Halloween is such a part of American culture it seemed hard to let it pass unnoticed while I was living in Japan. Another one of the American expats, who was from Arizona, was keen to host a Halloween party at his place and thought a piñata would be a perfect addition. Actually, he really just wanted an excuse to have a piñata and Halloween fit the bill since candy was involved.
He had looked online to see if there was any way to get piñata sent to Japan. When he came up with no leads, he asked me if I knew how to make one knowing I was crafty. I had never done it before but I always like trying new things so I agreed to help out.
Since we were in Japan we quickly settled on Hello Kitty as our piñata subject. To make the form we used two large balloon with the pointed ends tilted out for the ears. To fill in the space and make the head oval we blew up a little balloon and placed it in between the ears using a little bit of tape to hold the balloons together.
Next we paper-mached the balloons. We made paper mache paste mixing together 1 part flour to 2 parts water. We cut up pieces of newspaper into 1" strips, dipped them into into the paste and layered them over the balloons. In order to get a strong piñata we made sure to cross the strips and put on several layers.
Once the paper mache was dry we popped the balloons, cut a hole in the bottom, filled it with candy and taped the flap back shut. Finally it was time to decorate. We cut up squares of white paper, crinkled them, put a dab of glue on the back of the middle and pressed them onto the form. I used some black duct tape to make eyes and whiskers and an oval of yellow paper for the nose. With a red bow from the Hyaku-en Store the Hello Kitty piñata was complete and ready for the party. If you want to make your own piñata just arrange balloons into the form you want and then follow the rest of my instructions.
My friend lived in an American style apartment complex that had a courtyard and he figured out a way to string up the piñata between two of the buildings and a small tree. I apologize for the crappy pictures but it was nighttime and even I am not so dorky that I would bring a tripod to a party.
The piñata was a big hit (haha, I am punny!) at the party. We had made it a good strength and it took 18 people before it was finally brought down. Most of the people in attendance were not Americans (a mix of Japanese, Europeans and Australians) and so they didn't get the whole "rush to gather the candy after the piñata breaks" part of the tradition. I, of course, love candy so I was gathering it up by myself while everyone else looked on like I was crazy. More for me, right? Well, actually I figured that I had an unfair advantage since this was not my first piñata so I passed the candy around.
All in all it was a really great night and the piñata was a fun, non-traditional addition to the Halloween evening.