Monday, August 23, 2004

Summer of the 2004

Ganguro Girl 1.5 - Flash Games: "Get educated, built and charming; work a job buy gifts and try to get the girl by going on dates with her."

With this simple and suggesting title (thanks Rafa for the present!) we get my opportunity for this summer to make out with no sweat. If no sweating would be possible with this unbearable heat.

Dance Performance
My summer have had few highlights so far, one of them being that I joined a dance class (!!) Hip hop. Why? Well, I was happy with my basketball last year, but it was hard to connect with the guys after the training for having some ramen or talk about our weekend. And going just for the sports training is not that funny, so I quited, lost some shape, then heard about the dance thing and after convincing myself that it was not gay at all I finally joined.
They made a performance recently in the Atsugi 'Trout' Festival (a small name for a small town) and they kicked ass, people will applaud and cheer the song for them more than for the singer.

Japan is a nice place in summer if you like to eat. The neighborhoods and cities all over the country will organize their own festival so it's quite probable that within 25 kilometers from the place you live five different firework shows will be held in July or August. They spend a lot of money there, but I reckon that they earn a lot of money too with the rental of the food stands, you couldn't believe the amount of people that goes to the festivals.
Ayu Matsuri Mikoshi
Portable shrine
In small cities like the one I live there is less people, and the fireworks have more pauses. Before every burst you will be told the sponsor and meaning of the next five minutes display (useless for the viewer, except to know which are the local companies with enough money to spend in this kind of publicity). You can see a lot of kids too, and both the girls and the guys like to dress in the traditional japanese summer clothing.

In the big city there is even more people. It is really hard to walk, and there is more kind of food to choose from. Last Sunday a friend of mine told me that it was some samba festival going on near Roppongi, so we went there to check it out.
fast impression of a crowded festival
people, lights and fast food
It was held in the neighbourhood of Azabu, and altough there was no samba nor fireworks (the samba is this week in Asakusa, I already made plans to go there and check) the atmosphere was crazy. We went to an international area full of shops from all over the world, although of course it was the japanesized version of it, they even brought some guys from Barcelona to prepare Fideuà; they had a big paellera and t-shirts of "Sabado sabadete" which is a (little bit expensive) Catalan restaurant in Ebisu.

Before that festival we had been in a party organized by the Embassy of Venezuela in Japan. I don't get why that obsession with some of the locals with the international. My japanese friends even asked me on our way to Tokyo "but you are international, aren't you?" to which I replied, perplexed, "what do you mean? I am a human being". They meant that I had a lot of foreing friends, which is right. So far from my experience, the Japanese tend to see foreigners in terms of the country they come from, not individually or by their education or background. I guess that coping with this conversations is what it takes; after all being an outsider means that a large number of "first conversations" with the (japanese) people I meet are going to be closer to "where are you from? oh, your japanese is so good" than to "do you like soccer? did you watch yesterday's match?".

When I think I have a good relationship with someone and they ask me something like that and I cannot help thinking "does he see me as Alvaro or as a Spanish friend?" And it also had happened that when I decided to drop a little bit my formality because I believe to have a good relationship with someone she warned me that my japanese was getting worse and that it didn't seem that I respected our friendship. I mean, that kind of close language just looked bad on me, and I don't know if it was because she just had a better impression of me or only because I'm a foreigner. There is plenty of examples like this one, being waiting for a friend which I believed to be close and receiving a call from her telling that she is tired and if it was ok to cancel our dinner. Of course I didn't care, I understood she wanted to rest, but I cannot help to wonder "maybe if I would have been japanese she would have come no matter how tired she was..." which at the end I cannot decide if it's better or worse. But I can see that being a foreigner makes people treat me differently in some occasions, and feeling different (that kind of different) is not nice always.

Well, conclusion: more madness to my weekends when what I need is time to write my report and sleep. I wonder where does it lurk that traditional tatami-room and quiet life often being portrayed in the guide books and novels. Not in Kanto definitely, and my guess is that neither is in Kansai, land of the greedy.

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