Celebrating holidays in Misawa is quite different than in California. Although I do miss taking my children to the pumpkin patches and carnival-type rides, seeing giant pumpkins, and exploring farms, Misawa Base and City does try its best to celebrate Halloween.
Kabocha (small, green on the outside, yellow-orange on the inside) pumpkins are more prominent in Japan. However, the base commissary sells large, orange American pumpkins. Fortunately, my husband regularly checks different Misawa Facebook pages and was able to locate an excursion to a Japanese farmer’s pumpkin patch.
The farmer’s field was less than a 30 minute drive out of the main gate. Participants on the jaunt were able to walk through his field, and pick two pumpkins right from the vine. The farmer’s only request was that if anyone accidentally broke a pumpkin that it would have to be one of the selectees. We paid ¥500 for each pumpkin (regardless of size) and brought a dessert for his family.
Later, through a Japanese colleague, Kyle learned that it was the only American-type pumpkin field within two hundred miles of Misawa City.
Side note: Whenever we are invited to Japanese functions, desserts are always requested as gifts because most Japanese homes do not have an oven.
Misawa Halloween Festa
Outside the main gate, in American Park, Misawa City hosts a small Halloween festival where local businesses along White Pole Road decorate their store windows and doorsteps. Some vendors set up shop to sell food. The highlight of the festival is a short costume parade on the main stage. In 2010, the festival was held on October 16, but usually occurs on the third weekend of October.
Family eats and keeps watch over their bald eagle
Pumpkin Carving with Japanese Children
Another activity that may occur at different commands around the base are pumpkin carving lessons with different cities to build better host relations. Two pumpkin carving lessons were provided by volunteers from my husband’s command to Japanese children from Gonohe City and Akebono Orphanage.
Cupcakes for children participants
Iron Chef Misawa
Every fall, Grisson Dining Facility hosts an Iron Chef Competition open to anyone over 18 on base. Five teams of two (a chef and souse chef) cooked a main dish, side dish, vegetable, and dessert in 1.5 hours. This year’s secret ingredient, to no surprise, was fresh pumpkin.
Misawa Air Base does its best to celebrate holidays for families stationed in Japan. Base-sponsored activities included a Fall Festival (with games, free food, and costume contest), Pumpkin Carving contest, Pumpkin cooking contest, Chili cooking contest, and Halloween Bowling. It’s a shame more families don’t participate in these activities contests because AAEFS gift cards are given as prizes.Participants in the pumpkin carving contest
Yahoo ... I won first place!
I won first place in the cooking contest because no one else participated, an easy $100.
Prizes awarded to select children in a free raffle.
Children dressed in costume bowl for reduced price.
Dome Mall in Hachinohe decorated with an autumn and Halloween theme.