Taiko and a dancing yellow cat

Last weekend, Khoa and I ventured to mainland Japan for the Japan Myth Expo in Izumo City.  This event was held to celebrate the 1300 year anniversary of the writing of the Kojiki, Japan’s oldest chronicle.  The Kojiki is said to contain one of the most important records of the early history of Japan.  There are also many ancient myths written in the Kojiki, a third of which are set in Shimane prefecture.  If you’re interested in reading some of the myths (in English), take a look

I was surprised to learn that Shimane, the sleepy little rural prefecture that Khoa and I have come to call home, was mentioned so often in the Kojiki.  The Oki Islands are even talk about in one of the myths chronicaling the (mis)adventures of a rabbit from our islands. 

As part of the Japan Myth Expo, each city, town, and village has a designated day to show off their area’s traditional dances, songs, and customs.  Chibu’s junior high boys and random “sticking out like a sore thumb” foreigner (me) performed Minna Ichi Taiko, Chibu’s traditional song.  The song is composed of taiko drumming, dancing using fans, and singing. On the day of the performance it was 37 degrees Celsius (98 Fahrenheit) under the canopy that was over the stage…I don’t think I’ve ever sweated that much!  Khoa was there to watch both of the 30 minute performances, all the while taking pictures for the school.  I shouldn’t post pictures of the kids, but it’s not against the rules to subject the internet to my sweaty face:

 

 

There was also Oki Minyo (folk songs) and a stage performance by Shimane’s mascot.  Most (maybe all) prefectures in Japan have an official mascot.  Shimane’s is a yellow cat with the roof of Izumo Shrine stuck on his head.  His name is Shimanekko (Shimane + Nekko [cat]).  He’s cute…but I had about all the kawaii (cuteness) I could take after Shimanekko and his two perky cat friends performed the Shimanekko dance with accompanied song.  This kawaii overload was exacerbated by the screeching women dancing along with Shimanekko, screaming “kawaiiii!”  I like cute things, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something about the sickeningly sweet cuteness of that song and dance combo, complete with “cat pose,” that rubs me the wrong way.

 Shimanekko, Shimane's mascot

…other than the cute yellow cat, Khoa and I had a great day 😛

There’s no escape once you’ve entered the depths of Shimanekko
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