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31 October 2011 § Leave a comment
It’s a few minutes into November.
A couple weeks ago, I had a ninja day with some friends for Dan’s birthday. We went to Iga in Mie prefecture to a ninja residence where we got a tour of a ninja house, watched a weapon demonstration, and then played with some of the weapons. After wandering around and finding a pretty castle, we made the journey to Kyoto, which took around 2.5 hours on the train. Once there, we ate at a ninja themed restaurant. Having just received a brief education on ninjas, however, we were a little disappointed to see all the servers dressed in black “ninja” wear – silly people, ninjas actually wore dark blue clothing because it contrasted less against a night sky, and was less obvious as they disguised themselves as commoners. The restaurant was overpriced, but still fun. Anyway, we had a ninja day, and that’s awesome.
Halloween has passed now. I spent the entire week leading up to it dressed as Sailor Moon. I had three different shifts for my kindergarden visiting job for which I dressed up, and any day that I had kid classes at my normal work, I dressed up. Though most of my kids didn’t know who I was, they were still amused by my appearance, and their parents were able to fill them in. I’ve sort of secretly been hoping since I was 10 years old that I would one day have a talking cat approach me to tell me about some forgotten past and identity and then I would be so cool as I fight crime and fall in love with some dreamy guy who’s probably too old for me. As I got older, I realized that fighting crime at age 14 in a skimpy skirt, while falling for a guy who’s probably in university probably isn’t thing that could happen to me. All the same, I enjoyed pretending this past week.
They don’t do the Halloween thing in Japan. Or England. Or Australia. Or most places, I guess. But downtown Osaka was still the place to be on Saturday night to see everyone out in their best costumes. A couple friends and I biked downtown together – Sailor Moon, Charlie Brown from “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, and a banana (but not fully banana-ed at that point – the only give away being the creepy face paint, as the banana costume was too difficult to bike in). Once we met up with some other people on the Dotombori Bridge, we were virtual celebrities. People gathered around us to take pictures of us and with us. As I biked there, I would hear whispers as I went by – “Sailor Moon! Sailor Moon!”. Occasionally, I humoured people with a cute, “Oshioki yo!” (Her “punch line” from the series in Japanese – I will punish you!) – evoking small bursts of laughter and clapping. We made our way to Ame-mura (America Town, or something) to Triangle Park where it seemed everyone was (not true, though. there were other events happening in other places – like a foreigner’s bar where three of my friends collectively won 60 000 yen – over $700 – for their costumes). All in all, a fun, albeit exhausting night.
This morning I had the pleasure of meeting up with my cousins from the prefecture south of here as their taiko group (Tennon Daiko) performed at a nearby elementary school. It was really cool. I hadn’t actually seen a taiko performance, aside from when my two cousins played briefly for me and our Canadian family back in May. I sat off to the side and enjoyed the show. It was great watching them perform – my cousins looked so happy to be sharing what they love to do. Kids in the audience played air drums, and jumped at the opportunity to try out the real taiko drums at the end.
Into November. I’ve been planning out day trips and weekend trips between now and next August. I have a list of things to buy for friends and family for December. I have a growing list of things I want to do in my short time home. Amazing to think I’ll be back in less than two months. While I’m excited to see what November and December hold, a part of me is always thinking of that moment when I see my family for the first time in nearly 11 months. And that first cup of Tim Horton’s coffee (I’m not that in love with it, but in a strange way, I do miss it). And, of course, my ever dear friends.