Sunday, October 28, 2007


This was probably the most surreal night in Japan so far. There are no second-hand places here to buy a costume, so I went with a friend to two department stores that have Western goods and holiday sections. The selection was pretty bad, but I managed to find a costume that I now regard as my best Halloween costume ever.

The main piece was a strange thing described on the package as "full-body tights" (zenshin-taitsu, 全身タイツ). I bought it mainly for the picture on the packaging, since you couldn't actually see the costume itself.

I thought the little bulges on the dancing men were just a whimsy of the artist, but these are actually a selling point. The text in the blue bubble reads "tight-fitting, bulge" (picchiri, mokkori, ピッチリ、モッコリ). I also picked up a green wig.

There is supposed to be a tradition in Osaka of Gaijin getting decked out in costumes on Halloween and riding the JR loop line. The JR company, however, has decided that this is a public nuisance and had taken measures to stop it. The rumor is that they sent letters to the executives at a number of the language schools and asked them to forbid their employees to ride in costume. They said they would be taking photographs of anyone who did so.

I don't know if this is true, but I do know that there were a huge number of private security guards and a bunch of JR employees in gray suits with ear pieces and walkie-talkies trying to keep order. But there really wasn't anything going on. Hardly anyone in costume showed up, and most of those who did left without riding the train. Myself and a hand-full of others decided to ride the train and see what all the fuss was about.

These guards may look unconcerned by my presence, but it turned out they were assigned to follow us the whole night and they spent most of that time trying to pretend like they weren't standing right next to a guy in a ridiculous pair of red full-body tights.

When we got down to the platform, there were about ten JR employees around us talking into walkie-talkies and fidgeting with ear pieces. One guy kept coming up to us and asking where we were going and would we please move along. Then he would hold a piece of paper over his mouth while he talked into his phone.

As I was walking around, one girl had to adjust her ear-piece as I was approaching her. Somehow, she believed that I didn't know what was going on, panicked that I might find out and actually tried to hide from me behind an old guy who was standing on the platform, waiting for his train. When I peeked around his shoulder and said konbanwa, she was mortified but managed to smile and say hello in reply.

On the train, not only our security guards, but very nearly everyone else as well just tried to pretend like it wasn't happening. We got off at a few other stations on the loop line and they were all full of security guards and plain-clothes company employees. At one point, when we transfered trains, we were trailed by seven guards. We never saw anyone else in costume.

After the train got boring, we went down to Amemura, where there were a fair number of people in costume.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! The bulge suit is amazing. JR