Living in Australia, Halloween has never been a priority (although, as with many events in Australia, it’s a great excuse to dress up and have a house party). But this year I helped out in the haunted house at the Halloween school festival for Ritsumeikan, which was a lot of fun. One of the SKP buddies helped to organise it, so quite a few of us international students were happy to be involved.
We arrived at the BKC campus in Shiga prefecture and were divided into our shifts – two hours each, including “practice time”. Those of us who were zombies and clowns had makeup put on and we were told by the previous people in our roles how to do it. We hadn’t known what to expect, but the room was really impressive – a maze created of cardboard walls and boards covered in black plastic, lots of twists and turns and characters jumping out at you. So much work had obviously gone into it, it was awesome.
So obviously, I was a clown. Which is creepy enough for some people as it is, but I also got to stand behind a table and pretend to dissect a foam body with a squished face…other characters in the haunted house included zombies, a ‘dog’ that snuck up behind you, that girl from ‘The Ring’ with the hair over her face, a mummy that jumped up out of a box, and hands reaching out of the dark to grab you. With the lights off, carrying a torch, it was certainly a fun experience – we all went through the haunted house before we started – and the reactions to our performances varied from too-cool-to-be-scared teenagers to laughing adults to crying kids (oh, the guilt! I think everyone toned it down for the little ones). It was more fun than I expected trying to give strangers a fright, I think everyone had a good time.
After our shift was over we had a chance to explore the campus and the rest of the festival – multiple stages set up, students performing theatre and dance, student-run food stalls and what seemed to be a kind of market similar to a suitcase rummage. BKC is a beautiful campus, huge compared to the Osaka Ibaraki campus that I attend – it reminded me a lot of UQ in size and architecture. The weather is finally turning cooler too – it’s beginning to feel like autumn!