お盆 


(sorry for the picture quality, they were taken with my Nintendo 3DS)

I would be lying if I said I wanted to dance in Obon (お盆) this year. Ray (he’s the one in purple) asked me to dance a few months ago after my dad died and I said I would. He held me to it. While I’m studying the language and tend toward the otaku I can’t say I knew what I was getting myself into. I’ve never been to Obon festival, so I didn’t really know what dancing in it entailed. Apparently lots of practice!

The dances are mostly simple and repetitive, so you can pick them up fairly easily, but there are a lot of them! I think ten or twelve. We were only able to make it to two of the practice sessions where we trudged along in a very tight circle approximating arm movements and not doing much footwork (though KC stepped hard on my foot twice :P) At the actual event the circles were much larger and more evident that I was often on the wrong foot (I blame being left-handed). So, even though I didn’t not dance very well I still had a lot of fun.

Ray’s wife Diane lent me one of her kimonos. I had no idea what wearing one entailed. Someone must help you put it on. The kimono itself is relatively harmless. It’s the bow! OMG they tie that thing like a corset! Beneath the bow they tie the kimono with regular ties. Then they put a flat piece around your waist the kind of looks like a weight belt (but I think it’s plastic and very flat) and it goes in the front. Then comes the bow which is very long and tied very precisely— and tugged tightly. I don’t think too many people here know how to tie them properly. The lady who helped me dress only knew the one way to tie it. But she did great, it stayed for the whole evening, so I didn’t give anyone a peep show.

You know how you see people wearing kimonos walking with dainty steps? They have to. The kimono only allows a small range of movement. I was unaware of that at first and tried lumbering about with my normal lurchy steps to no avail. It’s also hard to breathe in and forces very rigid posture. No slouching for me! And hot! This one was made out of cotton. I can’t imagine wearing the elaborate silk ones. It was in the high eighties or low nineties on the day of the festival and got quite hot!

Ray got KC and I an “instructional DVD” of the Obon dances, so next year I’ll be prepared. Anyone know where I can get a flat pokémon fan? Or some カチカチ?

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