Monday, November 9, 2009

It was creeping up on akimatsuri (fall festival) here in fujinomiya and i was all gung ho to get my odori on. However i got sick.

i'm not blaming this guy but he was definitely there when it happened. Creeping around the Aeon Mall in Fuji. i just wanted to buy some pants.

Got all delirious from fever and took some pictures of the arcade. Mostly because it was good to see a full on arcade in a mall again.
And how about the space trip?

This was a sign at an entrance to a travel agency. Are those space pants?

So then the akimatsuri creeps up and Im all kinds of runny nose and blech. But i put on my sick mask and head to the temple to see what all the hullabaloo is about.
Mostly its just a bunch of scammy cheap prize games like goldfish catch and pop gun can shoot and knock down some bottles with a ball. Oh you did it! Heres a toy that cost me a penny and you about 5 dollars. Congratulations!

Also tons of food stands, with a choice of about five things. None of which looked like it would help the sickness.

Here's a bunch of families out enjoying themselves. That water is actually super clean considering. It comes off Mt. Fuji and its super cold.

Here's some surprised people doing some festival stuff coming out the exit to the temple i was trying to sneak in.

Here's the same exit with slightly less surprised people.

i love ikebana. Japanese flower arranging. i took some classes for it after school at Kansai Gaidai chasing some girl. I can't remember the girl but i am forever in love with the fragile and conterminable beauty of this art. So i am always pleased when i happen across a showing. Here in the temple was a beautiful display.

So these different groups who group themselves according (i think) to a common ancestor build these mobile shrines and roll them all over town yelling and beating on taiko drums in full uniform.

When two families meet (on a predetermined course) they "battle" which consists of pushing and pulling the two shrines as close as they can to each other with out hitting the other while the drummers and flute players try to outdo the other family's. i don't really know whats going on but it seems pretty intense, so its entertaining.


i don't know who won....
So i met a member of the Yamato family at the local ramen shop i frequent. he for some reason fell in love with me and wanted me to teach his kids. (he didnt want to pay to sign them up for amity though...) He tells me to come down and he would dress me up and have me walk around with them all day (for three days) pushing and pulling a shrine in the name of some dead samurai named Yamato. i told him that sounded great except for work. (i only had one of the three days off). So i was going to help with that day.... at least that was the plan before the sickness kicked me in the not so nice place and left me an oozing aching mess. But i came out and supported. i also helped move the shrine after the battle to the next yamato place where they ate cold mcdonalds and drank warm wine. i did not partake. Instead i excused myself and went home and took a nap.

This is the back of Yuusuke's head. It says "Yamato". He told me it was ok for his job. You know, i'm not really sure what he does....

This is me and the front of Yuusuke.

This is us in front of the shrine i painstakingly dragged for half an hour.
After my nap i headedback out to meet him around 6:30. From there i put on a uniform and dragged the shrine to the final battle place where all four families meet in one big musical melee.

We battled, i pushed and pulled with no clue and had a blast. I then danced (no pictures of me looking silly, sorry) to several traditional festival dances and we called it a night. Which meant dragging the shrine to the garage.

Here is the beast in storage.

Here it is with the lights off.
After this we went to a little makeshift tent common area for the Yamato team where we talked and ate curry. I had to give a speech saying i was from america and how much i loved fujinomiya. it was properly embarrasing.

This is one last shot for the night. You can see i'm wearing the yamato colors and my sick mask. It got much worse from there.
The epilogue to this story was that my fever became dangerously high after another week of working and i had to go to the hospital, which didnt take as long as i thought it would, and i got some cheap medicine, missed one day of work and slept for the next day. However, the entire staff other than myself were having a great time playing tennis and barbequeing while i stayed at home watching youtube. Whatever.

Monday, October 26, 2009

once upon a time...

"Once upon a time at the foot of a great mountain,there was a town where the people known as Happyfolk lived,their very existence a mystery to the rest of the world,obscured as it was by great clouds."from the song Fire Coming Out of a Monkey's Head by the Gorillaz
This is what i saw out my front door. I had to share.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

shiraito and a haircut. two bits.

