Monday, June 12, 2006
The 2nd 3rd and 4th of June each year are dedicated to a "summer" festival here in Hiroshima called Toukasan. It marks the beginning of the Yukata "season". Yukata are light cotton robes similar to Kimono and the girls all come out looking wonderful, boys also don the robes or wear Jimbei, which look like pijamas and for the more traditional man, they are. Jimbei are a two piece shorts and crossover short sleeve top outfit which look dead comfy, both yukata and jimbei are worn with Japanese wooden sandles called Geta. These look interesting but comfort wise...
A perhaps new tradition that has evolved is the inclusion of "Perikura". A photo booth that takes a bunch of photos of you and your friends pulling all sorts of faces and poses and which you then get to edit and manipulate however you want. A fun pastime which is bombarded with groups of yukata clad girls vying for the best machine, and jostling each other (in an orderly fashion of course) for a view of themselves in the mirror before they commit to it being saved for eternity. Yes we joined the queue of youngsters in our civvys and dragged some poor innocents into our photos aswell. They practiced their English and pulled faces with the gaijin, all the while giggling with their friends waiting patiently outside. We edited, we laughed, we said goodnight to which they replied "Have a goodtime!", not bad Engrish!!
There are a bizillion and one stalls with various fare on display, goodies to be won and games a plenty to be played. Of course there is a purpose to this, its not just to show off your latest fashion, its a chance to visit the temple and pray for luck. Perhaps in the old days this meant a good harvest, healthy children etc, but times they have changed, and I imagine now its more a case of "I need a girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband" or more money or just plain "more". After one has paid tribute, a fortune can be retrieved. If it is a good fortune you keep it for prosperity, if bad you tie it to a tree to disintegrate with the seasons. How truely naturalistic, poor tree though- think of all those misfortunes that plague it/them on an annual basis!
Along with the stalls of fun, we were treated to a night of dancing Japanese style. We saw two ends of tradition; quaint and sedate vs loud and ultra vigorous. The former being a type of stick dance and some kind of fan dancey thing, the latter being a "Fighting Samurai Fisherman" boisterous event. This wonderfully loud yet traditional Hokkaido dance is called Soranbushi and tis most fun to watch!
Fan Dance Stick Dance
A different side of Japan. Tradition meets contemporary. A country with many faces. Aahh bless!!