St. Patrick’s Day Parade In Ise: Only A Little Late! (With Power Rangers)

March 18, 2010

Ise is the holiest city in all of Japan, containing one of (if not the) most famous shrine in the entire country. If my memory of Japanese History: The Tokugawa Period class in college can be trusted, it’s where the sun goddess sprung out of the Earth to create Japan…or something along those lines. Ise also lays claim to a far less divine staple…the “Irish Day” (St. Patrick’s Day) parade. The weekend before the actual booze-tastic holiday, foreigners and Irish-aping Japanese folks dawn green and take to the streets. It’s the only event of it’s kind in Mie.

It’s also kind of a disappointment. The people behind organizing the parade deserve all sorts of credit for pulling this off, but that still doesn’t mean the actual events anything to write home about (errrrr, unless you blog about all sorts of worthless info). It’s fun…but I hoped for either some sort of crazy spectacle or at least an interesting look at how the Japanese view Irish culture. They view it the exact same way most Americans do…wear green, drink Guinness, have a parade. Save for sushi being the main culinary fare offered at the rag-tag Irish vending area, it all went pretty smoothly. People marched, people danced, people said stuff, the citizens of Ise stared. I didn’t stay very long.

Maybe we came to early?

Maybe we came to early?

They distributed silly hats

They distributed silly hats

And now we're walking

And now we're walking

OK, the kids were legitimately adorable

OK, the kids were legitimately adorable

There were a few notes of interest. Mainly, Power Rangers. Besides having a Japanese “St. Patrick Guy” and a town mascot, Ise also had a troupe of mighty morphin (copyright?) dudes hanging out to promote some Irish pride. Lots of cities in Japan have these types of Power Rangers – they do shows, I’m told, to promote…something? Following the law? Respecting your elders? Not littering? Not radically drastic from, say, McGruff but still highly intricate. The Power Rangers even had villains cruising around town with them…despite handing out “Wanted” posters, the Rangers never laid a finger on them. What kind of message does that send?

Not Power Rangers, whatever

Not Power Rangers, whatever

Still can't believe Urkel voiced that one robot

Still can't believe Urkel voiced that one robot

He looks more geriatric than evil

He looks more geriatric than evil

Culture Clash Image

Culture Clash Image

(Japanese Fun Fact #50: Not really a “fact” per se as much as some scenes from today’s soft tennis club:

– One kid saying “I don’t like money” over and over again, only later for me to realize she was saying “I don’t like [student who has a name that sounds like money]” as a joke. Kids got a lot of laughs out of that one.

– Discussing the character of Jack Sparrow alongside the students.

– Being called a “vampire” when I put my hood on because it started raining.

– Being called “mouse boy” when I put my hood on because it started raining.

– Being asked if I “like escargot,” responding in the negative and then high-fiving six students who also did not like escargot. Or who just wanted a high-five and said “me too.”

– Having students recite the “soft tennis” dialogue passage of their textbook to me. They do pay attention!

Love me some soft tennis club.)

(I’m clearly a failure at teaching English file: One of my classes wrote me a very cute greeting on the blackboard this week. Unfortunately, they wrote “we love Patoric.” Still “awww shucks” inducing.)

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