I got my hair cut today at Toni & Guy in shizuoka. thats right. Jealous much? The thing is i've seen the gaijin who have dared the shears of the shears of the samurai barbers. Its never, been shall we say, pretty? But i needed a haircut. Like literally. My job requires that i look status quo. Or at least a reasonable facsimile. So i decided to go all out. i should have received my first real paycheck and i figured id go and get the director's cut (the owner, the head kabob) and not futz around. Well, the fact that japan's mail system makes no sense to me and i couldn't get my bank card and i happen to be at a bank closed on saturdays, i was, to say the least, annoyed. Luckily i had a little bit left in my american account, which thanks to this cut is probably close to bottom of the barrel status.
So on my day off my co-worker and pal, takayuki, picks me up in his phat ride and totes me into shizuoka at 9 in the morning. that's early considering our work keeps us up until midnight.

when we get there i see this. a big drum and some people in snazzy get ups dancing with maracas and other various percussion contrivances. it's japan.

afterwards, i mention how i wanted to go to the waterfalls i heard about. i told him i was going to morrow and asked which bus to take. out of the generosity of his huge heart he drove me the extra 30 minutes to see it.

this is not it. this is a waterfall, but not the waterfall. this is a waterfall with a story. so there were these two bothers that wanted revenge for their dad, but as they planed the assassination of the guy who did the killing first they found themselves unable to hear each other over the sound of the waterfall. so the waterfall goes quiet long enough for them to plan their killing spree and everyone lives happily ever after. except for the dad and the first guy who killed said father. anyway its a nice bedtime story.

the first guy is takayuki. just wanted you to see him. the second guy is me. im pointing at the sign that says something about the story i just told you.

this is the waterfall. pretty huh? don't you just want to go frolic? i didn't take a picture of the fences or the do not enter signs.

a lady selling various things on sticks at the falls.

the name of the waterfall is shiraito falls. it means "white threads". the water all comes from mt. fuji. it is filtered all the way through the rocks to this point. neat deshyou?

and last and probably least, the haircut. not really combed but im not in the mood to get all dolled up for a photo for a blog. there will be more photos of my hair im sure, and i just wanted you to get an idea of how short it was.

rock and roll shizuoka (and beyond)

I'd been frequenting live houses in Shizuoka on my off days (few and far between) there i met up with a cat from Hamamatsu who had a band called Free Hug. His name was Yusuke (yuu-ske) He was amazingly cool and we vibed right away, although he didn't speak much English and my Japanese is...well, still a bit on the dodgy side. However, we hit it off and i promised him the next live he had, even if it was in Hamamatsu i would travel the three hours to see him. Turns out his next live was on a day i was off and was of course 3 hours away in Hamamatsu. A promise is a promise.

This was the view of Mt. Fuji from the Fujinomiya train station. It had snow finally, which made me happy. NOW it looks like Mt. Fuji.

Three hours later i arrived at the station where Yusuke picked me up and walked me over to the live house.

This is the live house and the play bill featuring free hug.

Heres a bad picture of yusuke at the drums. hes also the vocalist.

ogi the guitartist. not robert johnson. different hair. he was sick but still rocked the party, he rocked the party. who rocked the party? ogi rocked the party.

hirohumi. the bassist. he left pretty quickly after the show so i didnt really get a chance to chat with him. seemed cool though.

rock in motion.

this was another band 3nd. (pronouned sahnd) they were purely instrumental but were crazy cool up on the stage.

me and yusuke started chatting up two girl members of another band. they heard we were going to rock and roll all night (since the trains in japan stop running at midnight, it was too late for me to come back to fujinomiya, so yusuke decided to stay with me and keep me company until the trains started rolling). they decided it sounded like fun so we were +2. the girl all the way to the right is yusuke's *secret* girlfriend. i probably shouldnt have told you but im sure you wouldnt tell. right? she spoke english and met us around midnight after she got off work. +3


we stayed at this restaraunt for almost 4 hours. it was called za watami. (even they didnt know what it meant)

cute. (kawaii)

hes hot (literally).

shes hot (figuratively).

this was a little place run by a brazillian friend of yusukes gf.

this map tells you where the bathroom is if you push this button. however its in japanese so i would probably have to use the tree next to it if it were an emergency.

everyone was super tired at this point.

sunrise in hamamatsu.

at the train station. one last look.

so that was that. it was fun. going to do it again. ill let you know.

also bonus.

take a look at the sign that says kool. its the black one with white writing. it was small and dark and high up so the pic isnt so great. but if you can make out what kind of music they play im sure youll groan or smile. oh japan. silly silly japan. you have no idea.