Akiko, her husband Makoto and I walked the arduous five minutes to Otsuka Station to see the Yosakoi Festival today. Akiko told me ‘Yosakoi’ is from an old dialect and pretty much means ‘come out tonight!’ (yosa = yoru = night, koi = kuru = come). Yosakoi is a kind of dance, though based on the performances there’s plenty of variation in the steps and the accompanying costumes. There were a bazillion (and by a bazillion I mean maybe ten or fifteen) yosakoi dance troupes that came out to perform, and we stayed for about five. Waseda University had at least two, though the second Waseda group, in the green with the kitsune masks, had crazy energy and was definitely the most fun to watch.
I was standing next to an old woman (henceforth “obaachan,” aka “grandma”) who started chatting to no one in particular. She commented on how energetic the performers were, and I agreed, and, I suspect without looking at me, she replied back, and by the time she glanced over and realized I was white it was either not a problem re: her chitchatting in the first place or it was too late to politely ignore me. She was adorable though, and seemed to enjoy talking to me anyway, so I’ll go with ‘wasn’t a problem.’ It was loud and I could only hear/understand about half of what she was saying, and later when Akiko asked me what we’d been talking about I told her this.
“So what’d you say?” Akiko asked.
“I mostly kept saying ‘Is that so?’ and ‘That’s right.'” (そうですか？そうですね。)
“Oo, you’re good.”
“Small talk is universal.”
Around lunchtime we hopped on the Arakawa-sen (Arakawa Line), a rare street car line in the middle of Tokyo, and took it down to Waseda. There Akiko had found a restaurant called ‘Okinawashokudo’ (Okinawa Restaurant, essentially) that served vegan-friendly Okinawa-inspired food. Last time I went out with Akiko and Makoto (right after they’d met, and they were ten kinds of adorable then, too) they shared with me their strategy of ordering a bunch of stuff, sharing it, and ending up super full. I approve and was more than willing to participate.
While riding back Akiko pointed out a pun on an ad for gravestones:
It’s hard to read (but you can’t read Japanese anyway, right?) but it says: 墓地墓地（ぼちぼち/bochibochi）考えてみませんか？”Bochibochi” means “soon/in a little while.” “Bochi” means “grave.”
So the sign says something like, “Why don’t you think about (it) soon?”