Sunday, June 15, 2008
Manyouta Festival
As I found out during a welcome party for home stay students in Yamanashishi, there is an annual festival in Manriki Park called the Manyouta Festival. Uta, in Japanese, means song and the whole festival is dedicated to some old chants. Some of the selected home stay students, along with several local elementary students, were chosen to sing these chants on stage during the festival. While performing, they would also get to wear some traditional outfits.


I was asked by the mayor's secretary if I would like to go and wear a costume. I actually helped the mayor practice a speech he would give at the festival in English and I told him I would go to cheer him on, so I figured doing so in costume would make things a bit more fun for me. She picked me up at my house and took me straight to the festival. We got in a spot of trouble over where to park for a bit, but she used her 'i work for the mayor' powers to help us get a close parking spot. We then rushed over to the costume tent, where she helped me pick out my (too small) outfit. Even though I was told the costumes were traditional dress, I highly doubt they had bright pink, yellow, and blue shiny hakuma back in the day. However, I love to dress up, so it was all good. And of course, everyone fawned over seeing me, the gaijin, all dress up. Later, some of the home stay students also arrived and had to dress up, so I didn't feel so alone.


I got on stage and lit a candle and then listened to the mayors speech. After the speech I congradulated the mayor on his English skills and took some pictures with him. I also ran into one of my 6th grade students, who was hosting one of the home stay students and was going to be singing the special chant on stage. I promised her that I would stay and cheer her on.


After the chanting, I headed over to L river, my favorite local bar, with the mayor and his secretary. They mayor had never been to L river, so I was kind of fun to show him where we hang out. The bar master also seemed quite please to have the mayor in his establishment. After a drink or two, we busted out the karaoke. So, yeah, I got to karaoke with the mayor of my town! Crazy!

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