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August 20, 2011

Matsuris, Rain and Luck: A Japanese School Festival Experience

Last Wednesday night Kamil and I joined a community run Japanese language class in our suburb. Apart from doing lots of speaking (or attempting to speak in my case) in Japanese with the teachers, we had a mini dance lesson, where we were taught three traditional dances in a big hall with lots of community members and a few fellow foreigners (although most of the foreigners here are Chinese and Korean, so Kam and I really do stick out!)

They informed us that Saturday was a local summer festival at a nearby school, that they would be taking part in and dancing at! They invited us to come along to the hall early, to be dressed in summer kimonos, and together we would all go to the festival.  And that's just what we did. 

We arrived at 4pm, and were promptly lead into two separate rooms to be dressed. When I got into the ladies' room, my teacher from Wednesday immediately told me "Nudo, nudo". I was standing in the middle of the big dance hall, with at least 4 or 5 other ladies around, and so I asked "Koko?"("Here?"). "Yes, nudo, nudo!" So I got down to bra & knickers, and three lovely Japanese old women flocked around me and spent awhile strapping me into a kimono that I chose from those lain out on the floor. 

When it was done, I thanked them and went downstairs to meet up with Kamil, who had been similarly adorned...

When most of the ladies had been dressed, Kamil was allowed to enter the ladies' room with me, and we waited there until it was time to go to the festival!

The festival was really, really awesome! At a local school, there were many food stands, games and a stage where lots of songs and dances were performed. The teachers from the Wednesday class were all around too (below is Kam's teacher!) We spent some time wandering around, looking at the stalls and tasting some really good festival foods.

Our teachers were running a crushed ice stall, and we had a go at crushing iceblocks! Really fun!

The traditional dancing was really awesome to watch, as was the rest of the night's entertainment.

Then, in a really weird sequence of events, we somehow got roped into going on "stage" (on the back of a truck) in front of the whole community, with the group from our language class to sing a traditional Chinese song that we had never seen or heard before! It was really the most bizarre experience, but we couldn't say no, as they had been so kind to us, and they really seemed to want us on stage even if we didn't know the song ("Just open and close your mouth!")

We were the last act, and as the Chinese song was finishing (to which Kamil and I were mumbling along to as best we could) it started to drizzle a little bit. A Korean man, who was a source of comedy the whole night, took the microphone and started to sing a song in Korean, and as he started, the drizzle became more and more like rain, and the rain became more and more like torrential rain. The audience began to run away from our performance, and we had to jump ship and find coverage under a food stall's shelter, and AS all this was happening, the Korean man kept singing!

I really can't explain how funny this was. I never thought I'd be laughing so much whilst standing in a soaking wet kimono.

The night's events weren't over yet, and everyone was ushered into the gymnasium for the grand finale- the raffle...

Upon entering the festival, everyone was given a fan, which had a number on the back for the purpose of the raffle. Heaps of local businesses donated prizes, which ranged from pillows and salad bowls up to a vacuum cleaner, a bike and an LED TV!

I had a lucky feeling about our numbers, even though there were over 1000 people with fans. But after the main prizes were drawn (see the kid with the TV below), we thought it was all over.

But that was not so! They then revealed a board full of numbers, which showed the winners of tickets to see the Soft Bank Hawks (our local baseball team) at the Yahoo Dome!

And my number was one of them!!

This was really the best prize we could have wished for, as we have been really keen to go see the baseball ever since we arrived. We are about 10 minutes ride from the Yahoo Dome, and Kamil's interest in baseball has been increasing everyday. A really amazing end to an amazing festival, we walked back to the Japanese class hall wet, but completely happy.

After we had changed back into our normal clothes, we decided to go and have a drink somewhere nearby. The rain had let up, and the night was really beautiful so we didn't feel like going home yet. We ended up riding down a side street and finding a tiny 'book bar', hidden on the second floor of a shop front. The bar was really cosy and filled with books, and the owners actually turned out to be friends of our neighbour Miki-chan, and they recognised us from her story of us going to dinner together!

A weird coincidence to end a really lucky night. We had a few drinks and then came outside to see that the torrential rain had begun again, so we rode home with umbrellas in our hands.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That sounds like a really awesome day!
    I thought the nudo part was quite funny, haha. I would be a little hesitant to strip down immediately without making sure haha. Your kimonos look very nice. I especially like the pattern on Kam's.
    I like it when little kids have dance performances. They're so out of rhythm and cute. Usually there are some that are into in and some that are seemingly unaware that they're even supposed to be dancing.
    I'll look forward to a baseball themed post perhaps? I hear it's really big over there!
    Looks like you have been having lots of great adventures in the previous posts too ^_^