Okinawa Halloween Costume COSPLAY: 50 Shades of Cute


“Clothes make a statement. Costumes tell a story.” ~Mason Cooley

Their Story?  Evil Gingerkids, of course!

Their Story? Evil Gingerkids, of course!

Halloween 2014, Mihama Costume Contest, walking dead women zombies15520835520_408295eeb7_bThe ghosts and ghouls, manga-attired friends and whole families of anime characters all parade down the runway to the excited gasps of the massive crowd assembled for the All Hallows Eve festivities. From Transformers to dead Goth/Emo weddings, the spectators all gawked at the getup gamut on display.  Edward Scissorhands receives approving applause from the audience, a good sign that he would be a finalist.  And so went the pageantry for the next two hours.

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We are often asked if the Japanese and the Okinawans celebrate many of the holidays that we in the United States accept as the underpinnings of life. Halloween is one of the more interesting days where the East can mask themselves in costumed celebration of All Hallows Eve.  And paint me paranormal, boy do they ever!

Halloween 2014, Mihama Costume Contest, female ghoul ghost

American-Village-Halloween

Zombification:  the danger of listening to too much AFN

Zombification: the danger of listening to too much AFN

The local heavily western-influenced “American Village” and “Carnival Park” at Mihama held their annual Halloween costume contest last week, this year actually on Halloween proper. Compared to the rain and cold of last year (see COSPLAY in Japan), the weather was nearly perfect for such merriment.  So good, in fact, that there were about five times as many people out this year, most of which seemed to be little witches, miniature pumpkins, or young ghouls trick-or-treating throughout the huge commercial complex.  For the contest, Okinawa closes the main road in the area for pedestrian-only traffic.  There a large stage is assembled, funneling down the street transformed into a long runway for costumed contestants to strut their stuff.

Beautiful veiled witch.

Beautifully veiled.  But clearly thinking about her next curse to cast.

It seems we Americans give the day a bad name.

It seems we Americans give the day a bad name.

15086308713_ed15f92dc5_bHalloween, or Hallowe’en (a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening”), is of course celebrated annually on October 31st, itself also the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day, a liturgical time dedicated to remembering the dead, specifically Saints (“hallows”). A timeless focus of All Hallows’ Eve is the use of humor and ridicule to confront the powerful inevitability of death.  Although origins are debated, and whether your trace them to pagan, Gaelic, or Christian roots, it matters little.  Such connections have long been lost in antiquity.

I'm not sure if this is the typical Ugly American here, or a costume.

I’m not sure if this is the typical Ugly American here, or a costume.

Halloween 2014, Mihama Costume Contest, walking dead women zombiesHalloween 2014, Mihama Costume Contest, masked beautyAnd besides, with the fantasy of spectacular dress and anonymity promised by masks and makeup, such connections are today unimportant in what in Japan is a wholly secular day. But the Okinawan people, and to a lesser extent the Japanese as well, are very superstitious people, well-attuned with death and the afterlife.  Thus, it has been easy for both cultures to integrate Halloween with full force.  Starting in the late afternoon on October 31st, one can spy car loads of Japanese kids in costume being dropped off all along our neighborhood seawall to go trick-or-treating alongside their American counterparts.

Halloween 2014, Mihama Costume Contest, devilish

BUT, it is the vigor and energy the Japanese put into their costumes which truly amazes. There were over 250 costumed-entries for the contest this year, most entries consisting of a group of friends or even whole families.  But what really surprises is the shear variety and number of people just out and about in costume, both to enjoy and participate in the revelries.

Sexy, cute AND shy! A winning combination.

Sexy, cute AND shy! A winning combination.

American Slut:  C'mon, Indians didn't wear heels....

American Sluttiness: C’mon, Indians didn’t wear heels….

American Sluttiness: Barney is a cross-dresser???

American Sluttiness: Barney is a cross-dresser???

