Friday, September 14, 2007
I cut my hair. I’m buzzed now. It’s too hot for hair. Although, the nights are becoming cool, so cool that I need a blanket. The cicada’s are almost all gone, leaving only the wailing cats and motorcycles to sing with the night. Mornings are quiet, cool, and pleasant. The tadpoles that used to fill the rice fields are now tiny frogs hopping all over the sides of the streets. They make me happy. I love frogs.
Last weekend I traveled to the other side of my island to the annual “Hemp Fest.” Pictures up soon.
This event was not about marijuana (although, whether or not that was there in abundance, I cannot say.) It was about hemp, the plant used in Japan for centuries for food and clothing. It was a hemp revival, and organic farmers and flee marketers set up a tiny town in the forest right next to the Pacific Ocean, and we all celebrated life, love, music, and hemp, together. There were lectures, slideshows, workshops, and people sat around and listened about the history, misconceptions, and many uses of hemp.
It was also a free music festival. Groups from all over Japan came and played. There was great reggae and ska, folk, crazy experimental music, hippy jams, and even a group that sounded like wean and mum mixed together. They put everyone in a trance.
Two older men that I felt were highly respected in this community got up during the trance band and danced for us. It was like a mix between butoh, tai chi, Native American, and clumsy drag queen dance. Everyone loved it, including their wives.
Many people there were wearing the traditional Japanese underwear called fundoshi. In fact, I’d say that it was a major theme of the event. Fundoshi sellers were on every corner, and I was often asked if I was wearing one. “Why not? Hurry up and get with it!” would be the response. They do look comfortable. No underwear is of course the best, but sometimes underwear is necessary for cleanliness, and in such a case, the fundoshi is recommended. I was amused as how many people were only wearing the fundoshi (again, nude is best, but if you must…fundoshi). It was a revival of the old ways. Now in Japan, you can usually only see fundoshi worn at festivals, such as Naked Man in Okayama.
IN the evening, many of the men who were totally naked except for the tiny fundoshi, tied themselves together at the waist and danced around a tiny fire in front of the stage. This was quite a site for a foreigner like myself. In America, they would have been arrested for public nudity or homosexuality or something.
As the night began to undress herself and straddle the event, the music became wild. Fire dancers performed on the beach to the beautiful wailing of a young woman sitting next to me, singing like a Sufi. I added harmony at times.
In the morning I went swimming naked in the ocean, bobbing and floating on a sea of light, the sunrise painting my body creamy pink and blue. The crystal clear blood of nature held me in her transparent, sparkling hands, and I understood the secrets of the universe, bobbing in the shimmering turquoise emptiness, the morning reflected on my belly.
What I really want to mention to you all is how safe I felt at the festival. During the performances, people would leave their tents and tiny shops—money lying out, bags, purses, jewelry, merchandise—they would leave it all alone and go dance and sing and listen to the music. Think about that. Think about that kind of atmosphere.
I would often come back to Megumi and my camp to find all her money and merchandise unattended (she sells clothes from Nepal).
I heard that at Summer Sonic, the music festival held in Osaka and Tokyo every year, people saved their seats by leaving their wallets or purses on them. !
In Japan, nobody is going to take it. It’s just the mood of this place. It’s totally civilized in this way. As backward and frustratingly old fashioned as Japan might be, it champions in respecting other people’s possessions. With no robbers around, you can leave your bag and camera and wallet in your tent or on a table, go to the bathroom, go swim in the ocean, go listen to the music, without worry. And that is living! Also, of course, I have never felt threatened here. Japanese people are overall very feminine and small. These peace people have villages and cities most comfortable for living. One thing Japan has that America does not is events like this, where nothing is stolen, and food and drinks are free.
For example, I walked around with a few dollars in the morning looking for breakfast. I was handed a bamboo cup full of delicious coffee and then beautiful hippy women handed me hemp toast and cut up fruit, refusing to take my money. Ah, the wonderful world of generosity and trust.
Posted by David at 2:57 AM
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