 Ikebukuro

The meeting point of this years party was 池袋, one of the major stations of the Yamanote Line. When Hong Lun and I arrived we already saw a lot of people in costumes and met Lukas from my Japanese class in Germany and Pedro one of my coworkers. Also on one of the pictures you can see Wilem, a dutch guy working for the same company I do, but on a different floor, in his self planned and sewed (with the help of his mother) costume. Since he couldn't find face paint anywhere in Japan, he used a gas mask instead.

My good friend Hong Lun

And my good friend Lukas (with beer)

Pedro and a German Beer

Wilem with his Harley kin costume (I had a similar idea once, but I am not as talented as Wilem's mother.)

train officials usually were curious about the costumes

We asked the girl if she was a LARP or Roleplaying Game player, but she wasn't :(

quite colorful

with a lot of orange, do you recognize the costume/symbol in the back?

Lukas, Hong Lun and I spotting many VIP from TV and Legend among the people, decided to go on a Paparazzi VIP hunt and interviewed them. We acknowledged that V's deeds in V for Vendetta were amazing, greeted the Phantom of the local Opera, and found our childhood images shattered, when Hello Kitty admitted that she was a bitch.

The Phantom of the Opera gave us an interview

and so did V

and these monsters

and Hello Kitty is a bitch

Round And Round And Round It Goes, And When It Stops And When It Stops, Nobody Knows...

And thus we entered, already very excited. The atmosphere was really cool, all the people were laughing and making funny jokes and pranks all the time. For the train population while I'd estimate a 40% 60% gender representation, a clear 4/5th majority was 外人 (foreigner). Last year, according to stories, it was half half. What's even worse another 1/5th were German... the embarrassing type. You could easily discern them, since they all had the stupid flag painted on their cheeks like at soccer games. And when I say embarrassing I mean WordCup and Oktoberfest people. Well it was time to go undercover, so I became Claudrik a guy from Liechtenstein (pronounced in an English way) and started to badmouth this stupid Germans, and that there is no place, where you are save from them; that they can be next to you right know, lurking in shadow or disguise and you'd never know.
Other people agreed with me about stupid Germans and Germany and we had funny conversations ^=^

really embarrassing Oktoberfest Germans

There was a lot of funny things going on on the trains. For once at every station the train held, people would run out of the wagons screaming and enter again in a different wagon. When Hong Lun and I joined them, we already lurked at the window door, when the train became slower and looked at the innocent Japanese people outside like vultures their prey. When the doors opened and we screamingly ran out, they backed away and some hid behind pillars. Some of them were so scared, that they did not dare to enter this train anymore and waited for the next one. Although the Ghosts & Goblins population being less than last year, there were a lot of "normal" wagons, which you can see on the pictures.

Inside the trains, people would climb the luggage tray and lie down to sleep there, walk around "normal" wagons with mask and cape and and using an umbrella complaining about the bad weather inside those trains.
There were some really cool costumes. For example a group of people came as Japanese Construction Site Safety Guards. In real life, I am afraid, this is the bottom line for jobs in the Japanese society, since all they have to do, is stand in front of construction sites and apologize to people for the inconvenience the
construction is causing, as well as helping traffic lights to regulate the traffic :/. Ah thank you, I wouldn't have noticed the light turned green, if you wouldn't have told me I am allowed to cross now. I always feel sorry for them and thus thank them for helping me across the green traffic lights and greet them every time I see one.
とにかく (anyways) back to the train. There were a bunch of people dressed up at such workers with neon cloths and bright orange light sticks. According to their costumes they gave a great performance by helping the station security guards to check, whether the doors can be closed and advised the people once the door opened that they can leave the train now and once they closed that they can't cross the closed door now. =D

the guy left is the one walking with the umbrella

construction site workers helped the train officials

party wagons

and the "normal ones for comparison"

As it is tradition, the people within one wagon would chant the next station name, once revealed by the wagon's monitors. There was a lot of chanting going on, and despite lacking music and space, the party was really cool.

The reaction of not involved Japanese was twofold. Many laughed and some even joined in the party. So were some of the Yamanote personnel sightly happy about the costumed and fun people and some train users enjoyed the welcome change from their grey daily routine. While yet another type of people just enjoyed to watch everything from a secure distance and finally other people grudged the party and some man even pushed his way to a crowded wagon screaming in Japanese: "Stupid Foreigners, Get of of my damn way! Arghhh!"

Afterwards I heard, although Hong Lun and I didn't see anything, that some people might have overdone it a bit and that Yamanote-sen next year might advise people in the newspaper to not go to this party, as they apparently already did once. If indeed something should have happened, I am sure it was those damn Germans! Haven't they still learned anything? tsss.

revealing urban myths for you
Klaudrik from Liechtenstein

there were angels

a couple of Santa Clauses (and the female form)


Freddy Krueger and a Beer Hat

and a horse

Super Mario with fan girls

Disco Stu

Cool Japanese Girls dressed as being in the bathroom?

And the warnings were true, there were Zombies in the train, but Okage de, they were quite friendly and didn't eat the brains of their fellow monsters

and finally the usual facial expression of Japanese people seeing us,
caught for you by Klaudrik from Liechtenstein

No comments: