singing

Skilled laborers singing karaoke together

Skilled laborers singing karaoke together banner

You don’t need to be Donald Richie— noted American film critic, high culture interlocutor, and lover of Tokyo construction workers– to swoon over this neighborhood banner celebrating the association of skilled laborers. In Japanese, they are called gatenkei no hito (ガテン系のひと).

What says solidarity more than singing karaoke in hard hats and head towels? The husband reminds me that skilled workers, like yakuza, have a reputation for chosen male families and gay sex.

Summer obon festival

Summer obon festival Dog Yukata

The rainy season is officially over, and two nights ago we went to an Obon Festival in Tsukudajima. Summer is a time for wearing yukatas, which are light cotton, simpler kimonos. This dog’s yukata has a dragonfly pattern, and a big red belt.

The festival also features lanterns strung across the street, a senior citizen beating a huge drum, another singing on the loud speaker, and a third leading school children in a dance of twirling and clapping.

Obon in Tsukudajima Obon in Tsukudajima with kids dancing

And an altar for prayers to the dead.

Obon Tsukudajima altar

Afterwards we went with our friend Claudia for okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake, and soba noodles, admired the many yankii boys with their small children, and left the restaurant too late to buy a flavored shaved ice on the street.