Summer is in full swing here in Tokyo. It seems like every neighborhood I pass through has some kind of festival or celebration going on. It's been quite an exciting shift in energy to see so many people out and about and interacting.
It all kicked off about 3 weeks ago when a friend of mine invited me over to his place to catch the fireworks. Unlike the usual fireworks displays in the states, (Santa Cruz not included) Japanese shows last for a good hour and a 1/2. People forewarned me, but I was still astonished to see just how long they keep em coming.
The fireworks, however, are only part of the entertainment. Male and females alike turn out in what they call Yukattas. (sp) Prior to attending the show I'd been mistaking these outfits for kimonos. But a friend of mine pointed out there are far fewer layers to these leisurely get ups.
I can't really describe the electricity in the air, but there was certainly a great deal of anticipation in the air as hoards of people were all flocking in the same direction. It reminded me a lot of the night of the free Rolling Stones concert we caught down in Rio De Janeiro. The whole city seemed to be walking in the same direction. Add to that the traditional attire, and you've got the setting of some authentic Japanese style celebrating!
Oh...did I forget to mention drinking?!? Please believe the one constant at any gathering out here is drankin! I don't know if there's any other place on the planet where you can buy "Chu-hi's" but if you happen to be in one, make a mad dash for the convenient pronto! They're sort of like a hard lemonade, but they also come in grapefruit. And they sneak up on you something serious! It only took me twice to find my bearings with them. They taste so good you don't even realize how potent they are. Til the next thing you know, you're feeling a little happier than you're supposed to be. CHU-HI's!! Remember the name...and don't say I didn't warn you!
But back to the fireworks, I made my way to the Sumida River where they had two launch sites. Just so happened my man lived in the neighborhood and he invited a whole crew of international folks out to check em from his roof. The show itself was...aiiiiight. I wouldn't say I had my breath taken away or anything. But I couldn't tell if that was because were on rooftop with a good amount of distance between us and the launch points, or if it was just the duration of the show that kind of dulled the senses. An Hour and a Half!
We got into at-length conversations about all types a meaningless topics, before being reminded by an "Oooooo" that we were supposed to be looking at the sky and not each other. It was cool though.. To say the least.
A few days later, I was riding my bike to Yoyogi park around 7:30-8 at night when I rounded a corner and BAM! Was smack dab in the middle of a quaint little neighborhood festival. There was about a block or so of people dressed up and doing a traditional dance to some seemingly ancient music. I smiled at the sheer randomness of the entire affair. It was one of those moments that really drove home the occasionally elusive truth that I LIVE IN JAPAN! Somehow I manage to forget this from time to time.
Needless to say, Summer is in full swing and this is just a pre-cursor for Oban! Details to follow.