Wednesday 22 July 2015

Kitamachi Awa Odori

Just a few more days to go now before Kitamachi Awa Odori this coming Saturday, near Tobu Nerima station. This is another of our regular events, popular with both spectators and performers, and notably different from last week's Kyodo Matsuri in several key areas.

  1. This is primarily an Awa Odori event, so there are a lot more teams.
  2. The roads are much wider, giving a lot more space to perform, and a lot more space for spectators to set up camp and relax with a delightful beverage and some grilled chicken.
  3. The roads are also much longer. Kyodo averages 180 meters from start to goal line, whereas Kitamachi is closer to 280 (which is still far from the longest...)
  4. It is very very hot.

This last point came to become a serious issue a few years back, when I had to drop out part way through for fear of heat stroke. I was fine in the end, but missed out on the second half of the performances. Since then, I've been sure to take necessary precautions ahead of time to prevent a repeat.

One such precaution is to ensure I'm properly hydrated throughout the afternoon. Thankfully most rooms we're provided to change in (over the course of a couple of hours) have some kind of air conditioning which takes a lot of the edge off. Kitamachi, unfortunately, does not provide such a place. A local school lets us use their gym hall, which has excellent airflow, but you're still contending with the humidity. A two litre bottle of tea (not water) that is sipped from frequently gets me off to the best start.

The other precaution is a supply of salt tablets which I keep on my person. They're not actually tablets of salt, but more like a solid sherbert sports candy containing salt and other minerals lost through sweat. What often happens is after a particularly gruelling portion, I'll find myself parched, but no matter how much water or tea I gulp at the provided water stations, I feel no less thirsty. What I found is that in such situations, it may feel like I'm thirsty, but what I really need is salt. Crunch on a salt tablet and I'm instantly better. Another cup of water to wash it down? No, I'm good. What always surprises me is just how quickly it works. It's literally the moment I crunch into it, everything is suddenly well with the world and I'm good to go.

Alternating between sports drinks and water can also be effective, though the option isn't normally available, unless I want to spend all my money at vending machines.

Now, having reviewed video footage of last week's festival, there are a few parts of our staged piece that I wasn't quite happy with. I'll be setting aside a bit of time before we begin to try and get everybody cleaned up, so we should be able to open with a nicely polished routine.

The festival goes on from 18:25 to 20:30 this Saturday evening, about 30 seconds walk from the south exit of Tobu Nerima station. You won't regret it!

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