In case you missed part I: Belly Dancing in Japan
Deer:Nara :: Nike Stores:Kyoto
A working vacation is hard to plan. On one hand, performing belly dance in Japan was a wonderful experience, but on the other hand, there were was so much more sight seeing we wanted to experience. Finding the right balance between playing tourist and performer was challenging at times.
During our play time, Surreyya and I visited Nara, which is famous for hosting one of the world’s largest Buddha statues and also famous for its dense deer population outside the Kasuga Shrine. According to legend, the ancient god Takemikazuchi rode into Nara on a white deer and guarded the city. To this day, deer are regarded as sacred animals and protectors. To pay homage to the deer, we bought some deer biscuits (shika sembei) to feed them. After their aggressive attempts to find more deer biscuits in our pockets, we decided to not test their fighting ability and moved on to the city center to experience a Japanese street festival. Music, dancers, parades, street vendors, and more all gathered around a large pond in the city center. At dusk, people started lighting candles to float on small wooden boats in the pond. It looked really fun and we wanted to stay, but duty called and we had to hop a train to Kyoto for a performance with Keke and her belly dance school.
Finding Cafe Poone Poone was a bit of a challenge in the large commercial Kyoto downtown. We were told it was located across the street from the Nike store, but were dismayed when we found 3 Nike Stores on Kawaramachi Dori! After a few frantic phone calls, we found one of Keke’s students flagging us down on the sidewalk and were escorted to the Persian restaurant for our show. Keke was a wonderful hostess and her students were as excited to see American style belly dance as we were to see Japanese style belly dance.
Performing for a Japanese audience was a different experience from what we were used to. While performing the entire restaurant stopped eating and turned to watch the belly dance show with rapt attention. I felt bad that their food was getting cold, but I guess that is to be expected when seeing a dinner show in Japan. The audience watched in dead silence until the end of the routine when a polite golf clap was delivered. Confused, we were uncertain they liked our performance, but after the show, we found out that they loved it. We were just used to the way Americans show their appreciation by whooping, screaming, and clapping mid-show. The Japanese show their appreciation in a different way. We also learned that keeping your glass half full of sake will prevent you from being pressured into drinking more than planned during the show’s after-party!
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