happy 鎮座記念 to you

10/8/11   –   21:46

Sorry for the sparse entries. School’s been cranking up the work-load lately and I haven’t had time to make questionably witty observations about life in the Nipponz.

Let’s see… what’s happened since the last entry…

– Joining the 吹奏楽部 [Wind Symphony] at school. It’s been over 2 years since I’ve been in band, but that doesn’t stop me from liking to play. I met a girl who plays clarinet in the wind symphony and asked her if it was okay for the gaijin to join the club. Success! The first thing they showed me was their video from the prefecture competition playing an arrangement of the Princess Mononoke soundtrack. They needn’t have shown me anything more. Japanese concert bands have a reputation for being extremely awesome and this one is no exception. Everyone has exceptionally nice tone and most pleasant of all, everyone is in tune. As nice as that is, whenever I hear someone sound off, 9 times out of 10 it’s going to be me. -_-;; Anyway. Practice is two or three times a week and we have a concert in December. Oh, and everything is student run. The only professional help they get is a conductor from the Osaka Conservatory that comes twice a month. The discipline!

– Learning more about Scandinavia from Miina.

Me: “I feel like all the Swedes in Florida hang out at IKEA.”
Miina: “All the Swedes in Norway work at McDonalds.”

Apparently the wages are higher in Norway so the Swedes take the jobs that the Norwegians don’t want. This knowledge doesn’t stop me from being unable to tell Swedes and Norwegians apart.

– The magical bell volume knob. I had a presentation in Speaking class recently and during it, the bell rang. [Not like an annoying high school bell. It was a pleasant electronic melody chime like you hear in anime sometimes.] The teacher ran to the wall and promptly turned the volume of the bell down until it stopped. Everybody found this quite amusing.

– Yuuya’s 合コンs. [goukon] (n.) outing/party in which young people go to meet each other. Host-mom is so interested in how they turn out. Even though she says it’s okay if he doesn’t get married, I think she secretly wants him to. I guess he’s reaching that age…

Also, she teases him for drinking 梅酒– [umeshu] (n.) alcoholic drinks derived from plums–instead of beer. Part of me wants to do so as well.


Well anyway, the real meat of this entry is going to be what I did today, which is go to Fushimi Inari Taisha again and hang out with Go and Julia.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Er… maybe I don’t. Well, here’s what I think you’re thinking: “Fushimi Inari? Again?” Well stop imaginary thinking that because I had a good reason for going. It’s Fushimi Inari’s THIRTEEN-HUNDREDTH birthday. Yes. The date of enshrinement was the year 711. My original thought was, “Oh my God that cake is going to be huge.” And then I found a schedule of festivities that had a whole line-up of traditional Japanese performing arts on it. Host-mom said: “Well, if you ask me, a lot of those things are actually not that interesting, but it’s part of Japanese culture, so it’d be good for you to go at least once.” Sweet deal, I decided to go.

Also, it just so happens that a friend of Julia and myself, Go, was going to be in the Kansai area that day because of an induction ceremony to the company he’s been hired at. [Congratulations again! :D] So we decided to go off to Fushimi Inari together.

The shrine was filled with a lot of priests in full Shinto garb and women in kimono [even though the weather decided to be indecisive again and got a little too hot for those kinds of clothes]. Among the performances were:

– 扇舞, a sort of fan dance set to very soft music and really really old court poetry. It’s very slow and lacks any sort of organized rhythm, but it was aesthetically pleasing nonetheless.

– 和太鼓, also known as taiko, which was the complete opposite of the previous performance. It’s all fanfare and energy and power. The melody is provided by a set of two japanese-flute players and they roused the crowd into lots of clapping and random yelping. Very entertaining, I’d say.








– 雅楽 [gagaku] (n.) traditional court music. This is an orchestra of traditional Japanese instruments including several types of flutes, mouth-organs, and percussion instruments from like the Heian period or even before. It’s about as Japanese sounding as it gets and it changes the atmosphere completely. I really love gagaku because it makes me feel like I’m in the Japan of the Genji Monogatari or something. The dancing monster doesn’t do anything to detract from the feeling. I fully intend on buying a 笛 at some  point.








As the evening progressed, the lanterns came on and the whole shrine was illuminated. Not only the main buildings up front, but the tunnels of torii were awash in a soft blue light. Very reminiscent of 狐火 [kitsunebi]–(n.) foxfire–which is appropriate because of the abundant representations of the fox messenger of the god Inari.








As offerings in honor of the shrine, companies from all over Japan sent in a mountain of food and drink offerings for Inari. On the left is a mountain of fruit. On the right is a mountain of vegetables. There are gigantic fish and all sorts of shellfish strewn all over them in a container on the left. In the back is a solid wall of alcohol. Not bad, Inari.

And that’s that. Happy birthday! You’re not looking too bad for 1300. And your party was pretty bitchin’. Even if there wasn’t any cake.

One Response to “happy 鎮座記念 to you”
  1. hopeinjapan says:

    I like how you’ve already posted this! lol

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