KIDS: CWSE Report 12

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Children's World Summit for the Environment


Koby's Report #12  - The Dance at Gujo

After meeting our home-stay family and going to the hot springs we piled back in their van and drove to their house.  It was like nothing I had ever seen before.    The first room we entered had amazing stone statues and figures. Some were of Buddha, and some were of bulls and whales.  I could just go on and on. Through a doorway off of that room was a very small room the size of a closet.  Inside was a shrine covered in gold, standing almost as tall as the ceiling. A small Buddha figure sat on the inside. It looked exactly like a small Japanese temple. 

It was enclosed by glass doors with prints covering most of the view to the shrine. In the center of the room sat a long table only about a foot off of the ground.  It had a cloth draped over it and it looked as though it might have food already set and waiting for dinner.

We were welcomed and brought to a corner where we put our bags.  A small elderly lady {Japenese lady at Gujo.} came out to greet us.  She never stopped smiling and bowing.  It was like there couldn't be anything else that would have made her happier than to see us walk through the door to her home.  She brought us to the long table and motioned for us to sit down on pillows on the floor.  Once we had taken our seats she removed the cloth over the table to reveal a true feast!  There was enough food there for twenty people and it was all for us! 

As we began chowing down, the cameramen entered the room and began filming us as we ate.  It was a little strange to have a crowd of people holding up lights and cameras watching us struggle to bring the food from plates to our mouths with chopsticks, but after a few minutes we began to loosen up and talk. The crew asked us questions about the conference.  It wasn't my first time in front of a Japanese camera crew (I was also filmed on {The S.O.A.P. girls in Gujo.} my way out of the opening ceremony), but I was still a little bit nervous knowing that other people would watch this and see how different I was from them. At the same time I was so excited because this was something that I probably will never experience again.  It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  When the camera crew was finished with interviews we were really able to enjoy the meal. The food was so much better than any of the food we had gotten in restaurants. You can't match a home cooked meal. This stuff was the real thing. Tempura, sushi, soba, calamari, tofu. There was such a huge variety! The soba noodles were my favorite. They were cold and you are supposed to dip them in a warm sauce before eating them.  I was glad it is polite to slurp noodles because with these it was hard not to.

Once I was completely stuffed and couldn't possibly fit any more food in my stomach I got up from the table with one of our hosts. I asked where the shower was.  She showed me the shower room and the first thing she ask me was, Do you know how to take a bath?  Well of course I know how to take a bath. I thought it was a stupid question, but it turns out baths and showers in Japan work much differently than in America. In the shower you are not supposed to stand in the shower. There is a seat that you have to stay in.  You fill the tub with water and then use the showerhead to wash yourself.  You do not let the water drain out of the tub while you bathe. I took my shower and left.  I did make one mistake....I drained the tub. It didn't drain all the way. I tried three times and it would stop with about four inches of water left. I wasn't told directly that that was wrong, but I could tell by the way they were talking and showing the amount of water left with their hands. Everyone else took showers and then it was time for getting ready to go to the famous Gujo dance.

I was brought into a room with kimonos laid out across the floor.  Two women were going to {Gojo children in traditional Japanese costumes.} help me get ready.  They told me to remove my clothes.  I just laughed. Me take of my clothes in front of two women?....I don't think so.... But they kept telling me. I took of my shirt and let them put on the kimono and when it was around me like a full robe, I took off my shorts. Better for me than the girls I guess. At least it is okay for a boy to take off his shirt. It was a little weird being dressed by two women I didn't even know very well.  I had a grayish blue man's kimono with a black sash type belt.

{Dancing at Gujo.} Once we were all dressed, we drove to the same spot where we had fed the carps earlier that day. There we joined a circle of people dancing. They were all in kimonos also. We watched them dance and tried to learn the dances from them so we could go to the realGujo dance. It was very hot so we all got fans to use between dances. The dances were made up of a bunch of different hand movements and stomping. We had to move our arms back and forth and side to side and sometimes even do a saluting motion.  After three dances it was time to go to the real thing.

We piled back in the cars and drove to a street filled with hundreds of people.  In the middle {Koby dressed for the dance at Gujo.} of the street stood a structure that looked like a larger version of the shrine in our host family's house.  On the top were musicians playing traditional Japanese songs.  Everyone was dancing together and moving in a loop up and down the street.  It was very dark so there were lanterns hung from the roofs of the buildings around us. It was amazing to see all these people gathered together to dance like this. There were even some kids that looked like they could only be 3-5 years old. They all knew the dances much better than us. At first I was a little embarrassed, because it was obvious I had just learned to dance, but after awhile it got better. People started smiling at me and nodding at me because they knew that I was trying and that was good enough. The Gujo dance was one of the most memorable things that happened to me in Japan.

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Content Last Modified on 1/31/2007 3:42:31 PM