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27 October 2015 @ 12:21 am
Askua Festival Report  

[Spoiler (click to open)]So I woke up nice and early, 6am. Considering that I usually get up at 5:30am on the weekends for work it was a nice little lay in. Amazingly when I got on my first train at 6:55am I bumped into one of the teachers that I used to work with, we had a brief chat until her station. It’s nice when that kind of thing happens. Anyway, I sort of dozed on the train and made my transfer easy enough. Now then, at the next change I had two options, leave the station and look at the bus, or go along a few more stops and get the bus from there. I chose to get off at the first option and hunt for the bus. I found the bus stop easy enough but deciphering the time table was another matter.  After getting some help from a nice passerby I learned that the next bus was in just over 30 minutes. I didn’t fancy hanging around for 30 minutes and I’d missed the connection to go along to the next possible station. I checked google for walking, but I was over an hour away from my destination on foot. So that was out too (I’d be late). I was left with one other expensive option, take a cab. So I did. Note, cabs in Japan are clean, efficient and damned expensive. I do not recommend them unless they are a last resort.

Anyway, I got to the place, Ishibutai, early and after greeting my teacher, sat and doodled for a while.

Then it was time to be useful because my purpose for being there was being “staff”. We unpacked the drums and tidied up the stage area. Then we did a warm up out on the grass before everyone introduced themselves. There were maybe 40 people from the start, including the 15 plus Yamato members/staff. So after that it was time to do food prep. I peeled carrots and daikon, radish, before washing rice. On returning to the food tent after washing rice, I realised I was kind of loitering. I noticed that Yamato’s Matsumoto-kun was stringing lights around the tents, so I went to help him. He’s a cute little shorty. We ended up working together to deal with the lights, it was good to have something to do. After several mishaps: not realising sockets were broken, having to readjust the laterns, forgetting there was another tent to do. We finished. So we gathered up the leftover stuff and headed over to where the parade floats were.

It was there that I got my first real bit of interaction with Fluffypants. We’d said hello and such, but finally we had a moment. And of course he chose to try and tease me. He said something along the lines of 「怠惰いけません」 which I had no idea what it was, after a few exhances, he must have remembered the English and he blurted out “Lazy, don’t lazy”. So I think he was trying to be playful and whatnot, but it fell flat due to language. Then it was time for lunch, but I got grabbed to help with making some displays for the Yamato performances in January. After that I finally got some lunch thanks to Midori-sensei asking me if I’d eaten yet. Which I hadn’t. So I dished up some rice for Midori-sensei, Matsumoto-kun and myself and we chowed down on some curry and rice. After lunch I kinda had a bunch of free time so I hung around the food tent and with one of the guys got the beer machine working. Of course I bought myself a beer to celebrate.

Then there was quite a lot of down time then, at least until Josh and his mum showed up. I got to “be busy” then by attempting to translate what was going on in real time for Josh’s mum. I introduced them both to Tetsuro-sensei and essentially signed Josh up for the next trial session. We sat on the grass right by the stage so that when the time came, I could essentially make sure Josh got chosen. Tetsuro-sensei was awesome considering that it was Fluffypants explaining things in a rather roundabout way, it had been Ohno-kun the first time and his voice wasn’t doing so well, and kept an eye on us. Then Josh went up to do the trial on stage and again, Tetsuro-sensei made sure that Josh knew what was going on. Then it was time to say goodbye to the two of them and let them continue their ride around the countryside of Japan.

Then there was more downtime, but I got peppered with questions about the foreigners I had been helping. Otherwise I just hung around the food tent watching what was happening on stage. There was basically a range of Japanese music… some of which was a bit weird. But one of the taiko groups that performed with Yamato backing them up was pretty awesome, we got to see Midori-sensei screw up because they were doing a different version of one of the Yamato songs.

After which Midori-sensei did what amounted to a third trial event which wasn’t planed. He called on the Yamato Juniors and any Dojo students to dash to the stage. So off we ran, as we went someone commented that we had no bachi. Thankfully we got bachi from Yamato and then we went on stage. I went over to the far side because there was lots of space. But once we were all on the stage there were still empty drums, so the Yamato members stepped in. And guess who ended up next to me. Fluffypants. Yup. Fluffypants. So I had a mini spaz and made a few mistakes because of it. I did run off the stage after though.

