Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kabuki and Japan Friends

But first, I would like to talk about Ayame.

Subject: Suzuki Ayame
Position: Best Japanese friend
Most endearing quality: Her laziness/I never know what she’s about to say
Fun fact: She may someday be my business partner

Example conversation:
(After a long string of texts back and forth, around 11 PM)
Me: All right, I’m going to go to bed because I’m a grandma and I want to sleep.
Ayame: True. You need to sleep, Grandma. I have to write papers from now!!!! I’m still very young, I guess.
Me: Yeah, you’ll have to teach me how to be young again, since I frequently mistake you for a CHILD.
Ayame: Shut up, Grandma. You can never be young again. Sorry but it’s too late. Lol

I think the “lol” she tacked on there implies that she’s not actually all that sorry. Regardless, I always start laughing when I think about this conversation. Despite being born and raised in Japan, Ayame's English is quite good (though she refuses to believe me. Which is fair, because I refuse to believe her when she says my Japanese sounds fluent). I've been able to talk to her about both serious and funny things, and she to me as well.

It's weird trying to explain our relationship when I have so many memories to choose from. She's an amazing lunch partner and travel partner. And oh, how she makes me laugh. Like the time she walked towards a door, saw that it wasn't automatic, then walked well out of her way just to find an automatic door so she wouldn't have to take her hands out of her pockets. Whenever we have sleepovers I always find myself incredibly sad when I wake up the next day and have to go home.

Damn, I'm going to miss her.

So instead of continuing to talk about Ayame and the priceless fun we have had together over the last six months, I will talk about the fact I went to Japanese theater - Kabuki.  Kabuki is more or less Japanese theater, where although there are female characters in the plays, all of the characters are played by men. This is a tradition that started long ago when female actresses were banned in the mid-1600s for being too erotic. 

Entering the theater lobby and heading up the escalator.

Going into the theater itself! There were a ton of shops and even restaurants inside this building. I bought two sticks of dango - more or less rice cake on a stick. So, so good.

From left to right; Lisa, Julie, me, and Valerie. These are the French girls I spend a solid amount of my time with. If I could pick a memorable memory from each of them, it would go like this.

Lisa: located directly above my head. Photo booths in Japan make anyone not Japanese look terrifying, and for that, I apologize.

Lisa: There are only five continents.
Me: There are seven.
Lisa: Seven!? Are you crazy? There's five. 
(Thus ensued a great debate as to how many continents existed on planet Earth. In the end, it turned out that France learns there are five continents, not seven. They exclude Antarctica and they combine North and South America into one, "The Americas")

Left to right: Valerie, me, and Julie

Julie: Did you know that the length of your hand is exactly the length of your face?
Me: (Having heard this joke a zillion times) Oh, yeah? Why don't you show me?
Julie: (After giving me a puzzled expression, puts her hand up to her face. I then, like a sensible person, smack her hand so that it hits her face and she recoils back before flipping me the bird. That's a universal sign.)
Me: didn't actually...know that was...a prank, huh?
(Lisa and Valerie at this point were doubled over with laughter. Turns out Julie was being serious, she had never heard of that prank before, and she was legitimately offended that I made her smack herself.)

Julie: I haven't been able to sleep lately. But I don't really like sleeping that much.
Me: (Staring at her as though she's just killed somebody)
Julie: What? It's such a waste of time. I could do so much more if I didn't have to sleep.
Me: (Looks to Valerie, unable to speak myself from shock)
Valerie: It is the next best thing only to eating.
(This actually describes Valerie really well and I feel I have nothing to add for her profile)

So we all went to Kabuki, a Japanese play with only male actors. I wish I could have taken pictures of the play, with the bright colors imitating cherry blossoms on trees and the bright white makeup of the actors. 

Kabuki is hard for even Japanese to understand, as the plays are frequently written in old Japanese (think ye Olde English, like Shakespearean-speak but for Japan), but the energy of the actors and the movement and, most importantly, the English guide that explained each scene, helped me understand what was going on. 

We saw "The Shiranami Five," a play about five bandits. I remember how much I was impressed with the action scenes, when the bandits would stage-fight the police and how the fighting looked more like dancing. The way someone not far offstage clacked together two pieces of wood to simulate a sword hitting a person, or how the actors that were "killed" flipped onto their backs and toppled into a "river," simulated by waving blue paper. It sounds like it's a low-budget play, and I guess in some ways it is, but it was so easy to watch. The scenery and costumes were incredibly pleasant to look at.

I may not have understood every word, but the experience is something I'll carry with me forever. And frankly, I'm sure I'll say the same thing about being in Japan 13 weeks from now, when I return to the States.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say Haley . . . this post just cracked me up when you started to talk about Lisa, Julie and Valerie. ^_^

    Wonderful writing, by the way!