Experience Together, Learn Together
There were a couple hundred people in attendance, including myself and my friend 愛さん (ai-san), pictured herein. I met all kinds of new folks, both Japanese and foreign, and it was a mix of about 2/3 Okinawans and 1/3 foreigners (外人) like me. They had food and short speeches, and made all of us foreigners get up and introduce ourselves in Japanese. I went first because they literally had to drag me up on stage and so I was right next to the MC when she started.
The reason they had to drag me was because I thought they were going to make me sing, because six Nepali students had sung a popular folk song from their homeland, Resham Firiri.
I love singing informally, but I am terrible at solo singing because I can’t remember the words to save my life. I can memorize tunes in seconds, and do so automatically, but I always make up my own words, because words simply don’t stick in my brain. They did not succeed in getting me to sing on stage, though of course people around me got serenaded by my usual inimitable and indomitable (but not inimical) singing self.
Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum
or: The Little Drummer Boy
I snagged a picture of my second Taiko experience, which happened at the International Friendship Party I mentioned above. The accompanying music was played by a live singer who also played a traditional Okinawan three-stringed instrument called a “sanshin.” (literal translation is “three strings.” clever, eh?) The sanshin is kind of like a banjo, but with snakeskin covering the body.
Money Money Money (Must Be Funny... In The Rich Man’s World) - Abba
I had a $20 bill in my wallet, so I got to try to explain why America chose to revere Andrew Jackson. I didn’t bother justifying it, though, as I hate Andrew Jackson with passion and fury. Given his genocide of Native Americans, immortalizing him on our iconic twenty-spot makes my blood boil. Andrew Jackson may have done some good in his presidency and his life, but for me, the Indian Act of 1830, with the resulting Trail of Tears and ethnic cleansing, are inexcusable. His inclusion on American money is a slap in the face to Native people and those who support them. Yes I feel strongly about this.
Capital, My Girl, Just Capital!
I snuck in a visit to Shurijo Castle Park this past weekend as well. Shurijo was the capital of the Ryukyu kingdom, the old name for Okinawa. As with other Japanese castles (and any other dwellings), you have to take your shoes off to enter. They give you a plastic bag as you enter, and then you carry your shoe bag around with you while visiting the castle. It is odd to be walking around with hundreds of other people, who are making almost no noise (the visitors are almost all Japanese), yet constantly hear the loud crinkling of the plastic bags. Incongruity.
The castle was awe-inspiring, though. It took me about an hour to bike there, but only fifteen minutes to bike back. Guess which way is uphill? I know where I’m going if there is a tsunami! I walked around the walls and castle for a couple hours, talked to a bunch of people, and generally disported myself with great abandon.
And that, my friends, is that!
Until next week,