Last Saturday was Matsue City’s Dan-Dan Summer Dance. Starting at 3pm in blistering 35 degree Celcius (95 Fahrenheit), 80% humidity weather, teams of dancers took to the street near Matsue Castle to show off their moves. We were hot just watching, I can’t imagine having to dance under those kinds of conditions.
There was a wide range of dancers, from women in traditional kimono to elementary school girls in neon tutus to men wielding giant flags.
There were some very memorable performances. For example…
This was a hip hop dance group from Matsue. One of their goals was to learn how to dance “sekushi.” After hearing the announcement of their group’s bio, I wasn’t quite sure what kind of dancing we were about to see. I was preparing myself to be shocked at least…and shocked I was. The first group of girls, ranging from 1st to 6th grade elementary school age, danced to a rap song that included many uncensored “mother f-ers” and mentioned the singer’s own giant…well, you get the picture, this wasn’t a song for innocent 7 year olds to dance to. I don’t quite know how all of the little old grandmas and grandpas felt about this. Next was an N’SYNC song (much more appropriate) followed by T-PAIN’s “Take your shirt off.” I couldn’t stop laughing throughout the entire performance because of the song choices.
And then there was flag guy…
This guy was proud of his flag waving skills and wanted everyone to know it (he even posed for this picture). Synchronized with the music, he waved is huge flag inches away from the heads of the dancers in front of him. He even turned toward the crowd and occasionally flung the red cloth in the direction of innocent bystanders and laughed with confidence as they ducked. He was awesome.
There were many other great dances as well. Here are some more of Khoa’s photographs:
It was Khoa and my first time at the Dan-Dan Dance event and we were glad to have had the opportunity to see it. The three hours of dancing was a great opportunity for Khoa to practice taking photos 🙂
Yesterday we headed out to the mainland for a little break from island life. We both agree that the hardest part of living in Chibu is not being able to go to a restaurant whenever we want. We had a very pleasant, albiet short one-day trip, but we managed to fit in a lot of restaurant visits.
Our favorite place was definitely kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi).
There were the usual suspects; nigiri sushi of tuna and salmon, inarizushi, and gunkan maki filled with fish roe to name a few.
But there were some unusual sushi options as well:
In case you wanted something other than what was coming on down the conveyor belt, you could use the small touch screen next to your table to order:
Once your order was prepared, the screen started flashing and began to play a nice little jingle, alerting you that your sushi would be coming by your table.
The order also came on a special elevated platform with ご注文品 (ordered good) written on the side.
It was our first visit to this particular kaitenzushi restaurant and our first experience with the screen ordering system. We landed up missing our first order item because we were wondering whether or not we could take the plate. As we debated, our sushi continued to chug down the line and out of reach. Oh well 😛 We learned from that miss step and continued to order, pick up, and enjoy sushi to our hearts’ content.
On Monday morning, we woke up at around 6am and turned on the TV. Every channel was covering the solar eclipse. They showed images of hundreds of people gathered all over Japan, cameras and eclipse viewers at the ready. Newscasters interviewed a tourist who had made a special trip to Japan from Australia in hopes of catching a glimpse of this natural phenomenon.
Included in the newscasts were tips on how to view the eclipse. Here’s a funny illustration I found:
They were also showcasing the different kinds of glasses that were suitable for viewing the sun. Here are a few that were being sold in Japan:
Leading up to the solar eclipse, many people asked me, “How do you say ‘eclipse’ in English?” When I told them it’s called an “eclipse,” instead of repeating the word to confirm how to say it, they gave up all together and said, “oh, I see.” I guess “eclipse” is a hard word to say. It’s much harder to say than “日食” (nisshoku), the Japanese word. The two kanji literally mean “sun” and “eat,” which makes sense; the sun really does look like it’s getting eaten.
As the sun was just starting to become hidden behind the moon, Khoa and I headed out of the house. As we walked, the sun became more and more hidden, causing the formally bright and sunny morning to resemble an evening filled with the warm rays of a setting sun. Continuing our walk, we eventually joined the many students and parents who had gathered at the school to watch the eclipse. It was fun to occasionally take a break from playing with the kids to look through the eclipse lenses at the shrinking sun. Since we are in Chibu, we are farther north than the optimal viewing position where you can see the sun as a complete ring.
Our tiny island (where the red and orange arrow is)
As a result, at the peak of the eclipse, the sun looked like a crescent moon. Nevertheless, this was definitely an event that the two of us will remember for a long time.