MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- As the temperature begins to drop and leaves change color and fall, station residents of all sizes begin to prepare for Halloween, not just for the children aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, but for the many Japanese guests coming aboard station for the Halloween Festival Oct. 31, 2013.
Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 hosted a haunted house to which they invited the Shunan International Children’s Club to come through. The station chapel provided games and treats for anyone who came by and American Forces Network Iwakuni held a Halloween Bash near the Monzen Bridge.
“I’m so glad to have this opportunity because it allows us to experience American cultures,” said Kazunori Myodo, station visitor. “It helps give me new ideas that I can use for the future.”
In addition to the numerous Halloween events, the main attractions to visitors were near the housing areas where some station residents waited in the houses they decorated to pass out candy to all their frightening visitors.
“This is amazing to be able to experience a real American Halloween,” said Seina Myodo, 11, station visitor and trick-or-treater. “The decorations are impressive and so scary that I can’t stay away from going to different houses.”
The history of Halloween dates back more than 2,000 years to the ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain where they wore costumes and celebrated the end of their summer and harvests before the winter season.
Halloween came to America in colonial New England, but celebration was extremely limited due to Protestant belief systems.
In the late 1800s, the holiday turned from being a community and neighborly get together into a widely celebrated tradition.
It wasn’t until the period between 1920-1950 that trick-or-treating began to pick up and Halloween began to grow throughout the nation. Today, Americans spend an estimated 6 billion dollars on Halloween each year, making it America’s second largest commercial holiday, according to http://www.history.com/topics/halloween.
As the candles inside the jack-o-lanterns begin to burn out and visitors leave with candy bags filled, some can’t wait until next year to be spooked once again.
“I hope that more Japanese are able to have the opportunity to come on base and be able to experience an American Halloween,” said Kazunori Myodo.