On August 8th, the culmination to the Iwaki Tanabata Festival, the Iwaki Odori, was held in Taira. Last year, I watched the groups dance in the loop wishing I could join in – this year I got my wish.
The Iwaki International Association dances every year and so this time I joined in. About a week ahead we had a practice evening where we learnt the moves which I was very glad of (they make look simple but they’re a real challenge for the uncoordinated!).
On the day, we met up and changed into our costumes – I (akabeko) Fukushima T-shirts with Hawaiian shirts over the top (you may be wondering about the Hawaiian shirt – it’s actually the uniform for city officials in Iwaki as Iwaki has strong ties to Hawaii). After another quick practice on the sidewalk, we headed to the dance. We would dance for forty minutes, with a short break in the middle. It was great fun! but of course really tiring in the summer heat. People cheered encouragement from the sidelines, and many of my students and ex-students yelled out my name when they saw me! A brilliant experience – if you ever get the chance to join in in any events like this, make sure to raise your hand!