I have once again survived another obon week here in Japan. When I lived in Tokyo this simply meant a long weekend in which Tomoe and I had vacation days and we could get away for a bike trip. Living in the countryside though, is a different matter. When Tokyo is a ghost town, small country villages double in population, if only for a day or two as people return home to visit the ancestors' graves.
Obon in the country is not a vacation. Obon in the countryside is possibly the busiest time of the year. The young men (I am considered young here) have to take off of night-work for two weeks in order to attend practice for the local drumming/dancing with a lion costume for the local festival. This year I attended a few practices just to show my face, but with a broken arm I really can't do much drumming. Plus there is the fact that the drummer is an important role, and the roles are usually passed down from father to son. My father doesn't live here so when the son of a local beef farmer moved back this year to take over the family biz, I was promptly out of a drumming job.
He is already set to be the next drummer, so I am worthless. And rightly so. If thy are going to spend time teaching someone to drum, it should be someone who has ties to the area. There is always the chance that we or I pack up and leave, so investing time in training a drummer who may not be here in a few years is kinda stupid.
So I skipped the festival this year. I also skipped out on the full day of walking from house to house playing and dancing for our dinner (actually playing and dancing for cash to fund night of drinking and debauchary with hostesses imported from the next village).
Though I actually like the actual event and walking from house to house, I am happy to have been able to skip some practices. Sometimes, having bum shoulder has its advantages.
While I had to go to the hospital the day of the parade, luckily we were here when the troup passed by and they played their song and danced their dance for us. (not really "lucky" because we had to pay $30) But according to them, now we have luck for the rest of the year. Yeah! No more hospitals and torn ligaments and earthquakes and lost business! God, I love the benefits of religion.