HAPPY NEW YEAR... Again? Yup, Ain't that grand. I get to do it twice this year - a second chance to get my resolutions started right.
Unfortunately, the Chinese New Year isn't observed here. And, I think we are the only Asian country that are made to work all this week. =( Still, my friend and I didn't let that bother us and headed down to Chinatown to see the parade.
To westerners it seems strange to have a Chinatown in Japan. However, while they are some similarities, the Chinese and Japanese cultures are very different from each other. This Chinatown is said to be the world's biggest. And even though I can't exactly vouch for the whole world, it's the biggest I've ever seen and the closest replica of the real thing.
Once the parade got started, a metal box of exploding fireworks was pulled down the street. The fireworks are used to wake up the dragon who will fly across the sky to bring the spring rain for the crops and also to scare away all evil spirits and misfortunes from coming into the new year.
After the fireworks came marching several couples in Chinese style costumes followed by musicians. Then came a variety of Chinese dragons. Ah yes the dragons: short and long, big and small in a multitude of colors. The long dragons were being carried by 7 or more guys and the performance was extremely well synchronize. It was like the world Olympics of dragon twirling. They were swooping, swirling, shimmying, and shaking. It was great.
To cap it all off, we got caught in a shoving match between all the people trying to leave the parade and those trying to get into the parade. The narrow streets just weren't big enough for both of them. In the end, the people trying to leave the parade won and just a few feet away was a man keen on practicing his English shouting "Mother F'ers!"