Monday, May 7, 2007

Golden Week...

It's over. Golden Week. Golden Week, the week with so many national holidays in it, most people take it off and entire companies shut down. In Hamamatsu, it's marked by the Hamamatsu Matsuri.

Hamamatsu Matsuri is a 3-day and night revelry. During the day, there's kite flying at Nakatajima Dunes, and at night the downtown area shuts off traffic so neri (neighborhood parade groups) can wear happi (short tunics with kanji on them) and pull yatai (beautifully decorated and lit wooden carts in which musicians ride) up and down the street while blowing bugles and whistles and beating drums.

It's quite a show. I went Friday night by myself and ended up eating a huge meal at Tengu, the underground izakaya (Japanese restaurant/pub).

Monday was my first day back at work. Most of our high school students spent their Golden Weeks studying or participating in club activities at their schools. The work never lets up for them. One girl had a welcome party for new members of the Drama Club.

Welcome parties are another fixture of Japanese school and business culture. In April, the school year begins and new employees enter various companies. In order to foster the proper team-oriented environment, initiates are immediately involved in these welcoming ceremonies and celebrations.

Other students, the older ones, weathered visits from friends and family. In some cases, the visitors had to be shuttled off into the houses of still other families... kind of a domino effect. In typical Japanese style, family and social obligations led most of my students into biting off almost more than they could chew.

Still, while they roll their eyes and complain in my class, I get the idea they really enjoy doing these things. Especially if it was a thing well-done. Or maybe not...

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