Ah, I should have said the Soran Bushi dance started with the fishermen in the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido. This is a place most of us long to visit right now, as the temperature is near 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 60% humidity makes it feel closer to a hundred. The weather forecast predicts constant thunder and lightning for the next week, but I've learned that such storms come on fast (with my desk facing the window I can see the leading edge of rain move across the playground), are intense enough to make me consider building an ark from origami, and vanish in an instant to leave bright blue and sunshine that almost dries up the new lake by the time we go home (leaving enough puddles that some of the boys go "swimming" and turn their white uniforms brown.) If I had a yen for every time someone sighs or mutters, "atsui!" (hot - 暑い）I would be a rich, rich girl. I bought a folding fan with a pretty flower and dragonfly on it - apparently I fan myself "elegantly" "like a princess" - while most use the nonfolding fans called "uchiwas" that seem to come free with advertising printed on them. So, Hokkaido's temperate climate is calling to us. The song is a chant about life on the open sea with the chorus calling a rowing rallying cry. Lyrics are the usual sea-chanty-ness about the gulls and I'll never leave the ocean, I catch the biggest fish and there's a girl I can't get to love me. I'm not sure what it has in common with school life, but it's a fun tradition.
Today the entire school went to the screening of a new movie that was filmed near here, and had a few of our students as minor characters. You wouldn't have thought they were minor at all considering the entire audience burst into laughter whenever they came on screen. It was a bit sentimental - I have yet to see an entire class actually burst into tears together and simultaneously beg a teacher not to leave, though it happens ALL THE TIME in Japanese school dramas. But the scenery was gorgeous, and the music was fun, and the actors were really good, so it was enjoyable. And we got a ride in a sensei's air-conditioned car, which was a plus.
The other day we went to a Mosburger, which is the Japanese version of American fast food in that it has none of that countries less appealing qualities. My chicken teriyaki burger was reasonably priced, came quickly, and was delicious, with a good deal of crispy fresh lettuce. I see why they're amazed by the size of US burgers, but to me those are too big anyways, so this size was perfect. The only thing lacking was that there was no ketchup in sight for the fries, but other than that if I ever get nostalgic for American cooking I'll definitely go there (though I'll never get homesick for the limpwarmlettuce.)
Before the rainy season washes itself away, I should share two of the ultimate rainy songs. First, Kanjani8 is a group of which all members are from the Kansai area, east Japan. People there have a reputation for being loud and jokey and fond of eating, and this group lives up to that with a relish. Most of their songs are rather ridiculous, but sometimes they're allowed to have a cool moment, and those are invariably my favorite. "Osaka Rainy Blues" is as cool as a cucumber, and manages to be very impressive for apparently being rather low-budget:
Next, from my beloved Domoto Tsuyoshi, to whose concert I was lucky (or desperate) enough to get tickets to next month. "Sora ga Naku Kara" means "Because the sky cries" and the sort of music video that's not everyone's cup of green tea. Tsuyoshi responded to being a member of an insanely popular, bubble-gum duo by creating the oddest solo-project possible. He calls this alternate persona Endlicheri☆Endlicheri after an exotic fish he keeps and identifies with, and lately it's warped into 244 Endli-X (as 244 can be pronounced Tsu-yo-shi in Japanese). And while his costumes in this character make me wince a little I also really admire his uniqueness and artistic vision. It's a haunting song, alien and somehow familiar, with the sort of lyrics only Tsuyoshi (also a published author) can write - "I want to believe in that light that can't be seen... Because the sky cries, water will make the road." He's weird in it, but he makes you think - he's very good at that. Forgive me, I'm a little infatuated: