Sunday, October 28, 2007

My First Bon Odori

I went to my first Bon Odori held in Johor Bahru yesterday. I was actually very reluctant to go because one, I don't speak Jap and two, I am not a huge fan of the Japs. Their punctuality and constant demand for utmost respect intimidates me (shows what type of person I really am).

But since there really isn't anything for me to do during that Saturday afternoon, I thought I might as well take the time to learn a thing or two about the Japanese culture. The event started off with speeches given by a Japanese representative and a Malaysian politician. It was very clear what each of the country wanted through their scripts:

Japanese representative: Bilateral relationship. Strengthen brotherhood between Japanese and Malaysians. Work together. Foster ties.

Malaysian politician: Attract investors. Money. Invest. Money. More money.

So much for subtleness. After that, came the "Mochitsuki" Rice Cake Making demonstration where a crowd of almost 100 people gathered around to watch 5 Japanese dudes,

beat glutinous rice with wooden hammers.

The Bon Odori wasn't so much a showcase of the Japanese culture but more of a mini Japanese food bazaar. I myself bought RM15 worth of snacks that afternoon. Sigh, there goes my 'two meal a day only' rule. I am aware that I'm starting to sound like a chick now.

Speaking of chicks, the main attractions that afternoon were really the Japanese girls in Yukatas. At least they looked Japanese. Mak took pictures with some of the girls and sadly enough out of the 4 pictures he snapped with them, only one was an authentic Jap. The others were.. buatan Malaysia:

(Mak approaches a Yukata girl)

Mak: Hello. Picture? Shashin? *points to the his camera*

Yukata girl: Ah. Ok. Ok.

(Snaps a picture)

Mak: Thank you! Er.. arigato!

Yukata girl: *smile*

Mak: Hey Ben, don't you want a picture with the Japanese girl?

Ben: Where?

Mak: That one. *points to the Yukata girl*

Yukata girl (sees a friend): Wa so long never see you already la. Later after this we must go yam cha!

Mak: ...

Ben: Where?

Mak: Shut up.

Then came the main event, the Bon Odori dance where all the girls in yukatas will be vying for the title 'Miss Yukata 2007' by dancing off around the centre stage. I liked how they used the term 'dance off' like the yukata girls will be squaring off against each other to the beat of Show Me The Money by Petey Pablo. My imagination got the best of me and before I knew it, I convinced myself that I was going to see the girls popping and locking and doing handstands in their yukatas on stage.

Reality came crashing like a ton of bricks. The 'dance off' is really just 60 yukata girls dancing to some traditional Japanese folk music while slowly circling the stage.

Bon Odori, a dance to appease the souls of ancestors.

The girls were then shortlisted into 10 and they are to undergo another round of slow dance. I just thought it was a neat idea to round up all the pretty yukata girls and make them parade in circles so us guys can gawk at each one of them.

Me joining in the fun.

We never stuck around for round two because it was held late at night. All in all, it was a pretty ok event. It certainly beats rotting at home.


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