Yesterday was Halloween. Did you do something to celebrate this holiday? I think that maybe, like most students, you did not have time to enjoy Halloween. Maybe that is not so bad. In Tokyo, because of so much trouble before the Shibuya Crossing was closed for Halloween celebrations. That is understandable. No one wants to see that kind of trouble again. We should have fun with friends, but we can’t enjoy anything if there is trouble, or damage to things, or violence.
Halloween has a long history and culture in the West. In North America and in Europe many people enjoy the season. They like scary things and like to wear costumes of their favorite Halloween monsters.
Do you think that any of those Halloween monsters are scary?
How about vampires? Are they scary? I think that they can be very scary. I like the original story about Dracula. That is really great.
How about the Frankenstein monster? That too is quite scary. The original story comes from a great book by Mary Shelley. She wrote this super scary story when she was only 19 years old. Amazing.
How about the wolf-man? I think that is very scary. Every time the moon is a full moon, the man becomes a wolf monster and attacks everyone. Very scary.
How about the mummy? No… not “Mommy”… that is your mother. A mummy is a monster that is from Egypt and moves very slowly, just like a zombie. The mummy is quite scary, and zombies are also very scary too.
But I think that Japan has monsters that are scarier than the Western monsters. Japanese stories, and manga, and pop culture have “Yokai”. I think that many of your Yokai are very, very scary.
I think that the Yokai called, “yama-uba” is very terrifying. Also, the Yokai called, “yurei” are also very scary. Compared to vampires and zombies, Japanese Yokai are much, much more dangerous.
It is interesting that these kinds of stories are made for us to understand things that are scary. But what kinds of things that are not monsters scare you? What are you afraid of in a world that has no zombies or Frankenstein monsters?
Research by scientists tell us that people are usually afraid of the following things:
Many people are afraid of standing at high places.
Many people are afraid of flying in an airplane.
Many people are afraid of small places, like elevators.
Many people are afraid of insects and snakes
Many people are afraid of dogs and storms and earthquakes.
Many people are afraid of speaking in front of a group and making a mistake.
There seems to be many things that we are afraid of. Of course it is natural to be afraid of a zombie if you meet one, but is it natural to be afraid to speak in front of other people? What kinds of things are making trouble for you that are not reasonable things to be afraid of?
Maybe the importance of Halloween is for us to understand the meaning of “scary” and then to know “scary things” closely so that we can control them. When we understand the monsters and Yokai and things that make us afraid, we have a chance to control our reaction to them. We can understand our fear and then grow more and more to not be afraid. Then we can grow and change and do everything we want to.
So, next time you see something that is scary for you, try to slow down, look closely at that thing and then understand how you react. If you can slow down your reaction you can control your own feelings. Then you are free of scary monsters. Then you are free of being afraid.