I spend a LOT of time and energy bitching about the things that suck dog's balls about being a whitie and living in Japan. The stares, (although as my husband pointed out, if I really hated them that much I wouldn't have platinum blond hair... good point!) the old dudes making signs with their arms, the fact that most people just assume you don't speak Japanese, the shock and amazement at the fact us barbaric whities have the motor skills to operate a pair of chopsticks... You know, stuff like that. But last night was one of those times where being a whitie and having a white-ish baby with you really came in handy.
Last night Ryo-chan had a nomikai so I dropped him off and then went to the school to do a bit of work while Ash was hanging out with the in-laws. As I was finishing off some work I heard the familiar summer sounds of the bon odori (summer festival) going on in the paddock near our house. Does anyone else think the bon odori songs sound like Bollywood movie music!? No, just me?! I swear to god every time I hear them I think of being in an Indian restaurant, which then leads to fantasies of bastard hot curries and sweet sweet nan bread... Ooops, just had to wipe some drool of the keyboard...
Anyway, seeing as though it was a Friday night, and with Daddy away and no sexy European man to have an affair with in sight, I made the executive decision to take Ash for a look at the festival. So got home and MIL was out the front getting Ash's shoes on, she had also made the executive decision to go to the festival, so cool, 'let's go together!!' was her enthusiastic response!
So off we toddled, crazy MIL, the little half-blood and I. What a trio! When we got there, there was the usual neighbourhood gossip mongers there to greet and a few students who seemed to be in disbelief that I had a life outside of teaching them English for an hour every week, and we also met a few kids from Ash's kindy who were there. It was noice, very friendly, very local.
For anyone who has never been to a bon odori, it is basically usually a big field, with a big arse tower in the middle where old dudes bang drums, ring bells and play the bollywood like (but in Japanese!) music. Then a bunch of, I'm going to say 90% old-ish ladies, do a traditional dance around the tower, although last night was a pretty good mix of ages and even a few of the blokes were getting into it! There are also lanterns all around making it very 'Asian pretty.' Then along one side of the field there is a line of little stalls with games for kids, various food stalls and places where kids can catch goldfish.
So we watched the dancing for a while and Ash had a go at waving his hands round like an old J-woman and all was well, until a lady from down the road grabbed me and INSISTED I dance behind the teacher. Fuuuuuucccccckkkkkkk.
Everyone was looking at me for being the token white girl anyway, I really didn't want to draw more attention to myself, but she's a lovely old duck and was quite persuasive, literally shoved me into the non-stop circle of dancers! So I fumbled after the sensei and inevitably clapped in all the wrong places and kept turning the wrong way. I must have looked like a big dick but Ash seemed chuffed I was making a dick of myself and all the old dudes standing round watching were very encouraging and yelling things like , "Ohhhhh VERY GOOD!!" I did two times round the circle and then ducked out, discreetly as I could.
By this time, Ash was sick of the dancing and was looking with wide eyes at all the kids running around with toys and flashing devil horns on their heads, it was also at this point that both MIL and I realised we had left the house without our wallets. After some discussion MIL decided to run home and grab her wallet so we could get Ash his flashy things and go home. So off she went. Ash and I then did a little walk along the stalls to see what was on offer, everyone was very friendly but then we came to the balloon stall and 3 drunk old Occhans struck up a conversation with me, or should I say yelled random English at me and then hoped I'd respond...
DRUNK 1- Ohhhhh America!? America!
ME- Oh, err, no, Australia!
DRUNK 1- AUSTRALIA!!! Errrr KOALA, KANGAROO!!!!
ME- Yes!! That's it! (I was surprisingly cheerful, how could you not be, he was a pissed old geezer on the job at a summer festival!?)
DRUNK 2- Ohhhh I went to Australia!
ME- Really, how was it??
DRUNK 2- TOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL!!!! HE IS OCTOPUS!! (pointing to a bald Drunk 3)
ME- Oh, really...?
DRUNK 3- What's octopus?! Ohhh, tako!! Yes! Yes! I am Takooooooo!!!!!
This banter went on for a while as the drunk guys' families looked on in slight embarrassment. After a few minutes talking, Drunk 1 scurried off and came back with free juice for Ash, and free beer for me. Thank you Drunk 1! Then drunk 2 gave Ash AND his friend from kindy (a little girl) a balooney thing, saying they should get married when they were older to keep the international marriage going! Ummm what the...? THEN drunk 3 scurried off to the toy table and gave Ash an array of free flashy things. So we ended up with all the stuff we needed, I called MIL and told her not to bother coming back, we were given all the goodies on account of being white! Looooovvveeee being a whitie!
Incidentally, on the way home, we encountered another whitie, quite rare in our little corner, he may have been on homestay, he had the awkward teenager look about him, anyway, MIL gives him a random "hello" and then said to me, "Who was that!?" To which, I replied, "Who are all these millions of Japanese people??" and even that was pretty ironic because she actually did know most people who were around us...
A good night was had by all though, the drunk dudes looked chuffed for having communicated with an alien, Ash got flashy free shit, I got free beer and Ryota came home full of beef and liquor from the nomikai!
The top 5 things about being a whitie in Japan...
1) You get given free shit at bon odoris.
2) Your whole life feels like one big holiday.
3) You have the freedom to bitch freely and without consequence about Japanese systems and traditions.
4) If you're an ugly, nerdy white ranga you can get a decent looking girlfriend (although she'll probably be a gaijin hunter... beware the gaijin hunter!!!)
5) Life is never boring.