Catrien Ross on Planning a Halloween Press Launch in Japan

Saturday, October 31st, 2009 - No Comments

Books are on hand and our press launch is set for Halloween.

Actually, Halloween going on Christmas.

Alongside witches’ hats and plastic pumpkins, fake snow and Santa Claus giftwrapping festoon shop shelves.

Japanese stores don’t waste a moment’s opportunity.

The Halloween hodgepodge includes bats, broomsticks, spiders, Casper the Friendly Ghost, vampires, gravestones, and haunted houses.

Skeletons, too.

A spooky cultural mix that couples skull and crossbones with Day of the Dead trinkets.

How countries interpret one another’s cultures is intriguing.

Something is invariably lost – or added – in the translation.

In Japan, the more added the better.

Layers upon layers of borrowed cultural trimmings so effective they camouflage what lies beneath.

The passion for all things Western makes many Westerners feel very comfortable.

But such shallow interpretation can be misleading.

Just because things seem Western does not mean they really are so.

Short stint visitors rarely discern the deception.

Even foreigners who return to Japan time and again remain bamboozled by surface displays.

And why not?

Western guests (Asian guests are another story) are received with an often overwhelming welcome.

In other words, with heaps of trimmings.

But the key word is guest.

The Japanese assume that sooner rather than later the foreigner will board a plane and leave.


Savvy visitors have learned that unspoken rules apply:

Come as you like but never overstay your welcome.

Always act impressed with the smorgasbord of cultures on your plate.

Don’t poke too deeply beneath the trimmings.

For better or worse I am a Westerner who long ago forsook her visitor status in Japan.

I appreciate this Halloween opportunity to welcome Japanese guests.

Invited members of the press will visit Energy Doorways for a launch of our new book in Japanese on energy medicine. (Books)

We will present an energy medicine workshop in our spacious center at the foot of Mount Fuji, overlooking Lake Kawaguchi.

Afterwards we will participate in Halloween activities I enjoyed in my Scottish childhood.

We will also gather around an outdoor fire, in a cross-cultural nod to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.

I will heap on the trimmings for my Japanese guests.

Then bid sayonara.

In Scotland children go out guising on Halloween.

Disguising yourself so that you become invisible to malevolent spirits who might cross from the otherworld on the night when the veil between worlds is the thinnest.

Guising, it seems to me, has long been a forte of Japanese culture.

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