As part of a series I`m thinking of trying out (I have a lot of ideas at all time, most of which never find any fruition. Sorry if I promise anything?), I`m considering to post some photographs I`m particularly proud of, with the story behind them.
So here`s the first one, and then let`s see where this goes!
I took this picture in the city of Naha, Okinawa, Japan, in July 2010. I had just randomly gone to Okinawa, because I wanted to travel and JAL had discounts all summer so I thought `oh hell why not` and went off to Okinawa. I found a cheap hostel, flew there, and had no clue about what to do there. My basic course of action for the whole month of travelling was “go wherever I can go cheaply, and then ask the locals what I should see or do”. It`s a strategy I can recommend to everyone.
So when I was at Okinawa, I bummed around a bit, visited the castle (Shuri Jou), went to the really big aquarium (Churaumi), walked around Naha a lot. I also talked a lot to the other people at the hostel, which was at the time only the owner and one other girl who literally lived there.
So one day, I was just eating lunch in the “living room” (which was actually just a corner) while trying to watch the crappy, decidedly pink-screened television, when the owner of the hostel came in. The conversation went roughly like this:
Him: “so what are you doing today?”
Me: “hmm, I don`t know. Is there anything to do?”
Him: “Well, actually, there`s a really big festival today over at Kokusaidori (the main shopping street, red.) It`s held only once a year. Shouldn`t you go check it out?”
Me: “Sounds good. What time does it start?”
Him: “At two.”
Me: *looks at clock. Clock says 1:50 pm* huh.
Him: “THAT`S SO JAPANESE HOW YOU RESPONDED OMG WOW.” (I might have paraphrased this slightly, but you get the idea).
So I gathered my stuff, and off I went.
When I arrived at Kokusaidori, which was a 10 minute walk through roofed market streets that always smelled like all the wares were rotting, the street was filled all over with people. There were people watching on the sides, and there were people on the street in the Okinawan outfits you can see an example of above.
I went to the start of the road, to get a better view, and then suddenly, this entire street, that had 10.000 people in Okinawan outfits on it, started dancing the same dance. It was amazing.
Like that, the dance went on and off and on and off, they kept restarting. So I walked up and down the street, making photographs, asking around. And then this picture happened.
You see the happy little girl on the picture? She was adorable. While everyone else was doing the same dance, she was just so excited to be there, dancing along, that she started running circles around people and just generally hopping about and having a good time.
All in all it was such a perfect day. The weather was great, the atmosphere was great, everyone was having fun. There were contests and performances from all the separate participating groups later, and you could see everyone was in this because they love it.
I still smile every time I see this picture.