But having spent now two recent Halloween’s here in Okinawa, Jody and I have reached an interesting conclusion: while America has taken sexy to slutty extremes, the Japanese (and Okinawans) have taken sexy on an opposite trajectory to cute!  Fifty shades of gray here start with White (innocence), as opposed to our Black (decadence).  It’s a refreshing spin to see that Asian women here continue to walk on the more subdued side of the blurry gray line between sluttiness and seductress.  While the Japanese certainly have their perverted fetishes (as we all do), they manage to continue to hang onto a level of innocence and naivety that is…well…cute.  See Absolute Territory for a seductive take on Japanese sexy cuteness.

The Ultimate American Sluttiness:  sexifying Burt and Ernie.

Ultimate American Sluttiness: giving Burt and Ernie moobs.

Those girls got guns.

Those girls got guns.

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They probably would be more successful capturing with their fish-NETs than with their sidearms.

Another obvious theme that bleeds apparent in costumes here is the Japanese fascination with guns and weapons. The uber-violent past of the Japanese people notwithstanding, today it requires permission to even possess a folding knife over 6 cm of blade length (15 cm for fixed blades), and even then they cannot be carried (the penalty is up to two years in prison).  Similarly, almost no one in Japan owns a gun.  Most kinds are point-blank illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying (expensive and administratively hard) and maintaining (they must be stored with government officials) the few that are allowed (mostly for hunting).

Armed...with hot-shorts.

Armed…with hot-shorts.

Now that's a gun!

Now that’s a gun!

Transfixed by this Transformer costume!

Transfixed by this Transformer costume!

Even the country’s infamous, mafia-like Yakuza organized crime “gang” tend to forgo guns, and instead resort to beatings and stabbings. With what result?  In 2006 there were only TWO firearm-related homicides. In ALL of Japan.  And when there were 22 total in 2007, National scandal and embarrassment ensued.  For comparison, in 2008 there were almost 600 Americans killed by guns…that had been accidentally discharged….  Where is our outrage, shame and scandal??  However, with most things made taboo, there is a strong undercurrent in Japan concerning guns.  And nowhere does this show more than in their costumes!  And notice that their guns lack the silly orange-colored barrels and plugs that ruined our toy-guns when we were kids.

I missed these nurses this year!

I missed these nurses this year!

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My choice for 1st Runner-up!

My choice for 1st Runner-up!

Of course the Japanese are already into cosplay (costume play), which primarily centers on hugely popular and well-known (and often mega-violent) anime and manga characters. BUT, they certainly have adopted well our Halloween traditions, where I’m happy to report that really, for a change, nothing much was lost in translation.  Although there was a clear absence of sexy-cute Japanese nurses this year, and while he certainly lacks a more refined sex appeal, Edward Scissorhands easily sheared away the competition to get my vote.

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I’m not sure who won, but he should’ve!

See Halloween OkiStyle for another local blogger’s take on this year’s Okinawan Halloween Scene.

For more of my photos from this year’s contest, see Mihama 2014 Halloween Costume Contest on Flickr.

Cosplay in Okinawa: Halloween Costume Contest!


“Clothes make a statement. Costumes tell a story.” ~Mason Cooley

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, zoombie suicide girl nurse

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, an American Beauty (Cuckoo Clock Bird)

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, bloody bandaged nurse

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, Star Wars fans (and costumes)The local heavily western-influenced “American Village” and “Carnival Park” at Mihama held their annual Halloween costume contest this past week.  And even though the weather was NOT cooperating, with rain most of the night along with colder temperatures, the place was still packed, and the costumes were still rocked!  The main street was closed for pedestrian-only traffic, and a large, well-lit stage was setup, funneling to a relatively long runway for contestants to strut their stuff.  Jody and I managed to get a good spot up front, and hunkered down as long as we could until finally we (and my poor camera) needed to retreat to Starbucks for some dry cover and a mug of hot chocolate….  Remember, our stuff isn’t here yet (see Castaway), so I don’t even have a jacket!

halloween-pict01

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, quick dinner for two kitty-cats!Halloween was not like this my first time here in 1999, when the locals in our neighborhood made special trips to see our lit-up pumpkins on display at night.  I still wasn’t aware of much of a tradition when I was back again in 2005, even though I lived in a rather western-influenced part of the island.

