I just had an amazing weekend. All my weekends have been busy and fun, but this one was special.
MY IKEA stuff was delivered! I spent about 2 hours building the couch/bed, and haven't mustered the nerve to build the small dresser, tv stand, and chair. I will, but courage take time people. In the afternoon, one of the current JETs who is moving in with her boyfriend dumped a ton of crap at my apartment. It is mostly kitchen-related crap (which I need), but she also dropped off a small, gaming chair, and some nice plastic drawers for more random crap.
Saturday night, I traveled to Osaka to offer a foreign perspective to a youth theater production. This particular theater was doing a play in English and they offered JETs free tickets. About 5 of us went to witness the adorable horror. The play they chose to show was "High School Musical Jr." The play was simply hilarious. There were two kids that I just couldn't understand regardless of their English ability. The stars were cute, but couldn't sing and dance. Afterward, we got a couple beers at a "Hawaiian" bar nearby. I then proceded to head back to Nara City for another JET's birthday party. Enough said.
Sunday morning was the Basara Matsuri, which I had agreed to dance in. We met at the Kintetsu station to receive our aprons and naruko (clackers).
Then we went to the Kencho courtyard to practice again for the event. It was fucking hot. Everyone was sweating away their souls. We all drank our weight in water. When the event was finally ready to begin, we headed for the starting line at the JR Station. We (about 15 of us) got in formation behind our awesome music truck and began to dance our little hearts out. Each dance is about 4 minutes of exhausting cardio. We did 4 in a row before taking a small break. At the end of the fourth dance, I saw a gray haze over my eyes. No matter how much water or Pocari Sweat (gatorade-like drink), we just could not hydrate properly. Luckily, we got to stop for 5 minutes before the next set of dances. Yes, folks, there was more dancing. The crowds along the street loved out group and took lots and lots of pictures. One of the Nara JETs took pictures and video of the event, so when I get a hold of him, I'll ask him for them. After the break, we danced an additional 4 times for a total of 8 in the sweltering Nara heat. By the end, we were exhausted, hot, and dehydrated. You welcome, Japan.
After the Basara Matsuri, 5 of us had to shower and change for a cultural dinner we signed up for that night. It turns out, the dinner was a really big deal. The governor of Nara and the mayor of Nara City were both present. The event coordinators gave the JETs a table in the front, right next to the governor (a very nice man, BTW) and the Sento-kun (Nara's gross mascot) Fan Club. On the stage, important people from all around the prefecture reenacted important cultural events including using small hammers to break open a couple barrels of sake. The food was simply amazing. I had steak for the first time since coming to Japan. I ate until my stomach rebelled, then ate some more.
All of this pales in comparison to the highlight of the culture dinner, the song and dance portion. During a really catchy song about Nara (complete with Sentokun on the stage), some important g-man asked the JETs to join them on stage and dance. Do you remember that scene of "My Fellow Americans" when the president dances with a panda? It was kind of like that. Shortly after we went on stage to clap and join in, the governor joined us, then other g-men, then the Sentokun fan club. I even managed to pick up some of the lyrics and dance moves so I didn't have to look totally absurd. Again, another JET is the one who took pictures, so I will try to score some from her. At the end of the night, I managed to jack a bunch of commemorative sake cups from the table and bring them home with me. All in all, a good night.