Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bon Odori and Back to Seo

The base has a community day for Obon. It seems to be a pretty big deal for the locals, they are allowed on base without an escort and can buy inexpensive food and goods at the base shops, and there is a small street festival. It's a great community outreach event. Husband and I decided to participate by dressing in our finest yukata.

Westerners inherently look a little odd in kimono, but I did my best. I even tied the obi by myself. (Thank you, YouTube.)

New hair stick and sandals for the occasion!

Husband with his sumo print yukata.

On base, this event is hyped up pretty well and I had high expectations. This was in contrast to my self-consciousness at wearing traditional Japanese clothing as a Westerner when nobody else seemed to be dressed up for the day. I was afraid I would offend someone, but we actually got several compliments from random people on the train. At least, I assume they were compliments. I couldn't understand a word (my listening comprehension is terrible and my vocabulary isn't terribly large), but body language didn't seem angry. That, and as the day went on, we saw more people dressed up. So it was overall good and I'll do it again sometime.

Odori on Base

The helicopter was kind of neat.

The taiko performance was great.

Vendor street:

The vendor booths were disappointing (nothing vegetarian-friendly other than shaved ice and funnel cake), there were only a couple of booths selling doodads and baubles (one guy doing airbrushed shirts and another selling dinosaur-shaped balloons). I was hoping for more, but these signs crack me up.
Oh! So Good! How good? Squirt-yourself-in-the-head-with-ketchup good.
Steak and Frylock?

Okay, the row of inflatables was pretty cool. Especially the one of King Kong fighting a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
You have to admit, that's pretty awesome.
This image doesn't quite capture how sad the conductor is that he has to ride around on an itty bitty train in the hot, hot sun all day. So sad.

After deciding that we'd seen enough meat-on-a-stick booths, we headed toward Tokyo proper to meet up with a friend to see a parade in Nakameguro.

Obon in Nakameguro

Random cool building, I don't know what it is or what it's for.

Everybody is lined up for the parade. This was a neat event because it wasn't too terribly crowded and it's something traditional that we don't have an equivalent for in the US.

It wasn't a Macy's Thanksgiving Day type parade with floats and stuff. It seems like every organization or business or club that wants to participate can, if they have enough people. Typically there was a leader with lanterns on a long pole to lead the (color-coordinated) group...

...followed by a group of dancing people...

This old guy is doing it right.

Most groups had a band bringing up the rear with flutes, drums, stringed instruments, and small gongs or bells. Some had chanting, and a few had lantern jugglers (I'm sure there's a real term for this, but I don't know what it is).

One group had some girls flitting about in front of the elegant ladies in hats shaped like gyoza.

And if you wanted to see more of the toddler trying very hard to keep up with the others, here you go.

One more for the road:

When we'd had enough of the parade (I think we stayed for the first hour or so, but it may have gone on long into the night.) we went to dinner and ended up back at Seo for a couple drinks (click the link if you haven't read about our first experience there the night before).

The bartender did the same show as the previous night and because he recognized us (or maybe just because we were dressed up), we got pulled into the post-show games. Note: games are prefaced by a few seconds of freestyle dance for no reason other than it's fun. Husband volunteered for the see-who-can-drink-beer-through-plastic-tubing-the-fastest contest (intentionally chosen so the three contestants were an American, a Japanese guy, and the Korean bartender) and even though he had insisted the previous night that lifting the cup over one's head and siphoning out the beer would be the right technique, he did lose to the bartender. He got a prize anyway, a case of some sort of canned rice drink.

I didn't understand exactly what the bartender said after that, but I think it was "Oh, you two are just so cute. Come up here." So we both got pulled back behind the bar to give a little speech or introduce ourselves with the long-handled spoon as a microphone. I had no idea what was going on, so I tapped the spoon and asked if it was on and if everyone could hear me and awkardly stalled as much as I could until the bartender took it from me. It was okay, everyone pretty much got that we don't speak much but were there to have a good time. He asked in English if we like K-pop and I said sure, why not?  

Dansu taimu! The music started, so we danced like everyone else had before us. No expectations, no judgment, just having a good time. The bartender sprayed foam like snowflakes over our heads and we boogied in the fake snow. Americans in Japanese traditional garb dancing in a Korean bar under fake snow. What are the odds?

1 comment:

  1. Your yukata is lovely, and the obi looks perfect.

    I really enjoyed the drummers.

    Sounds like you had a good time over all. Mom