Monday, July 21, 2008

Tedako Fest

It's *way* past my bedtime right now, so if this blog post gets all rambly and nonsensical, that's why. I just want to get these pictures posted right now so I'll come back and edit the insanity out later if necessary :)

Yesterday Lee and I went to the Tedako Fest in Urasoe City, the third-largest city on Okinawa. "Tedako" means "children of the sun" which is hopefully more fun than the Children of the Corn, heh. You can read an article all about Tedako Fest here if you're interested. Or you could just scroll down and look at the pictures; Lee took over 300 but I'm only sharing 10. Seriously, if we just put on some music, we could flip through the photos really quickly and it would be like a movie!

Ok, the festival took place at an athletics park in Urasoe, which was really nice. There were buildings all around and a walkway that encircled the main arena; that walkway is where they set up all the food booths and carnival games and such. Here's one of the buildings that surround the arena:

The main attractions were down in the arena area; they covered a lot of the grass with blue tarps and that's where everyone sat, and groups performed in a roped-off area in the center. The performers were kind of a mixed bag, everything from kids' groups doing simple traditional dances to a group of probably 100 older women holding something that looked like bathroom poufs, but I didn't see what they did with them because we were walking around other areas of the festival when they performed. The first group we saw kind of reminded me of an aerobics dance exercise video or something. But what we liked the best was the taiko drummers!

Several taiko groups performed and in my opinion they always had the best and most colorful costumes. They have the oddest shoes though; they have thin and flexible soles on them, kind of like those socks you can buy in the winter time that have the treads on the bottom of them, but these shoes have the big toe separated from the other toes. Just weird. Not sure you can see that even if you click on the pictures to make them bigger, but if you don't believe me then leave a comment and I'll dig up a picture where I'm *sure* you can see the funky toe cleavage.

So this taiko group had the red-and-white guys towards the back, and a group of about a half-dozen guys with the bigger drums in the front, plus the star performer--a little kid of about 2 or 3. We figured he had to be the child of one of the other performers.

He stayed out there through the whole performance, hitting his little drum and doing pretty close to what the adults were doing with their choreographed dance. So funny!

So far as I can tell, when a taiko group performs, they have some musicians providing the music and they accent with the drum beats. So here's the music group for the drummers; those funky little banjo-looking things they have are called sanshin, a traditional Okinawan instrument. If you think of the stereotypical Eastern music with a plunky kind of stringed instrument, that's what this sounds like. I'll watch Karate Kid II to see if you can hear a sanshin in that movie to give you a reference :)

Here's a performer from a different taiko group; Lee got several good pictures of him but I'm just sharing one so I don't bore you all to tears and then you stop reading my blog and then I sit here alone typing to myself. Ok, see, I told you it was past my bedtime and I get incoherent as I get sleepier.

Ok, so how about a discourse on Japanese fashion...quite a few of the ladies (and several of the men) were wearing kimonos. Lee wondered if they'd be really hot but it looked to me like they were made of a single layer of cotton fabric, so that wouldn't be too bad. I saw a lot of beautiful floral patterns, some with chrysanthemum, hibiscus, cherry blossoms, morning glories, and those are just the flowers I recognized. All kinds of colors and patterns for the main part of the kimono and usually a solid-color sash to go with it. Lee asked these two ladies if he could take their picture and they graciously obliged.

I saw a *lot* of people do the peace sign for pictures :) Even little bitty girls were wearing kimonos, I saw one little girl who was maybe 4 or so who had on a Hello Kitty kimono (Lorelai Gilmore was right, Hello Kitty has conquered Japan! And if you didn't watch the show Gilmore Girls that reference is totally lost on you). I got Lee to take this picture of some tweens as they walked by; I like kimono butt shots since then you can see the beautiful sashes and how they tie.

And one more kimono butt shot just for good measure.

I also saw a lot of people wearing short sets out of the same kinds and patterns of fabric as the kimonos. They were kind of like a very baggy version of scrubs with knee-length shorts. Japanese women's fashion seems to run towards the body-obscuring and baggy end of the spectrum, even when they wear Western-style clothes, although there are some (usually girls in their 20s I would guess) who wear the more form-fitting fashions. Many of them wear t-shirts with English phrases printed on them, and some of them are pretty hilarious but I can't remember any of them right now so you'll have to take my word for it. :p One of these days we'll take a field trip out to a mall and write down all the funny things we see printed on shirts.

Once the sun went down it was actually pretty pleasant outside, although still humid (as ever). At about 8 o'clock the traditional dance groups finished up, and then we got to hear an Okinawan rock concert. Really, the music sounded a lot like what you'd hear on the radio in the States, but of course all the words were in Japanese. I wouldn't mind having a CD of it; I have a CD of bellydance music that's all in Turkish and that doesn't stop me from bopping along to it and singing what I'm sure is nowhere close to the real words, so I'm sure I could do the same with a Japanese CD. Actually I'll miss the sanshin stuff too when we leave here so maybe next time we go out shopping in town I'll look for some music. I know I saw some in a shop on Kokusai Street...anyway, at 9:00 they had a fireworks display which was quite good. Not quite Disneyland fireworks, but certainly better than what we had for the 4th of July.

Lee and I have figured out a system for ordering food when we don't speak much Japanese beyond "hello" and "thank you" and the person selling the food likely doesn't speak any English either. You point at what you want, then you hold up however many fingers to tell them how many you want. They nod and then they hold up fingers to tell you how much to pay for it. We managed to get some teriyaki chicken on a stick, corn on the cob, and a couple of Cokes using this method, so hey, it works. We decided to go with that rather than eating American stuff like hot dogs on a stick or corn dogs or chili cheese fries. Now, if they'd had funnel cakes, then I would have gotten one of those! They also had chow mein noodles, fried rice, and I think I saw one booth that sold sushi (ick!).

Festivals seem to be a pretty frequent occurrence on Okinawa so I'm sure we'll get to attend more in the future. But for now, that's all the news that's fit to print, and I'm going to sleep!


adifrog said...

I'm glad you got some kimono shots. I knew you'd see them eventually!

Anonymous said...

Hello Christy Lynn Walker Sanford!!! It's Robin Cencarik here in Arlington, TEXAS!!! Hope this finds you doing well. I really enjoy your blog. You're a great writer. Had lunch with your mom and showed her a few of my scrapbook stores in Waxahachie. Yes, sounds far away but not really. She looks fabulous and was excited about her upcoming new job. Oh, and her little journey out your way in the fall. I hope you're enjoying Okinawa. I was fortunate enough to visit Tokyo and Osaka back in 1999 and 2000. What a blast! Now I'm inspired to scrapbook those photos....I just hope I can come up with some journaling! Best run for now. Please take care of you and Lee and enjoy yourselves! Love and Prayers, Robin