Friday, September 5, 2008

Senami Matsuri

‘If you don’t get out, you miss out.’  Today was definitely one of those days that I was not about to miss out on anything.  I guess it helped that I had the day off due to the Senami Matsuri, which two of my schools are heavily involved in.  (But don’t get too jealous, we have to make up the day on Saturday!!) 

During the day, I tackled a lot of the things on my ‘to do’ list.  One included going to Tatsurou Kudo-san’s sake shop again.  A couple days ago he sent us postcards with his calligraphy (couldn't read it), and I started to feel guilty about not keeping in touch.  He had some other visitors (probably the most popular man in all of Murakami) and gave them calligraphy gifts.  One he wrote with his mouth, and the other was a portrait of one of the men who had a huge mole in the middle of his forehead.  I gave him a copy of the ‘O, Brother Where Art Thou?’ soundtrack since Jess taught him a couple of those songs when we randomly went to his country house.  As it turns out, him and a buddy REALLY want to learn English but since he’s always busy with the sake shop and being so popular, it’ll be difficult for him to attend English Conversation classes.  He proposed setting something up in his sake shop, so we’ll see where that goes – maybe I’ll get free ume-shu (plum sake) and yogurt sake out of the deal!!

With all the contradicting information I was was hearing, I had no idea what was going on with the Matsuri.  To make sure I wouldn’t miss anything, I decided head over early.  As it turns out, the events wouldn’t start for another few hours, so I had a LOT of time to kill…alone!!  I would have been completely fine with wandering the streets, eating some matsuri food, and taking tons of pictures if I could have done it inconspicuously.  Because I look a little different, I already turn heads, but now that I’m teaching and meeting more people, I’m basically a celebrity and the Murakami people are my fans and the paparazzi.  It’s funny, EVERYONE reacts the same EXACT way to seeing me.  It’s “OH!!  Naomi-sensei?!?!  HELLO!!!” followed by “are you here all alone?  Wow, that’s amazing!!”  So I guess this helped me awkwardly pass time as I talked a little with all those who were so shocked to see me.  One of my co-workers even bought me a yakisoba and introduced me to her family, so that was a pretty fun time.  Oh, and I think I got ripped off by the dry fruit stand man!!  He was very nice in wanting to talk to me and letting me try all of the items he was selling.  Thus, I felt obligated to buy something from him.  I chose this really tasty dried seafood, seaweed vegetable thing that you mix with hot water, drink and then eat.  I said “I’ll have one bag of that,” and he said “3000 yen!!!”  This is something like $30, so naturally, my eyes popped out of their sockets, but in my mind, it was too late to take it back. 

The main part of the Matsuri was AWESOME.  I’m always curious to see how the next matsuri is going to differ from the last 500.  At the Senami Matsuri, they RAN with the mikoshi through the streets, up a hill and then slammed them to the ground!!  All the mean while people and kids were in the mikoshi banging on drums, singing, clapping, playing the Japanese flute, and chanting.  Since the streets are narrow, it's a little frightening being a spectator when they start to go crazy in the streets.  

early in the evening, the mikoshi lined up and ready to go

I think this group of funnily dressed people visited every house on the block during the matsrui for one reason or another

after dark, they were off - running through the streets and slamming them to the ground

one of my students was in one of the mikoshi banging on drums

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