Foreigners on parade!
Posted on Friday, October 10th, 2003 at 6:09am by Brett.
(Friday, October 10th, 2003 at 7:09pm Japanese Standard Time)
This week is the Tsukuba University Festival. In the grand tradition of really liking national holidays, Monday is a national holiday. The net result is that we have a 4 day weekend. Good times!
My friend Shannon and I were biking around campus to see if the festival had been set up. They were putting stuff up everywhere...stages and platforms and booths and kiosks, but the festival doesn't open until tomorrow at 11. It looks like it will be good times.
On our way home, we ran into a group of our other friends and stopped to chat. They were getting ready to practice for the parade that's on Sunday. Neither Shannon nor I particularly wanted to be in this parade thing, but...shall we say circumstances (DIRTY LIARS!) caused us to reconsider, and so we decided to go to the practice.
They weren't too keen on giving lots of information, so it was a "need-to-know" kind of thing. They told us to go to a elementary school. We knew this was a parade sponsored by TISA, and that you were supposed to be wearing clothes native to your country. The USA, being a faily new country, doesn't really have any culturally "native" clothes, so we're wearing our blue jeans.
Anyway, we get to the elementary school, and apparently there's a band that we're marching with. Alright...we can do this. There are only 7 of us marching. So the turn out was a bit down, but that's ok.
This marching band was amazing. These are elementary kids...none older than 10 or so. They had a little performance that we got to watch and I was completely blown away. I can say without a doubt that this marching band could win a contest if put up against ANY highschool marching band that Jackson High School competed against or saw at football games...including the JHS Marching Band. The kids were amazing.
So they finish and we (the gaijin) get shuffled back to a far side of the field they were marching on. We were then informed that they are going to make a circle, and we need to go in the middle. And that they are going to play a song (a Japanese pop song) and we are going to sing and dance. All seven of us looked at each other and thought "RUN!".
And it was really that bad. We were in a circle of about 100 Japanese children. There were 7 of us. None of us knew this song to sing it. The guy in charge kept telling us to smile, which meant "Stop looking horrified."
He had us form another circle in the middle of the larger one, face outward, lock arms, and then spin. It wasn't nice...
Afterwards, the 7 of us hung around on the field. We had been getting stares and looks and "Hi!!!!"s the entire time we were there. Finally, these 4 girls came up to us, one at a time, and said "HI!" then would run off.
One of them finally came close enough and I talked to her, but she ran off giggling. Another one came up and let one of the other guys talk to her...and that seemed to be the cue for the other three to come in. They all came RUNNING in.
Then madness ensued.
I have been studying Japanese for 4 years now, and somehow I missed the lessons in which they teach you how to understand hyper screaming 7 year old Japanese.
It was really funny, though, because they were talking, and we could pretty much understand what was going on. When one of them said "They don't understand anything!" That was OUR cue to start using Japanese, which seemed to impress / terrify them.
I, personally, was trying to teach one of them to say "Ritalin".
It was actually pretty fun. I am, however, dreading this parade on Sunday.