Sunday, July 4, 2010

Community spirit

One of the things that really impresses me is the community spirit/pride I see in some of the more...rural...areas of Towada.

For example, today I went to the 8th Annual Kennan Kyoudogeinou Festival (第8回県南郷土芸能フェスティバル)--part of the Oirase Roman Park Festival (奥入瀬ろまんパークフェスティバル). (According to my Kenkyusha Dictionary, "Kyoudougeninou" can be translated as "local performing arts"--although I think that's a little awkward, I don't have a better translation, so...)

It featured local traditional dances from Towada-shi, Rokunohe-machi, and Shingo-mura. Representing Towada were Kamikirida Elementary School with the Kirida Koma Odori (駒踊り horse dance) and Sawada Elementary School and the Sawada Keimai Club with the Sawada Keimai (鶏舞 chicken dance).

Even though I've seen both dances and all three of the groups' performances several times in the past, I still found it impressive. What I find most impressive is the amount of effort everyone involved--the schools, children, parents, local people--puts into preserving the local traditions/culture.

The elementary schools set aside time for the students to learn and practice the dances. Students give up their recess and lunch breaks to practice for performances. Parents and members of the community come in to teach the students and/or to play the flutes/drums as accompaniment. I especially respect the members of the Sawada Keimai Club (mostly junior high and high school students) because it's something they do outside of school, in their free time. (And although they weren't performing this time, there are also adult groups that perform both the Kirida Koma Odori and Sawada Keimai.)

I imagine they probably all feel a strong sense of community and pride in their local traditions/history/culture. It must be nice. If I was a person looking to start a family in Towada, I think I would want to live in the Kirita or Sawada area (or Takisawa or Horanai--they also have local traditional dances) rather than closer to the city centre.

Going to watch my students' performances also reminds me how lucky I was to get placed as the Kirita ALT because I doubt I would ever have found out about events like the Kyoudogeinou/Oirase Roman Park Festival otherwise.