Spent the weekend in the outskirts of Tokyo playing my trumpet with our village shobodan (volunteer fire-department) rappa team. The district of Tokyo (Musashinomurayama) where we played has no trumpet team, so they asked us to come play for their annual "start of the shobodan year" ceremony.
I hate these things. Put aside the four hour bus ride, another big party with luxurious food that I am pretty much sick of by now, repeating my story (which gets shorter and shorter every time I tell it) of how/why I came to live in this village - both to almost every member of the hosting shobodan, and to all six of the "companion" hostesses which I have mentioned many, many times on this blog, explaining where Michigan is "No, it is not near Texas, nor is it near Vancouver, nor Florida. Yes! Chicago is the capitol of Michigan! Lets move on."
Then, the next day we have to stand around and wait for an hour or more for the ceremony to begin, and then we have to stand motionless, at attention, for another two hours while people give speeches and receive awards and what not.
On the other hand, as I have mentioned before, I love these things. For all the (really good) bad food, it is fun to have face time with the other members of my community. I am luckier than some of the other people my age, in that I am a freak, so even the "important" people want to talk to me. Once we get past the tiresome topics I mentioned above, I learn some very helpful things. I was completely content to have a long conversation about farming and rice with the head of musashimonuriyama? Dang! I forgot how to spell it... fire brigade.
And, while not all of the members were able to make it, most of those of them that did seemed like kids in a candy store when we had free time in "the big city". I, on the other hand, stayed in the hotel and had some quality bonding (drinking) time with two of the members who I rarely have the opportunity to speak with.
As I said last time, and the time before, it is a pain in the ass, and I disagree with much of the concept, I am still looking forward to do it until I just get too busy to attend the nightly practices in what I hope will soon be our peak business time.
The photo below shows some of the "junior fire brigade". There was a guy in uniform yelling and scolding them like the drill sergeant in An Officer and a Gentleman. The youngest girl looked like she was about five years old, and they are teaching them to blindly obey militaristic orders. I was even more shocked when I came home and Tomoe told me that most schools (at least when she was in school) teach all the kids how to march in step and do "About face!!", and "Forward march!!", etc.
It would be great if they just focused on helping people and preventing/fighting fires...