Yamato did one final collab with a really weird group and then we got some fireworks. After those I absolutely had to dash off to the bus stop because that was my only way back to the station in order to get home. I only stayed awake on the way home thanks to messaging my friend and then passed out at around 10pm.


[Spoiler (click to open)]This time, I didn’t have to wake up at stupid o’clock. I was able to get up at about 8am which felt glorious. I met Laura at the station and off we went. This time, we went to the 2nd station and got the bus. I think it also helped that it was later in the day and not early in the morning when we were trying to get the bus. We made good time to Ishibutai, enough time to get something to eat and slowly our classmates arrived. One of the guys had brought a sheet to sit on and we all just had a chat. Then 1pm came along and we got called over to the stage. We thought we were going to have time to practice but no, up on stage we went to perform. Needless to say we all had a bit of a panic. After our song it was time for another trial thing. We then got a break until 2:30 when a long string of taiko performances took place. We, the adult group, were 8th to go on stage. We had to practice though because our school was performing alongside another school, so things were a little different. Before we went on, I managed to have a quick chat with Futaki-kun. I asked him if he’d received the sketch I did of him.

He said he hadn’t and I explained that I had given the sketch to Midori-sensei on Thursday. He said he’d ask about it when it when he could and I showed him the photos on my phone. He seemed pleased, I hope he likes it when he actually gets it. Then we went on stage and did our song reasonably well.

Then, we were technically free from responsibility for the rest of the day. But, there was about 5-6 of us that stuck around to participate in the float parade. After a bit of a break it was time for the parade. First up there was some practice time, because hey, no one had much of a clue what was going on. I didn’t want to be uber fangirly, so I didn’t go to the float that Fluffypants was on, I went to the other one. But hey, I managed another chat with Futaki-kun and he teased me about Fluffypants. He said something along the lines of “You know Kato’s over there right? Shall I go get him?” to which I panicked and actually grabbed him by the wrist to stop him. Needless to say I think it’s kinda cool that the teasing stage has been reached, even if it sends me into a panic. Then there was more practice before we finally went off.

The route wasn’t too long, but as usual there were some hiccups, namely that the two floats couldn’t communicate. So the timing was off quite badly at points. The road was also super narrow in places, but Futaki-kun actually kept an eye out and would jump off the float now and then to help with the manouvering. On our float, there were two plus extra bits to carry, we actually had our lights go out repeatedly. Probably because it was all a bit haphazardly wired up. But we managed.

Back at the main area we got to floats back in their original place and it was time to settle in for the main event, Yamato’s performance. Our little group got some food to share out and as always, Yamato was awesome.

We had a nice opening song with them all, then the “fight” between the girls and boys, a little chappa diddty which Tetsuro-sensei had to do on his own for a while, we had the fun sit up song, in which the person next to Fluffypants on his left, Fukuda-kun, turned his drum the wrong way and they actually collided when they did sit ups. So they very quickly had to rotate it so that it wouldn’t be an issue in the song! Then there was another song that they “finished” with in which Matsumoto-kun managed to knock his big drum backwards into the bamboo sculpture that was around the stage and the girls had to jump up and support the drum until that section of the song was done! Then we did a call for the encore, but unfortunately the audience couldn’t quite get into the same rythmn so Imai-kun ran out to help us. We then got the final encore song, complete with a pin mike that didn’t want to work haha.

And as usual, Yamato all lingered around infront of the stage. Now me and Laura had managed to score a ride home with one of our classmates, so I was worried about the time. So I pleaded for a little time to go talk to Fluffypants. He was a little busy when I got there, so I waited. I got a few minutes with him, had a mini whine that I was cold, he then said he was warm and I got to cling to him arm in an attempt to steal some of his body heat. Then I backed off for a bit and found my classmates right there. Then one of them offered to take a photo for me, after a failed attempt at shooing everyone away I caved and asked him to take the photo. Now Fluffypants always manages to surprise me, he threw his arm around me and pulled me in close. I responded by putting my arm around his waist. Needless to say I got the warm fuzzies. But alas, the photo was a dud thanks to the stage lights. So we took another one facing the other way!

This time I managed to get a few words out, I told him that I was making him a hat for Christmas and showed him where I was with it, he made happy noises which made me happy too. Then it was time to actually head home!