"Nara JETNet, comprised of participants in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET Programme), is an association whose goal is the grassroots internationalization of local communities in Nara Prefecture. Its organizing committee, which consists of the Prefecture’s five Coordinators for International Relations (CIR) and the Prefectural Board of Education’s Assistant Language Teacher (ALT), plans and carries out international exchange events that bring together foreign and Japanese members of the greater Nara community."
Last Saturday, a JETNet event took place: A Halloween Parade!
32 Nara JETs, 60 Japanese people (ranging from infants to the elderly) gathered at Miwa station, all dressed in costume. Let me paint a picture for you: 30 FOREIGNERS BOARDED A TRAIN COMPLETELY CLAD IN HALLOWEEN COSTUMES. To say people stared would be an understatement. They LEERED.
When we arrived in Miwa, we gathered in groups. We were all placed on "teams" primarily so we could make sure no one got lost on the trail. I was on team witch. There was another team, "Frankenstein," with a mislabeled sign. It read, "Frankenteim." Yes, the MC Hammer jokes were a-plenty:
Me: Hold on guys! Stop. Franken-time!!
Just try to imagine me doing the MC Hammer shuffle in my toga. Yes, I put on a simple bedsheet as a costume. I was not going to walk 13KM (roughly 8 miles) in makeup or some complicated BS. What I didn't realize until someone had pointed it out to me, is that my choice of a light green bed sheet turned my costume from Toga...to Statue of Liberty. I only bought the stupid color because the store was out of white sheets. Oh well, it WAS funny.
The Halloween parade happened on the oldest road in Japan, Yamanobe no Michi. This road is centuries old, but many areas cut through residential neighborhoods. The trail is incredibly varied. One minute we were walking through someone's driveway (imagine his surprise), and the next minute we were walking through a shrine in the mountains. It was very bizarre.
As we marched on, many people (not JETs) started to drop out. There was a train station about halfway that 1/4 of our guests seized. It really was a tough hike for children.
The trail ends at the Chicken shrine in Tenri. I don't remember the name, but I've been there before when I visited the "center of the universe."
I still have no idea why I was the only one sunburned. Before you yell, "because you have fair skin!" just know that there is an Irish Jet whose skin is a lot more fragile then mine.
Here's the mildly amusing picture to end this post. It's soooooo...artistic:
Before I forget, my blog just got listed on the Unofficial JET Programme Guide - http://jet-programme.com/