Sunday, August 1, 2010

Yosakoi, Yosakoi, hake yoi yoi yoi!

Us in front of the crazy van (I of course got to stand next to the cutey that is kuru kuru hair boy tomotaka)
Friday was my first enkai/welcome party (as well as Pred's going away party). Enkai's are.... an interesting phenomenon, to say the least. They gather a bunch of awkward co-workers together, liquor them up enough to gain some courage, and then set them loose, allowing for bumbling movements and lots of strange conversation. I talked with some of the most awkward men that evening.... but I had a lot of really wonderful conversations too. People were genuinely having fun talking to me.

After the initial enkai, there is a tradition of having a nijikai, or second after party. We went karaoke-ing and I was basically the only one who sang the entire time.... which was fun! But kinda lame that no one else wanted to. They all paid for us foreigners, but hardly sang. Just ate loads of food.

Yesterday (Saturday), I got to be a part of Aki-shi's Yosakoi festival. To be perfectly honest, I didn't think I was being a part of the actual FESTIVAL when I signed up. I thought we were practicing ALL DAY for the festival... but no. I got there at 10:30, 30 minutes before everyone else came to get dressed, and learned the WHOLE DANCE. Luckily, it wasn't too hard... but still. I was kinda thrown in there.

The yukata for our group (which was anyone who wanted to participate from our city office) were specialized and had tigers (for the hanshin), the Aki symbol, and eggplants, which I found really really amusing. We also had to wear these really interesting hats that were circles folded in half and kept to our heads with red ribbon. The whole thing made me nearly melt.... but it was really fun dancing around town all day, going from place to place with our crazy van and crazy band (who would change costumes randomly). We first did our rounds at retirement homes and danced for the old folks, then came back and had a curry dinner with everyone in the group. I can't believe how many people are happy that I am here and was willing to participate in the festival... so many drunk people came up to me and told me how a foreigner hasn't participated in years, and that they were so glad I chose Aki as the place I came to work at.

It was also really nice being able to meet a bunch of the younger women from the office building, as well as see that there are in fact young, attractive men in this city (and a few in our building!!).

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