"Get your little ass back to the penitentiary, motherfucker. You know what you did last time you was here."

Ghosts & Goblins

This weekend was long and tiring. First of all, it was Halloween. I’ve never really celebrated that holiday, but at KGU (not in Japan as a whole) it seemed like a big thing, so a few of us actually skipped classes on Wednesday in order to go to Osaka and get costumes. I didn’t have money to waste on anything too special so in the end I just bought a funny pac-man balaclava, and so did my long lost German brother, Tim. There was some discussion on how we could get the most out of our cheapskate excuses for costumes and in the end the obvious choice was to put our black suits on and the hat on top.

Starting Thursday morning, the Center for International Education was filled with anime cosplayers, traditional monsters, crossdressers, animals and everything imaginable as there was an ongoing Halloween costume contest for KGU students. We weren’t prepared for that, Halloween was supposed to be Friday, but after morning Japanese classes both Tim and me went back home to get into character and came back to school an hour later to annoy people. The genious that made our costumes so popular was the late decision not to speak a word to anyone while wearing the masks, after all we didn’t seem to have mouths. This gave an eerie feel to everything we did, and when added to the fact that we tried perform every action simultaneously and were of pretty much the exact same height, it allowed for some great moments during the elongated Halloween.

After two days of walking around the campus looking stupid, we had been in hundreds of photos, scared dozens of people to the point of having a seizure and made innumerable people curious about who were the freaks hiding under the masks:


From a sociological point of view, it was very enjoyable to be able to see people’s initial reactions upon meeting someone when there was no gaijin prejudice involved. It somewhat surprised me, but people really couldn’t tell who we were or even where we came from. The most frequent comments we heard but never answered to were:

Bikkurishita! = That startled / surprised me, sometimes accompanied by a quick leap backwards or running away.

Ryuugakusei desu ka / Gaijin desu ka / Nihon-jin desu ka? = Foreign student? / Foreigner? / Japanese?

Shashin wo totte mo ii desu ka? / Can wee take-u photoo wizu you? = Self-explanatory

Setakai / Takai / Dekai / Dekee = Tall, tall, huge, HUGE

Dare desu ka? Who are you? = I wonder

*embarrassed laughter and giggling*

There were also a lot of ignorant fools who called Tim Spiderman because his mask was red. We didn’t really have any names so people usually just referred to us as the Red one and the Blue one. Revealing our faces before going clubbing on Friday night also incited many drunken compliments from random students, and nothing is more honest and heart-warming than drunken comments from people that will probably never talk to you again once they sober up.

Matsuri Danshaku

The other aspect of the weekend was that the 43rd Gaidaisai (a.k.a. Kansai Gaidai Festival) was held from Friday to Sunday (with preparations starting as early as Thursday). It was something comparable to school festivals in high school romance animes: The sports field was filled with food and snack booths while class rooms underwent different transformations into karaoke bars, live music clubs, tea ceremony rooms and whatnot. Several clubs and circles (Flamenco, Cheerleading, Aikido…) held presentations and shows around the campus, and the main stage next to the cafeteria was in good use by new bands on their way to stardom. There is so much to the festival that there is no way for me to remember and write about everything but I’ll try my best. In order to counter the ensuing Wall of Text I’ll throw some random photos in between topics.


The Gaidaisai officially started Friday morning, which was great, because it cancelled all classes, except for foreign fucking students. One might think it somewhat lowers the studying motivation when everybody else is outside having fun and we have to sit in class and look out of the window pining for freedom. Well it did! Luckily I had enough time between some classes to try some of the festival food though. I think I’ll be able to put up a foodlog page sooner or later about everything I’ve eaten here so I won’t include a list here. In some way, festival food is similar to fair food, although it isn’t made by people, or folk, but normal students. And during a weekend they’re putting their everything into making it. People are working around the clock to make decorations for booths that will only be up for three days. I couldn’t expect anything similar to happen back home. After classes were over, the festival was closing so Friday was soko made. I had had just enough time during breaks to go around the booths in order to know what to do on Saturday with all the free time.

John Wilkes Booth(s)

Friday evening was the time to go clubbing. Business as usual, entrance to the Halloween party cost 3000 goddamn yen and included no re-entry. Clubbing here has been an increasingly rare occurrence and that fact alone made the night very enjoyable. Most of the partygoers were in costumes and the club had a lot of different bands playing live or dancers performing on the stage. Due to my intoxicated state at the end of the evening, I took part in a soccer game in front of the Kuzuha mall at around 3 am while still wearing my suit. Some twist of fate allowed the suit to stay intact, however.

Party people

The weather on Saturday was excellent so the day would have best been spent wandering aimlessly around the school. However, it was also the third time we had agreed to holding a booth about Finland in order to spread the miracle that is cultural (mis)understanding. This time it was part of the Gaidaisai International Festival and wasn’t for high school students, or even for gaidai students interested in going abroad, but for anyone who happened to come see the festival. I got there late, accompanied by a Phil Collins hangover, but somehow managed to make it through the day in one piece. In the evening all those involved in organizing the International Festival were invited to eat some sukiyaki at the Asian Days restaurant at Hirakata station. All you can eat, naturally.

Ian with Japanese girls on the left, kakkoii gaijins on the right

Sunday was more calm, as the somewhat tiresome cosplay fun as well as the InFes were over and I could concentrate 100% on experiencing the school festival. As I already explained what it was all about a few paragraphs earlier, I’ll cut corners here. The last day was, in fact, more of the same: Walking around school, seeing shows, eating all kinds of interesting food I had not tried before and meeting friends.

Omusoba with my name written on it. Down't touch that! (I demand)



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