Mary called about something else, then mentioned Saturday’s festival. I told her the food stands were up as of Sunday afternoon; there might be more festival in store. A few hours later she and Annika trotted over. “I’m so glad you didn’t mind coming over here,” I said; “Annika makes this far more legitimate.” “Hey, if there’s a festival I almost can’t help myself,” said Mary; “I’m like a Storm Chaser, but instead—a Festival Chaser!” We settled ourselves on the group tatami mat (no shoes, please) just in time for the opening curtain. Surprise! It’s neighborhood kabuki night!
As far as I could tell, the story was about two bad guys, two regular girls, a female samurai and the female lead character, who was loud and whiny. Her role was unclear. The two regular girls had some tea and talked to Whiny Girl. Then the two bad guys talked to Whiny Girl. The Super Bad Guy gave her a present—a dagger!!—which he then pointed in her face. He and Lesser Bad Guy tied up and beat Whiny Girl, who continued to whine. The regular girls watched and bowed. Then Samurai Woman appeared, cut Whiny Girl’s ropes, killed Lesser Bad Guy, fought Super Bad Guy, killed him and saved the day. There were no extended death scenes; dead people just ran off stage. The regular girls and Whiny Girl thanked Samurai Woman and there was a lot of bowing. El Fin. Annika-chan quickly became enamored with ‘fish! fish!’ For 300 yen she got a little scooper and could scoop as many fish as possible until the paper scoop broke (two). This seemed to make a big impact on her and she kept trying to go back to the ‘fish! fish!’ booth. Kawaii!!
I quickly became UN-enamored with the idea of okonomiyaki, about which I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews. It looked delicious—crepe covered in veggies with a sprinkling of seafood and an egg, then sandwiched under another crepe, topped with sweet soy sauce, mayonnaise and fish flakes. I like all those things separately; together, there was just way too much fish flavor going on. I was pretty hungry so I chowed down until I wasn’t starving, but as soon as taste overpowered hunger it started to make me feel slightly nauseous. Oh well.
The moon rose silently over the shoro—structure holding the huge temple bell. In just a few days, on the night of the Autumn Equinox, the moon will be full. Next followed a magic show which started normally enough with trick flowers, confetti and doves appearing from nowhere. At the end, however, the magician reappeared in a dinosaur costume and climbed inside of a huge yellow balloon, then bounced around the stage to music that reminded me of old school Nintendo. That was weird. Annika had long since headed off to bed and I was thinking it might be time for me to call it a night too. But I stuck around for the next act just in case. An hour of singers and dancers floating across the stage in close succession followed. Most of them were the kabuki actors in different costumes.Whiny Girl reappeared to much applause; I pondered the question Mary and I discussed earlier…is she a cross dresser?? At any rate, she seemed to be well-known among my neighbors. I wonder if (s)he lives nearby. This whole festival was such a delightful surprise (and a fine reward for cleaning the house!). I had no idea anything like this happened around here, much less three blocks from my house. I remember seeing the kids parade by last year and wondering what was going on. I can’t believe I was so close and totally missed all this! The good news is—next year, maybe Chris and I can watch the festivities unfold together!