Karaoke will do strange things to people.
I guess I should start at the beginning. Japan has a lot of holidays. I’m absolutely sure that they are or were once very important for what they represented, but just like Labor Day or President’s Day, they’ve now simply all become an excuse to party or BBQ or get drunk. Preferably all three. My evidence here is twofold. A couple of weeks ago there was a major bank holiday. It was explained to me as “Sea Day.” I was quite sure that I had misunderstood until the fourth or fifth person confirmed it. Nothing would be open because of “Sea Day.”
“Well, what do you do on ‘Sea Day?’”
“You should go to the ocean.”
“Are you going to the ocean?”
“No one goes to the ocean. It’s too crowded.”
I’ll let that little paradox twittle around in the posting area without comment.
My second piece of evidence was uncovered when we got an email from one of the groups in charge of some of us. The email said that there would be a proper booze-up and group outing to watch the fireworks. A follow-up email apologized for not arranging for us to wear costumes. This sounded great! I eagerly asked a Japanese friend what the holiday was for. Then I asked another. Confused with the answers I was getting, I asked several more, never getting much more than, “It’s summer, right? Everyone needs to wear the summer kimono and we’ll watch fireworks.”
I was a bit confounded, and frankly, I’m sure a consultation with Dr. Google would fix me up in no time, but I’m kinda of warming to the idea that there should be a “Sea Day,” and that occasionally, you should just stop worrying about why, and put on your summer kimono (called a yukata – never say this blog ain’t educational) and go watch fireworks.
The first part of the plan went fairly well. Our fearless leader failed to show, but an underling was ok to take charge and lead us into the bowels of the subway to our goal. At first it was kind of exciting – Oooh! Look at that girl in that beautiful kimono! Isn’t it gorgeous? Damn… I’m sorry about this, but at the risk of turning this into another War and Peace of a blog post, I feel I need to digress for a moment.
Again, I’m no fashion plate, but here we go. The kimonos were almost uniformly beautiful – I even got a couple on film up on flickr. Some were subtle and clean, some were a riot of summer-y colors and patterns. I saw one that I particularly liked that was nearly completely solid in a creamy off-white with a flower curled around the hem – very classy. They were set off with elaborate hairpins in elaborately coiffed ‘dos and broaches, matching bags and sandals – just gorgeous. Then, there were the… others.
First off, full points to the guys accompanying the young ladies in kimonos who bothered to wear one themselves. The male version of the summer kimono looks great and can match well with the woman’s. They look masculine and very stylish – frankly they are a lot more aesthetically pleasing than anything that the poor corporate salarymen wear during the week. Well done gentlemen – you are doing your best to make the less-fair sex less pathetic. Also, a well done goes out to the gaggles of gals in kimono (kimonos?). Very often quite the lovely sight.
The standard guy-gal couple was however, let’s say, less aesthetically pleasing. Alas, most often the male of the species sported a t-shirted and blue-jeans. (You should all know that my little glass house has major structural damage due to, let us say, ‘velocitized geology’)
However, my full scorn is aimed toward those among the Japanese youth, men and women, who A) think that 80’s hair bands were really on to something and we need to give their stylings one more shot. B) think that tan-in-a-bottle should be applied like Tammy Faye’s mascara (too soon? Too soon.) C) Well, ok there’s really only those two, but they were usually combined in the same person. Go ahead – try googling gunguro – well, I think that’s how you spell it anyway… You’ll see what I mean.
Ok, digression over.
Oh, for crying out loud. I haven’t even gotten to the fireworks or the karaoke bit yet. Not even time to proofread. Hmmph. This’ll have to be a serial post. More later.