Cults and Fireworks

On friday night I went to my first Rotary club ‘party’. It was held on the top floor of the most flashy hotel in Himeji, where the Himeji Dokkyo ryugakusei (exchange students) were invited to dine and mingle with the members of the Rotary club – although there wesn’t really all that much mingling. Whilst we ate, some old men introduced themselves over the PA. I was planning on doing some ‘mingling’ but by the time I’d had a few beers and settled in the main guy goes ‘all right shows over, lets go have a photo together’.

So that was the Rotary club. I am still none the wiser on how they get money, members and international contacts. I think they may be some sort of stonemason-esque cult. Perhaps they reprogrammed us, like in that movie Cypher, where Morgan Sullivan (Jeremy Northam) applies for a job as a spy at Digicorp, but ends up descending into a dark underworld of brainwashing in which he struggles to maintain his own identity. Good movie.

After our brainwashing seminar we hit Himeji. The morning after, Himeji hit back – which would have been fine if I didn’t have to admit to my host mother I had a huge hangover, didn’t want piles of food or water and that all I wanted was sleep and panadol. Alas, predictably by the time I got up, changed and left to get to the fireworks in Aioi the entirety of Shosha knew.

By the time we got to Aioi I was feeling fine. We got in early to get a good spot then did some exploring down the sidewalk-stall filled streets. The fireworks were amazing – all 70 minutes of them. As saftey wasn’t really a factor they’d considered we were up real close. Apparently, 100,000 people turned up to watch them. The place was heaving. A kid who was sitting behind us decided to rate every firework (there were 5000 rockets so it got a bit tedious). At first it was either ‘yowai hanabi’, ‘chotto tsuyoi’ or ‘tsuyoi hanabi’ but after he realised we were laughing at him it got more abstract like ‘super smash hanabi’ or ‘mega ultra grandpa hanabi’. We decided he’s gonna grow up and become either a wine or movie critic, or a panel member for a Japanese TV show.

Tomorrow I’ll be studying for a test on Tuesday, which I expect we may have already been given in parts, which I intend to memorize. Wish me luck.

Jap Glossary
tsuyoi – strong yowai – weak hanabi – firework chotto – a little