Sunday, October 14, 2007

Great Pumpkin, where are you?

Yesterday, my friend Marlene and her neighbor came up my way and we went out looking for the Great Pumpkin.

Marlene lives in the next town over and we have been friends for nearly 15 years. Her husband is also Japanese and we both came to Japan around the same time. Our kids have grown up together and when everyone lived at home we would often have Thanksgiving dinners together. Nowadays we only seem to have time for a quick lunch or coffee together.

Marlene also teaches English in her home and every year has a big Halloween party and her English kids look forward to Halloween decorations as mine do. So... What we need are Halloween jack-o'lanterns! Every year around this time we start looking for pumpkins but it is not as easy as you might think. So far this year, neither of us has found a pumpkin so Marlene thought we'd have more luck out in my farming area than in her more populated town so we went on our treasure hunt together. (Her neighbor, Mrs. Waki, went along to watch how nutsy foreigners can get.)

Some years I've found pumpkins in some one's field and gone up to the farmhouse and scared the poor farmer worse than any Halloween ghost might have.

"Excuse me. You seem to have pumpkins. Would you sell me one or two?"

The farmer was so surprised to have a foreigner come to his door that he just gave them to me. (Marlene has even better luck. She's blond!)

A couple of years ago Marlene found some big yellow pumpkins being used for autumn decorations at the grocery store that were not for sale but she convinced the manager that he wouldn't have any use for them after Halloween anyway and she needed them now.

This year however, we aren't doing so well. We checked out three places yesterday where we've found pumpkins before but this year there was neither hide-nor-hair of a Halloween pumpkin. It's not that Halloween hasn't become popular in Japan. Plastic decorations abound, (five years ago no one had even heard of Halloween in this part of Japan) and lots of Halloween candy for exorbitant prices. Of course Japanese eat pumpkins but they are small and dark green! The stores also sell decorative orange pumpkins about the size of a tea cup and they even provide "face" stickers so that you can have a jack-o'lantern on your coffee table or somewhere. But Japan has yet to adopt the custom of putting out smiling, candle lit jack-o'lanterns on your front porch.

We've still got two weeks to search so I haven't given up yet! Great Pumpkin, I'm waiting for you!


Quilt Pixie said...

I could send you some seeds in the spring if you want to grow your own giant pumpkins :-)

Hedgehog said...

Good luck with the pumpkin hunt! I've had plenty of similar hunts!

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

oh no. well, Linus always has a hard time finding the Great Pumpkin too, so maybe it's fitting. good luck in your search though. I'd love to know more about how the Japanese are adopting Halloween. Have to say I have been horribly disappointed here in France - hardly anything at all. Is it Japanese Halloween candy or imported U.S.? take photos of your Halloween decorations for the party please!

anne bebbington said...

When I was a little girl up in Yorkshire we didn't have pumpkins either - they just weren't around then - we always used to make our halloween lantern using a large swede (yellow turnip or mangel worzel depending on where you come from) It was a devil of a job to hollow out as they are very very hard and it was always my dad's job because no-one else had the brute strength to do it. How he managed to carve out the inside with out accidentally cutting through to the outside I'll never know

Nancy said...

I suspect you have not been in the States around Hallowe'en for a while. In our area, at least, the holiday has gone over the top. People start early in October with decorating outside. There are now orange lights, huge blow-up decorations, plastic punkins to hang on trees, etc., etc., etc. It is a retailer's dream! Very, very commercial. And also people take clothing and stuff it to make it look like there is a person sitting on a chair or hanging from a tree -- like pudgy scarecrows. Very strange. I like to get a punkin and make a jack o'lantern for hallowe'en night when the kids come to trick or treat. That's about it. The rest seems kind of silly to me.

Barbara said...

Perhaps you find some next year!..and.. yes it was my daughters birthday. I have three daughters .24,20 and 14 years old and you can imagine whats going on ,when they are together!!
My husband died four years ago and since that time, my children are the best ones in the whole world!

Jeanne said...

Good luck in your pumpkin search!

Tracey in CT said...

I hope you have some luck finding pumpkins! I wonder if the climate and growing conditions are not right for growing pumpkins in your area, and thats why it is so hard to find them?

Maybe you should try some gardening next year and grow your own? I think that pumpkins are supposed to be easy to grow? (Though I can't say from experience because I usually kill any plant in my care almost instantly).