Sunday, September 20, 2009

Taiko drums and Tea

Not too much going on yesterday. I went down at two to help my host mom with the tea ceremony stuff, but I’m ashamed to report that my pitiful, nerve-damaged feet couldn’t do it this time, and I had to stand up, which prompted them to bring me a folding chair, with unintentionally made me feel like a douche. After going through Harumi’s ceremony, my host mom went into the main tea room to assist someone else, leaving me, Harumi and this other, beautiful older lady to help teach me a few of the basics. I won’t write everything down here because it would be both confusing, and very long and boring. Basically, I learned how to bring in and unload the tea set (what order, how many inches from what to what, etc.), as well at what to say, and the very intricate and impossibly complicated method for folding and unfolding the cleaning rag. You never thought it could be so hard. When I got back to my room I had to write it all down so I’d remember (four pages). After my lesson, they gave me some treats and sent me merrily on my way.

I didn’t realize it, but today is Shibuya’s main festival day, so when I went, all but one of the main roads were closed to traffic (how they managed that, I’ll never know), and I got to see them carrying their big shrines through, though instead of just having the one big Omikoshi like we did, they had about five or six big ones, and each one was carried by a specific team of people, rather than a mish-mash of teams. The place was flooded with people, and festival volunteers were everywhere, lining the streets, young and old. I count myself especially lucky, because as I was walking down the street, I happened upon the place where they were doing a Taiko drum performance. I took some pictures and some video, though neither do it justice. The big drums were so loud that you could hear the metal gates of the building shaking with every beat, and see the windows shaking. I must have stayed there at least an hour, just watching them. They did all sorts of different performances: some mostly with clackers, some with small drums, some with large drums, some with the huge drums, some with a flutist. Only when they took a break did I finally disperse back into the crowd, and on my way back, I was tempted to have a seat and wait to see if they’d do some more, since they were still milling around, but I was afraid my body wouldn’t walk me all the way back if I waited.

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