Anyway. This past week has been a whirlwind of an adventure; a roller coaster of discovery, emotions, reflection, and sweating through my shirts. Early upon my arrival in Sano I attended an impressive fireworks show held in the nearby town of Ashikaga. There were droves of people. I'm not a fan of crowds (Gandhi, the great mover he was, did not like crowds as he knew ya can't control a mob, and I share his sentiments on that, but not his wardrobe choices) but here in Japan there's something about them that isn't threatening. People are calmer, happier, just looking to have a nice sweaty evening out eating donuts with chopsticks and occasionally dressing like sexy cartoon schoolgirls. So I didn't do my usual verification of adequate nearby exits, and it was refreshing. Check it out before reading on:
There were a lot of people out to enjoy the sun, water and scratchy weeds this day, and Hiro was curiously the only Japanese person there. There were people from India, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, and the United States of Goddamn f'ing America, son. I made friends with a Brazilian guy (who was clearly Brazilian yet said his father is American and his mother German, hmm) and we chatted in Portuguese. He speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish, and Japanese. Pretty impressive really. That's a lot of grammar rules to keep straight.
Later that evening my supervisor stopped by to bring me a laundry pole to hang my clothes out to dry. My apartment has a little balcony which is essentially just designed to do that, and to house the air conditioning units for the apartment. She reminded me of the festival and so I rode my bike (or rather the bicycle that was issued to me by the Board of Education) over to the festivities and strolled around a bit. The day before it was dancing, and tonight it was groups of people carrying these shrines and following some chants and song. I bumped into some of my new pals and joined them on the walk. There was a little float of taiko drumming and just as I was saying how that's something I wanted to learn, a man pulled me over and handed me a Shime-daiko drum, similar in appearance to a talking drum but played differently. He asked me to join in, so I did, and he explained to me the technique and rhythms before each song. Then he said, "and smile: camera!" And before I knew it there was a lady with a video camera within arm's reach, focus set to my skull. I quickly put on my best cheese, thinking how my girlfriend always says I look miserable in photographs. It's true. I'm working on it. The band cheered me and handshakes and bows and high fives were exchanged, and they gathered around for some group photos. Again, famous.
Japan, you're welcome at my place any time.