August 17th, 2007 by Jeff Leave a reply »

While the previous week was hectic with the new JETs coming in and me doing all their translating for them, this last week everyone has been out of the office on vacation. Most of the smaller shops were shut down at least on Monday and Tuesday for Obon, the yearly national festival where ancestors are believed to come back and visit the world of the living for a short time. Most people take almost the whole week off to go back home and visit their families. I’ve been asked countless times if I went back to visit my own family, and everyone acts surprised when I tell them I’m going to wait until Christmas just like last year. Yeah, I want to fly home during the peak travel season, pay triple or quadruple the normal fares, and fly into 100 degree weather. I suspect there’s a logical disconnect in their thinking somewhere.

No, I stayed in Nakaniida and divvied up the days between riding the motorcycle, spending time with my girlfriend, and spending the day on my own. I even took one day to visit a couple of the new JETs a few towns over, and we played a bit of Mario Party 8 before going off to a barbecue. The weather has been sunny and hot, though the humidity hasn’t really lifted.

Sunday I was on my way back from a date when the girlfriend and I passed a crowd of policemen directing traffic in my hometown. I grabbed my camera and John’s monopod to see if I could snap a couple shots of what was going on. I guess it was the Obon festival and dance for my town (pretty much every town has one). I got there just as things were wrapping up, chatted with some local friends and partook of the offered sake.

Fire, in a brazier
The new teacher Andres, when I told him there were burning braziers, initially thought the event was a re-enactment of Woodstock.

Bon odori (dance) in Nakaniida
The dancers weren’t perfectly in sync, but it was still cool to watch

Woman dancing in front of brazier
Though it looks like I composed this so she was holding fire, this shot was purely accidental.

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This work by Jeff Hiner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.