So summer is over now – if I take the end of the summer festival, and the drooping of the heavier rice grains in the rice field as a signal of the end of summer.
I have not written much on the blog because I don’t want clients to see that I have been doing things other than their overdue work, such as enjoying the summer festival with Mona, helping Tomoe with her work, trying to get the house fixed up and in liveable condition, etc.
In addition to another round of weeding in the rice field, one thing I *wish* I would get around to is learning how to make and edit videos. Until then, however, you have to watch long, un-cut poorly lit clips.
These are from our summer obon festival. In previous years I was one of the drummers, wearing the colorful costume and walking with the parade and lanterns. While it is a lot of fun at festival time, the nightly practice for three weeks prior is not much fun, and being away from home for several hours each night is not such an option with Mona hanging around bugging her mom unless someone is there to cause a distraction.
This year I officially stepped down and am a simple observer. As the only member of the fire brigade that was not in the festival, however, I was enlisted to wear my fire happi uniform to instil fear into the hearts of children tempted to start forest fires with their firecrackers.
The practice for the drummers, flutists, and dancers started a few weeks ago in the local meeting hall across the river. One of the cool things about summer here is hearing the music faintly every night above the sound of cicadas, building up anticipation for the big festival. Mona would run to the back door every time they started and try to catch a glimpse into the window of the meeting hall, even bringing her own drum to sit outside and practice playing along.
The week of the festival is a national holiday, so many people have come back from the city with their families to visit there home. There were so many more children running around last week, so Mona got to spend more time than usual playing with others.
I am really happy to see her start to actually play *with* them, rather than just playing nearby, and since she will be starting pre-school in September, I can only imagine that she will get better at it.
She will also be learning more Japanese, which will be interesting. Now she is well aware that there are two languages – the language we speak and home, and “Japanese”. There is even a third language that she speaks. Today she told me “A is for language”. I asked what language she spoke and she proudly told me “Mona”. She can tell the difference in books, brings Japanese books and asks me to “read in Japanese”. and also knows who to speak Japanese to and who to speak english to (basically white people). I can’t wait for her to start learning more Japanese so I can see her having more verbal interaction with the neighbors.
The videos at the top of the page are of the day after the festival when the shi-shi group walks from house to house doing a song and dance to drive out the bad-luck spirits, I guess. Our house doesn’t have an alter, and we don’t care to clean up the living room, so we just have them do the dance in the street in front of the house. The second video is at our neighbors’ house. Their daughter and grandchildren were in town for the festivities, so we joined them as their demons were driven out.
The other videos are from the night of the festival. All the children carry lanterns (except Mona, who was more interested in following the drum) and parade from one shrine to the main shrine where there is dancing and music, games and chicken on a stick.
Earlier in the night, all the children of the hamlet got together to play with fireworks. Being the only fire-brigade guy around, I was in charge of safety, but I probably wont get that job again next year as Mona was the one shocking everyone by swinging a sparkler in circles. Apparently in Japan this is very dangerous. The other children just lit it and held them out with a stiff arm, unmoving, much to the other mothers’ delight and approval.
I had photos and video of that as well, but my biggest learning of the month is that when you disconnect a disk or drive from your computer without properly ejecting it, it actually does risk damaging the data! I always wondered why that message would pop up and i have never lost data by not properly ejecting – until now.