Most Viewed Stories
Exchange students experience culture shock on Halloween
Haruka Omi and Mutsuki Kaneko mustered their courage, approached the door of a perfect stranger, and did what suburban kids across America do each Oct. 31.
They said, "Trick or treat," accepted a nugget of candy, and thanked the smiling adult at the door.
The Halloween rituals the shy girls tried gamely to embrace on Wednesday went against social rules they have grown up with in their native Japan.
"Japan does not have it," said Mutsuki.
The girls are visiting as part of the Yuba City chapter of Sister Cities International, a cultural exchange program that partners youth from communities with similar demographics across the globe.
Haruka and Matsuki, who were dressed as a witch and a ghoul, respectively, traveled on Friday from Toride-shi, a town in an industrial prefecture, two hours' drive from Tokyo.
This year, the Sister Cities program brought 19 Japanese students and 8 adult chaperones to Yuba City. In the spring, an equal number of local residents are expected to travel to Japan.
Before venturing out into the rainy night, they stood in the foyer of their host's house and watched in awe as tiny costumed children came to the door and shouted for their candy.
"They've been very fascinated with Halloween," said their host mom, Jaspreet Mann, whose daughter, Ashleen, 13, had grown impatient waiting for the weather to change.
"They communicate pretty well on basic stuff," said Jaspreet Mann of the interactions between the American and Japanese teens, who spoke English rarely and tentatively.
Over the weekend, they carved pumpkins and attended a Sister Cities Halloween party at the Moose Lodge on Walton Avenue. There, they got to interact with other host families and guest visitors and acclimate themselves to the entire undead concept.
They will depart for home on Sunday with memories of other unfamiliar American customs, including snack time during school hours this week at Butte Vista School.
They were amazed, they said, to see kids sitting on their desks and eating sweets. Such behavior is forbidden in Japanese schools.
And an event they attended at River Valley High School was especially memorable, they said.
"My favorite American thing," said Mutsuki with a big smile, "is the footbal game."
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.