The Yamanote Halloween Train (or "Gaijin Train") is a forbidden underground Halloween celebration taking place annually on Japan Railway's Tokyo-encircling Yamanote Line on the 31st of October. The celebrants include foreign residents of Tokyo, with enthusiastic contribution by sympathetic Japanese.
Format[edit | edit source]
On or about the 31st of October, hundreds of celebrants dressed in Halloween costume converge upon Shinjuku Station. Moving quickly to evade authorities, they arrive at the Yamanote Line platform moments before a designated train pulls in to the station.
Once aboard the train -the very moment the doors close- the party begins. Giddily breaking the rules and norms of train etiquette in Japan, revelers drink and eat copiously, play music, dance, yell, scream and laugh heartily. At each subsequent train station, partygoers rush madly in and out of the train cars, looking for a different or better party scene. Inevitably, as the train moves from station to station around Tokyo, it gets the attention of the authorities.
Notification: Which train?[edit | edit source]
Due to the unpredictable official reaction, the exact start time of the Gaijin Train is kept secret until shortly before the event. Originally, a notification ("Halloween Party; 9:02 pm October 31st northbound from Shinjuku station - BYOB") was placed in English language newspapers widely read by Tokyo's expatriate community. Currently, the communication is made via e-mail, blogging, etc.
For the year 2006, the current plan is to meet at the following location, based on the party in 2005:
Saturday, October 28 JR Shinjuku station, platform 13 (Yamanote bound for Ikebukuro) Meet where car 10 stops, in front of the escalator from South exit Everyone boards the 21:07 northbound train and loops around clockwise BYOB, or better yet, whisky
For the year 2007: Sent Saturday, October 27th. @19:37:13. Yamanote line party tonight, Shinjuku platform #13 toward Ikebukuro. Leaving at 908, 10th car.
Official Response[edit | edit source]
Never condoned, the bacchanalia is sometimes tolerated by authorities. On other occasions, the train is stopped altogether and the foreign passengers ordered to disembark and leave the station.
History[edit | edit source]
The original Yamanote Halloween Train Party was started sometime in the early 1990s (probably 1990 or 1991) and was abandoned a few years later in 1992 or 1993 after a crackdown by police.
(Not exactly! I rode this train in '93 an '94 -- Ed Livingston)