The Miyajima harvest festival is building when I wander out of Backpackers hostel and into the town centre. There is a market hustle and bustle. A guy making pottery, people selling their earthen wares, a band of musicians wandering and playing music, guys dressed in dragon suits weaving in and out of the musicians and the crowds, snapping their giant wooden teeth loudly; a few shy Japanese children holding tight in their mothers arms, cringing and crying, the parents and their friends politely laughing at their. I grab a coffee and a custardy bread from the local bakery, who have set up a stall outside in the shop specially.
“Ariga – o” – me
“Ar’g’o’sieeem’s” – her
A rapid exchange of bows.
A pretty young girl (Japanese girls, as a general rule, are “pretty” as opposed to “hot” because they’re always so godamn quiet and polite.) reads announcements, dressed in her quaint festival dress, from the side of a constructed stage in the centre of the towns main square. A Japanese rockabilly band, all quifs and leather, are setting up to play. They look fantastic in their strangeness as they set up to play.
They do not dissapoint, singing a mixture of English and Japanese, very little of it audably English, they play away, the odd “Hey, baby, yeah baby” breaks through the otherwise impossibly translateable mess of language. But don’t get my wrong here, they are awesome. They are stupid-tastic at a level that could never breakdown my expectations of Japanese Rockabilly.
More interesting than the band themselves are the people that are all about. Old Japanese ladys, sitting out in front, clapping with one hand as they shade their face from the early morning sun with an umbrella with the other. Some kids seem interested (others less so) dancing quietly to themselves, unawares. Fucking all manor of cameras, camcorders, mobile phones snapping and humming and recording away. The odd foreign tourist standing, enjoying, in that out-of-touch, not-quite-getting-it way that we all seem to exist here in.
And then I see her, hanging around next to a bench which seems to have been unofficially dedicated to the hardcore rockabilly fans, all dressed in classic rockabilly clothing but holding the look with that spark of individuality among the flock that the Japanese do so effortlessly. She stands upright, her skirt, tight and long, clings loosely to the contours. A blouse, white, with red triangles, hangs from her body as if skupted ontop of it. Big fat, glasses and a French berrai perched loosely atop of her head; I am in love.
And what I really love is not just her style and look because you can see from her that it’s not just about standing around, posing and persing, because she genuinely loves the music too and dances along to all of the songs with gusto. Waving her hands with as she dances (think Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction) with three festival-dressed girls in clear komono’s, she cares not about how people percieve her. She does her own thing.