Here at JCMU we celebrated Halloween a week early on the 24th of October. We had two different parties: a children’s party in the afternoon and a student party later in the evening. For the children’s party, 100 or so children and their parents came to JCMU and we hosted various activities in the academic building. There was face painting, a haunted house, various games and songs, trick-or-treating, etc. I worked as the tour guide for the お化け屋敷 (haunted house) and led the children through the darkened library. I was extremely surprised at how scared some of the children became considering how little we had done to transfer the library into a “haunted house”. My costume as American McGee’s Alice was quite splendid for my role and several of the kids stole my bloodied katana to beat off the “monsters”. The local 滋賀大学 and 滋賀県立大学 students came to the evening party and we all ate a lot and had a costume party which my friend dressed as Obama won, inciting a huge cheer from the crowd. This latter party was our reward for working at the children’s one.
For actual Halloween night, I spent a night at a Zen temple in Kyoto. The following morning we woke up and watched a Buddhist ceremony performed by all the monks in the main temple complex. Afterwards, we drank matcha and ate wagashi and then practiced zazen (seated meditation). The meditation was very relaxed and not as strict as I was expecting though I was once struck on the shoulders by the “Stick of Compassion” (a long flexible wooden rod) which was surprisingly helpful in regaining focus.