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Dance, Dance, Dance

March 10, 2010

Last Sunday I went to the Horse Dancing Festival at Kagoshima Shrine.  What is a horse dance?  Basically a group of people dance around a circle with a horse, and the horse is covered with fancy decorations and little bells.  The horse prances around to the accompaniment of a shamisen and a warbling singer, and the women wear pointy straw hats while the men cover their faces with white paint.  There were over twenty groups there to perform from Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures, and it was a lovely festival.  It threatened to rain the whole time, but never really got too bad.  I did feel kind of weird watching the horses being led around the circle, but it was much more humane than a rodeo.  It was a good day, and I even ran into my roommate from the Tokyo JET orientation last year.

This group was from Miyakonojo

See all the little bells?

See all the roadside food stalls behind the dancers?  The roads were lined with these, and there was all sorts of delicious looking and expensive festival food.

There was a stuffed monkey riding on the back of a pony of one of the groups from Miyakonojo.

I tried taking a bunch of pictures of people this time.  I was pretty happy with some of the results.

This guy liked to wave his stick around and tell people where to go.

I also went to check out our local waterfalls that day to see how big it has become thanks to all of our recent rainfall.  It was roaring something fierce, and I did get some pictures taken, so maybe I’ll get those up here one of these days (hopefully sometime soon).

It snowed today in Miyazaki.  It was a full-on blizzard of-and-on all day.  Nothing stuck, but it was quite pretty.  What’s that you say?  Global warming?

I ran into the old lady from the second floor of my building the other day.  We had a nice talk about something, I guess we basically just talked about how long it has been since we last talked, and then she commented: “Aren’t Japanese people crazy?”  This was the day after I had gone out to dinner at a friend’s house and met his whole family.  The whole family was super nice, and the food was terrific.  They treated me really well, laughing and telling stories and asking questions and making me feel very welcome.  But when the father got drunk, he came up to me and said, “Isn’t Japan wonderful?  Aren’t Japanese people so nice?  I’ve never been abroad, and maybe there are some good places there too, but I just think Japan is wonderful.  Don’t you?”  Yes, yes, I do.  I love Japan.  Yet I get a much bigger kick out of everything when that little old lady downstairs comes up to me and says, “Aren’t Japanese people crazy?” and then bursts into mad cackles.  There is a lot of xenophobia here, and a lot of ethnocentrism,  and I think the sense of national identity is great, but at the same time I get a little down every now and then when I’m struck with the narrowness of vision.  These are fantastic people, super super nice, and yet I still feel very much on the outside.  Do I want to be “on the inside?”  I don’t know.  It’s like the father said, “Japan is wonderful.  Japanese people are so nice.”  And it’s like the old lady downstairs said, “Japan is full of crazy people.”

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