June 10, 2023

During my first month living in Japan, there was a huge local festival. I’ve never been to a matsuri before; I don’t think I was prepared for it.

Before the day came, I was getting pressure from Nobtaka and Ayumi to participate. Even Daikichi (10) got in on it. However, I think I just felt out of place. Fresh off the boat, fish out of water.

Motokuni, Nob’s brother, brought me inside the house, upstairs, to a densly packed room. He opened a box and took out a hanten. He told me that I could be a tourist and watch. Or I could put this on and be a person who lives here. This is what I needed to hear. That I could belong here.

Carrying a mikoshi is hard work. I took turns, like many of my neighbors. It weighs more than a ton. You share that burden at the base of your neck, not on your shoulder. If you’re not careful, you could really hurt yourself.

I’m glad I did it. That event made me feel part of this area in a way I’m not sure anything else could.

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