So there we were with all our new friends. The man from Mt. Fuji (my Japanese grandpa), wanted to talk about Obama. The geisha got more and more excited with every passing group. The parade began with the things we had seen, the crane ladies, the school children and the dragon. At this point, John's camera lost its power.
The parade was two hours long. It was historical, and the Singapore ladies explained as much as they could, as did my new Japanese grandfather. Many of the people were dressed in traditional costume, but it seemed to go in chronological order... we saw samurai and ninja ("ninja! ninja!" grandpa insisted, miming throwing stars), from many different eras. There was a lot of representation of the Edo era, and famous feudal lords were actually identified by name with large banners that proceeded them.
Then John's video camera died, and so did his audio recorder on loan from NPR.
There were also Kabuki actors in mask, puppets, and clowns. There was a man who climbed up a ladder and did tricks. There were samurai who yelled, and samurai who acted out sword fights for us. Japanese children bowing and smiling. Men carrying old instruments. Women dressed as geishas or in other traditional gowns. The ninjas did a demonstration right in front of us. There were about 8 of them and they all fought to the death!!
We heard people yell "America! America" and looked up and saw a group of U.S soldiers dressed in 1800s gear in the parade. The parade had happened to stop just then, so they were all waving and smiling at us, the white people in the crowd. One of them asked where we were from, so we started talking to them. They were there representing Commodore Perry's involvement in the Convention of Kanagawa. Since the parade stopped we got up and took our picture with them. Japanese grandpa was really excited. He offered to take the photo for us. Then he wanted one of just me and the soldier I had been talking to. Then I got my picture with Japanese Grandpa and he gave me his business card so I can translate it later and send him the photos.
People around us laughed and smiled and cheered.
At this point Casey's camera was full. So there we were: sitting on a street in Tokyo, in the FRONT row of the crowd that had assembled watching ninjas fight to the death with our new family, and no way to show you what we saw. but you have to believe us.
So the parade was amazing and breathtaking, and afterwards we said goodbye to each of our new friends, and then these photographers came up and wanted our picture so we let them. It's weird being American here, but everyone seems really happy to see us, so that's good.
I can't believe I still have so much to write about. I need a Part Three.