Japan bases hope to ‘scare the yell out of you’
Stars and Stripes October 23, 2005
They ordered the body parts weeks ago.
For the spookiest, scariest haunted house this year, the Youth Center at Camp Zama employed the creative minds of its members — the kids — for design inspiration.
“The sewer is going to be the coolest thing,” said Robert Chance, the center’s lead program assistant. Think rats. And saved-up smelly socks to lend an olfactory dimension.
Having youngsters take part lets them contribute to base activities, Chance said. It also adds a coolness factor only a teen could accomplish.
“It helps them do something for the community,” he said. “And helps them show off to their friends.”
Down the road at Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Navy Seabees altered their motto from “we build; we fight” to “we build; we fright” for the base haunted house they’re creating in a vacant building.
The Seabees’ mazelike haunted house — which this year will be two stories high — gives the construction sailors something fun to work on, a break from the public works projects they ordinarily do, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Tony Tse, the Seabee Club secretary.
“It’s something the guys look forward to all year,” Tse said.
All across the region, bases are thinking up ways to “Scare the yell out of you” as they say at Negishi Housing Area, part of Commander, Naval Activities Yokosuka, where they will host a haunted house in the gym.
Many base communities are holding events appropriate for children but most are geared for teens and adults.
Sasebo Naval Base’s “Stephen King-dom of Horror” comes with a caution for pregnant women and people with medical conditions. It’s not a good idea for kids to attend, said organizer Ken Taylor. The house includes several scenes from Stephen King’s horror books.
Yokosuka Naval Base is holding “the House of Wax,” a take on the horror movie of the same name.
In some places, a unit like the Atsugi Seabees takes the haunted house as its pet project. At Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, Aviation Logistics Squadron-12, part of Marine Aircraft Group-12, stands up the base’s house each year.
Elsewhere, like at Sasebo and Yokosuka naval bases, Morale, Welfare and Recreation departments take on the duty.
Designing a suitably scary concept and building an actual haunted house — that can pass a safety check — is no laughing matter, planners said. They rely on scary or gory movies and vivid imaginations but say they do fall back on a few universal elements: darkness, anything slimy and the element of surprise.
They order props from the States, build elaborate sets and round up volunteers to portray creepy characters. And they use anything they can find.
“Seventy-five to 85 percent of the stuff is all stuff that we have recycled,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jerald Rawlins, a steelworker from Atsugi.
Seabees pick up felled trees during the year to carve into props and use old extension cords for power. The Seabees raise money to help fund the project, their biggest event of the year. Last year more than 1,000 people visited the house.
And like volunteers across the region, they give up days of free time to spread spider webs, hang bats and volunteer during the events. Sasebo’s house took an estimated 2,000 hours of volunteer work.
“It’s a group effort,” said Atsugi constructionman Michael Steward. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Stars and Stripes reporter Christopher B. Stoltz contributed to this story.
Where to go for a good fright
Here are the haunted houses and haunted events planned at bases across Japan:
Yokosuka Naval Base:
House of Wax — Friday on the 2nd floor of the Outdoor Recreation Building (B-48) from 7 p.m. to midnight. “Witness the horror yourself.” $3 per person.
Running Scared Halloween Fun Walk — Friday at 6 p.m. in Thew Gym. Free “haunted house styled” walk for parents and kids. Open to anyone. Wear a costume. Sign up to race at the Wellness Center. Call DSN 241-4486 for details.
Negishi Housing Area, Yokohama:
Haunted House — Oct. 31, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Negishi Gym. “We’ll scare the yell out of you,” open to all SOFA ID cardholders and sponsored guests. 242-4120 or 045-281-4120. $2 per person.
Atsugi Naval Air Facility:
Redrum Cemetery — Friday and Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. until crowd “dies,” Building 350 — between Japanese barracks & Navy Exchange Personalized Services (follow arrows on base). Food for sale for a fundraiser. $3 to enter.
Skymonsters (Skymasters) Fright Night — For adults, Thursday from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.; graveyard bar, complimentary “road kill” appetizer buffet.
Sasebo Naval Base:
Stephen King-Dom of Horror — Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m., Hario Gym, $3 per visit, includes refreshments “to calm your nerves.”
Running Scared Halloween Fun Walk — Thursday at 6:30 p.m. (registration begins 30 minutes in advance) Free “haunted house styled” walk for parents and kids. Open to anyone. Walk includes scary monsters and trick-or-treat candy stops. Participants receive a free glow stick. Prizes awarded for best costumes in several categories and age group divisions, (including two divisions of grown-ups). Call 252-3588.
Yokota Air Base:
Kids Klub Halloween Haunted House party — Wednesday from 4:30 to 8 p.m., at the Enlisted Club. Kids 12 and under eat free; adults $9.95. A $2 Members First discount is given to club members.
Haunted House with Japanese Youth — East Youth Center Haunted House, Friday, Saturday and Oct. 31, from 5 to 7 p.m. Share Halloween with Japanese youngsters.
Misawa Air Base:
FEAR FACTORY — Sunday, Friday, Saturday Oct. 31, from 6 to 10 p.m., Building 1007 near collocated clubs. Cost is $3 or 300 yen for 12 and under; $4 or 400 yen for 12 to 18 and $5 or 500 yen for 18 and older.
Haunted House — Friday and Saturday, from 6 to 10 p.m. $3 entry; refreshments and candy for free, at the Community Center.
Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station:
MALS-12 Haunted House — Friday, Saturday and Oct. 31 from 7 to 10 p.m. Hosted by MAG-12/MALS-12. $1 for children 12 and under and $2 for 13 and older. For information, call DSN 253-6038.
— Juliana Gittler