After Takamatsu, we went to Tokushima. Tokushima is known for its traditional puppet plays and its yearly dance festival. We missed seeing a play, but boy did we ever have a good time at the dance festival! During the day we went to a town history museum and gardens. The town used to have a castle, but it burned down, so all that’s really left is a museum about the castle. The museum had a scale model of the castle, castle blueprints, artifacts from the castle, a replica ancient market street and a special exhibit on some famous lady who we think was a singer or musician. All the exhibits were in Japanese, so we kind of had to guess. The attached gardens were small but very pretty. The raking pattern suggests waves. Weird moon rock! The gardens had a resident tom cat who looked just like my cat but bigger and missing a larger chunk of ear. For dinner we went to a place recommended by the girl who worked at the tourist info center. It turns out that she used to live in Daly City, so we had a long chat with her. The restaurant specializes in Okonomiyaki, which she said she could never find in the US, so we opted to try it. Okonomiyaki is basically an egg pancake with whatever filling you’d like, and boy are they delicious! You usually cook the pancake yourself, but we obviously had no idea what we were doing, so the waiters and our neighboring diners helped us with ours. After dinner we went to the festival. The festival basically takes over the town for three nights in August and we were there on the last night, which is the craziest. The festival started several hundred years ago, when according to legend courtiers got really drunk and started dancing ecstatically. And that’s pretty much what happens to today. Different dance troupes with their own drummers, flute players and lute players dance down the streets of the town. After dancing down the street, performers would do more intricate performances and spectators joined in on the dancing. It was the first time we got to see Japanese people really let loose and it was so fun! The energy is incredible!
The only way to describe the festival is “orgiastic.” Old and young were dancing and moshing ecstatically, and of course we joined in too! The dance that they do for the festival looks remarkably similar to the way Jeff normally dances — sort of awkward flailing. I’m beginning to suspect that he’s actually half Japanese, not half Chinese, because he sure meshes with Japan better than China.