Wednesday, February 16, 2005

(not so) controlled insanity

this is a mail i received from my buddy kevin, who lives far north of me in Akita prefecture. A very snowy, cold and obviously bloodthirsty place... read on:

Last night, we attended the Takeuchi festival in Rokugo, up here in
Akita, and it was quite possibly the most insane event I have beared
witness to in Japan. At about 8pm, after many bottles of sake, the town
fellas divide tthemselves into North and South sections. A pitch had been
cleared earlier in the day for the festival, and by 8pm, it looked like
a massive dog-fighting arena. Just after 8:30pm, all of the guys taking
part were drunk enough to begin, and they strapped on helmets and
wielded 20 foot long bamboo poles.
The whistle sounded for round one, and the guys all went at each other,
slapping sticks into each other and pushing and shoving. Three minutes
later, round one was finished. A second round followed, and it was
crazy as well.
But when the third round warm ups began, the air about the place
changed. They lit a 10 foot pile of garbage on fire, and all of the
participants (about 100 from the North and 100 from the South), lit their bamboo
poles on fire. The folk story says that if the North wins, there will
be a good rice harvest in Rokugo this year, so they shoved all of the
foreigners onto the South`s team (can you believe it? of course you can).
When the whistle blew, all hell broke loose. Dudes were going back into
the fire with the poles and just all out wailing on each other, in
order to push back their opponents and win the battle. The townfolk were
screaming bloody murder at each other, and lil` Takeru watched as his dad
beat the pulp out of his best friend`s papa. About halfway through the
fight, it became clear that the poles weren`t very important. By this
time, there were dudes running in, no pole in hand, and just all out
wailing on other guys. My friend Geoff, a humongous rugby boy, got the
living hell beaten out of him. He crawled to the sidelines for help,
shouting `stop` in French, and the guys from the North followed him into the
crowd. He was about 5 rows deep into the audience, on all fours, before
a woman stopped the kicks that were coming his way.
Finally, after about 5 minutes, the whistle sounded and the fight was
over. The sides retreated to their corners and that was that. Kind of.
Once the referees left the pitch, everyone came out to congratulate
their buddies. That`s when the fistfights started. And they went on for
about 30 minutes.
I had no idea what to expect from this, and I didn`t have any headgear.
Next year, I will be prepared and I will fight to the death. Maybe I
can even get the construction helmet my friend Brian wore, which bore the
phrase "FUCK YOU" in masking tape on the front.
Okay, back to work,


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