The end of May features Hita’s largest festival. It was my second time so I was able to understand it a little better. Last year I had only been in Japan for less than a month and I was still reeling from all the newness.
Kankousai, to say the least, is quite amazing! There are parades, music, games, and food stalls line the streets. It is advertised as the Mikuma river sightseeing festival. But I’ve learned that it was originally to celebrate the opening of the river for fishing season. Whatever it once was has significantly adapted with the changing capitalist times.
I’m torn. The centerpiece of the festival is the fireworks that happen on Saturday and Sunday night. From my experience, they are the most spectacular displays I’ve ever seen. Each night features ninety minutes of incredible display. About twenty or so companies sponsor five minutes or so of fireworks and their names are ignited for all to see during the show. It’s brilliant. Advertise and show off at the same time!
But the parade was the true centerpiece of the festival for me. As I watched the parade Sunday afternoon, I was struck with what I can only call giddiness. There were ladies performing a traditional dance and I was filled with happiness. I don’t know where it came from. Then there was more. Each group that passed featured more dancing and music. It looked like the participants were having a blast even though it was so hot, and it was infectious.
From beginning to end I saw hundreds of people dancing. I saw little kids dancing. I saw teenagers dancing, adults, seniors, octogenarians. All shapes and sizes and all styles of dance. There were traditional dances and play acting and hip hop. And all of them appeared to be having fun.
There doesn’t appear to be a social stigma against dancing in Japan. If there is, I haven’t seen it. But there is definitely no stigma against what kind of person can do what kind of dance.
I find it refreshing.
Back home, doing something you’re not supposed to results in coldness from all sides. I play traditional folk music and I don’t fit the stereotype. I would be asked why by all sorts of people. Over time I developed a hard shell but sometimes the pressure intensified. It made me feel unwanted and shunned. It’s difficult to keep going. I’d be so fearful of the reaction that I began to dread gigs. I tried to stay optimistic but I don’t know if I met the challenge. I thought that if I just forged ahead it would get better and I would be accepted.
I’ve done a lot of things I wasn’t supposed to. I wasn’t supposed to finish college and I certainly wasn’t supposed to travel abroad. It’s a good thing I’m stubborn.
Experiencing that it is okay to try something new and different without being crucified is wonderful. I think it is an important lesson that we should all take to heart. Share your culture and experiences, try something new, and meet new people.
What are some things you weren’t supposed to do?