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, sexy costumed legs

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, the new and improved armyHowever, this year, I could spy car loads of Japanese kids in costume being dropped off all along the seawall to go trick-or-treating alongside their American counterparts here in the Miyagi neighborhood of Chatan Cho.  AND, the vigor and energy the Japanese put into their costumes!  It wasn’t just those who entered the contest, which must have number at least 200 entries (most with multiple people in costume), but the wide variety and surprising number of people just out and about in costume to enjoy the festivities.  Jody and I are already planning our entry for next year.  And we are known to be Halloween costume contest first-prize winners….

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, Japanese couple in costume

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, Japanese snowwhite!

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, ferris wheel at Carnival Park MihamaOf course the Japanese are already into cosplay (costume play), which primarily centers on anime and manga characters.  BUT, they certainly have adopted well our Halloween traditions, where I’m happy to report that really, for a change, nothing much was lost in translation.  My personal favorites?  Sexy Japanese nurses of any flavor, dead, zombie, or just anime!  Enjoy the photos, and the Japanese version of a Halloween theme favorite.

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, toy story

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, ghouls' wedding

This is Halloween…in Japanese!!

Nozoite minai ka

Fushigisugiru sekai wo

Annai suru yo

Bokura no HALLOWEEN!

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, goldielocks, times three

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, Sexy nurse with a bunny phone!

Kore ga HALLOWEEN

Tanoshii HALLOWEEN

Kabocha ga himei wo ageru

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, chain-saw massacre

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, ghouls melting in the rain

Kore ga HALLOWEEN

Machijyuu sawagu

TRICK OR TREAT

Minna ga shinu hi made

Kyoufu no machi hibiku himei

Sutekina HALLOWEEN

BED ni kakureru ore wo miro

Surudoi kiba ni

Makkana me

Kaidan ni kakureru ore wo miro

Hebi no yubi ni kami no ke kumo

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, ghostly bride

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, sexy nurses!

Kore ga HALLOWEEN

Tanoshii HALLOWEEN

HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, Cuckoo bird fantastic costume

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, sexy costumed legs

HALLOWEEN TOWN kono machi wa

PUMPKIN SONG ni daikassai

HALLOWEEN TOWN kono machi wa

Minna ga kyoufu wo daikangei

Toori no kado wo magatte goran

Wakuwaku shichauze nanikaga

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, fencenet hose and combat boots are hot!!

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, quite a random collection

Suki da ze! HALLOWEEN!

Akakuro! Nebaneba! Kowai darou?

Ara, zenzen yo! Noroi no kotoba tonaeru dake de

Yamiyo no tsuki ni noru wa

Kyoufu no koe hibiku himei

Sutekina HALLOWEEN

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, nurse lipstick and her crew

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, legs and midriffs on young Japanese women

Atashi wa PIERO yo okao ga hen

Ikinari araware sugu kieru

Senaka ga tsumetaku kanjiru kai

Boku da yo kurokami yurasu kaze

Oresama tsukiyo ni utsuru kage

Kyoufu no yume nara omakaseda

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, ghoul women

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, happy fairy and her escorts

Kore ga HALLOWEEN tanoshii HALLOWEEN

HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, the great pumpkin greets

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, form of a pizza pie!

Acchi mo kocchi mo kowain da

Sou ja nai to tsumaranai

Kore ga minna no shigoto sa HALLOWEEN

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, Japanese bat-girl

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, bad boys always get the hot chicks

HALLOWEEN TOWN kono machi wa

Minna ga kyoufu wo daikangei

Sutekina JACK ni odokasaretara

Tachimachi shinzou tomaru yo

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, police raid!

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, Japanese geenie

Suki da ze HALLOWEEN!

Minna de GYAA! Taisetsuna otoko no otoori da

Eiyuu JACK warera no ou

Minna hakushu de tataero

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, spectators and partiticpants

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, kitten siblings on stage

Kore ga HALLOWEEN tanoshii HALLOWEEN

HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN HALLOWEEN

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, Japanese princesses

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, Japanese females in costume

HALLOWEEN TOWN

Kono machi wa PUMPKIN SONG ni daikassai

La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, whee!

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, Halloween warriors fire a salute

Okinawa Oct 2013, Mihama Halloween, Carnival Park on a rainy night