I think it's just called "Grandparents' Day" in the U.S., but here in Japan they actually get a whole day off of work, making a Monday holiday and three-day weekend. (Except for our school, which has a Back to School Day so we can meet the parents.)
I guess all the other 364 days you don't have to respect the aged? No, no. Don't worry, it's Japan.
And since Japan has a declining population (a top-heavy elderly demographic rate alongside a decreasing birth rate) perhaps this day will becoming more and more popular?
Other random observations:
My roommate works at a karaoke bar part-time, and this weekend he saw multi-generational groups coming in. (Each group of patrons get their own closet-slash-room for karaoke, as opposed to the open mic night found in most Western bars.) The dads and moms ordered gin tonics and wine cocktails, the grandmas the green tea, and the little ones the orange juice.
I have seen a special apron in the 100-yen Store that is marketed as a bathing apron for when you bathe your grandparent (or maybe that might be your in-law?)
Tokyo is a 'walking city', with all the stores and homes and suburbs spread out around the public transport-- and no matter how much public transport there is, the sheer number of people requires an urban sprawl. You will often see the grandmas and grandpas, a bit smaller and more hunched from age and generations of different food and health, shuffling through the sprawl with patience and tenacity. They sometimes remind me of the old Hare and Tortoise story as the world rushes past them.
So, oba-chan and ojii-san, omodeto on your special day!
Apparently, there was a synchronized walking competition. (Hey, it's making the viral video sharing rounds.) If you ask me, it's like a sophisticated marching band without the instruments. Can watching 8 minutes of guys in suits walking in lines be entertaining? Kind of! You tell me:
Sorry for the lack of posting. I was in a rhythm but the bad "habits" of having too much work to do and not enough time to do it is raising its ugly head again! Man, that's such an ugly head!
This weekend was spent camping with some friends on the other side of Tokyo bay, really on the other side of the Izu peninsula that helps form the bay. It takes a few hours to get there, but the place is really secluded (although that could be because technically there are big signs that read, in Japanese, that you aren't supposed to camp there until October 1.)
But the water was great, the friends were cool, and the weather allowed for a healthy tan. The campfire was awesome and, best of all, the water held a surprise for us.
We were camping along the beach in an area dotted with giant cliffs rising nearby from the beach shelf, and there were plenty of kelp beds and interesting fish to snorkle by. (There's even a local scuba scene!) And while it was certainly a nicely-sized inlet for a beach, in some ways the place naturally formed tide pools as the evening went on and the ocean crept up to meet us.
The surprise was discovered as the campfire died down and we noticed the crests of the incoming waves held an eerie reflection. In fact, it was not a reflection at all, but bio-luminescent microorganisms that ignited with sparkles when kicked up by the action of the water! We gathered close to watch the water wash over the rocks in the tide pools, and sure enough, the ripples glittered with flecks of bio-electricity-- a thousand tiny fireflies in the water. We trailed our fingers and created stardust. We jumped in and had speckles of light all over our bodies. We laughed and played like little children discovering something new about the world for the first time.
And it seemed to be that it was only us few who were able to enjoy this. Perhaps this only happened once a year, or maybe it never happened before. Perhaps the big sign warned everyone away and so no one could ever notice it before. But at some point, we had to come out, wistfully say goodbye, and trundle off to bed so we could finish off the weekend. It was a great way to enjoy the weekend, for sure!
Even though I'm starting my fourth year here in Japan, there still seems to be so much I don't know. I have to rely on the interwebz to help me in my ignorance. Case in point-- I never knew that banks and convenience stores and et cetera were meant to throw orange balls at shady people who try to rob them. Does this account for the low crime rate in Japan or is it in spite of it?
The hot weather reminds of the time there was this octopus who lived in a tree, and his best friend, a giant peanut, wanted to go to a pool, except there was this giant jellyfish in it. Only, once they lured the jellyfish away with music, there wasn't any water in the pool, or in the river, or in the well that they had to build from scratch and pump all night. Finally a badger came by and told them the water was shut off, and they fell asleep.