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Sunday, 01 January 2012

Memoirs of a Koshimoto - Page 4

Written by Andrea Oikawa
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    Once my face was passable as historic Japanese royalty, the entire process had taken nearly two hours.  Morning routines in Edo times must have been quite the ritual, I thought, as I was fitted into the outer layer kimono along with its large obi belt (there was room to hide my out-of-place modern-day decongestant), tabi socks and traditional sandals.  Which were about two sizes too small. 

      The icing on the cake was the wig, which I was told to test by moving my head.  But not too much.  From that moment I knew headstands were out of the question. 
      The wig master gestured for me to move outside.  Haruka, the one English speaker on the committee, met me there and designated herself as my go-to girl.  “You can have your lunch over there, and we start walking in one hour. I will be walking with you if you need anything. Enjoy.”
      I grabbed one of the provided bento boxes with tuna filled rice balls and sat next to two smoking Samurais.  Did real Samurais smoke cigarettes?
      I was hoping for someone to take a photo of me upon realizing I had no idea what I looked like.  My problem was soon solved, as paparazzi of eager Japanese shutterbugs surrounded me, cameras clicking and flashes flashing.  To add to the Hollywood effect, a local television crew shuffled up and began interviewing me in rapid fire Japanese.  The make-up had the desired effect; my only foreign giveaway was my bumbling language skills.
      The adornment continued as we paraded our way through the centuries old streets of Sakura.  Haruka kept her word, additionally offering green tea bottles en route.  Spectators debated the big question of whether I was foreign or not, calling out to me in Japanese for the answer.  Sets of drums dotted the street-facing shops, with people of all ages singing, drumming and making merry under the sunny skies.  Numerous stops were made for the Meiji-era soldiers to re-create gun fights, and the Samurais to show off their swordsmanship.  My students came out of the woodwork brandishing cameras, waving enthusiastically.SAM 0381
    As we rounded the last parade route corner, a special seating section awaited parade participants for archery demonstrations, singing groups and speeches from local politicians.  Given my complicated clothing and boxed-in location I realized the possible conundrum should the need for a washroom arise.

    After our return to Hotta-tei, the day ended with a closing ceremony and exchanging phone numbers with Haruka.  The excitement of this enchanting day had filled me with energy, but the nagging cold once again made its presence known.  The prospect of scrubbing layers of oily white make up off my face with only cold water was most unappealing, so I resolved to leave it until I was home.

    Just one problem; I needed to stop at my local supermarket.  I’d have forgotten about my modern era jeans and sandals juxtaposed with the striking Edo-era face if it weren’t for the check-out clerk laughing so hard she could barely ring through my provisions.

©Andrea Oikawa

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(Page 4 of 4)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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