Oh boy, obon!

It's that time of year again where, amid the sweltering heat and numerous spectacular thunder storms Japan collectively goes on holiday. Though there are no national holidays this month most companies will graciously allow employees to cash in their holiday days, some even going so far as to actually give a few away, mandatory, though strangely almost never a full week's worth. I, too, have the pleasure of bumming off for a few days.

Obon has some history in Buddhism, so I am little interested in the theory behind it. It has something to do with dead people, I think. There will probably be some bon odori, fun little festivals where people dance in a large circle around a tent where some local will be banging the drums. These are nice events to hang out at, especially as they only come by once a year. Then we will have our local fireworks too where we'll be sitting on the grass getting drunk and hoping our bladder will hold out so as not to have to queue for the few public toilets before we all try to get back on the train home amongst the several thousand other attendees. The fireworks are good fun, though the trip home afterwards is always somewhat of a chore.

Mostly I am looking forward to the arse-end of the season, as I will be working a few days that week and, hopefully, most of Tokyo won't. That way I might be able to enjoy a commute without having the life squeezed out of me or being drenched in salaryman sweat. As with Golden Week in spring, Obon has the annoyance of being a regular holiday, so prices shoot up and holiday destinations are booked full weeks, months in advance. Very often developers elect to work through such holidays to accrue days off in lieu to spend a little after the season when prices are back to normal and availability won't be an issue. As I am saving my holiday days for a later, better use, I'll just take off the days I'm given and work the rest.

As my XBox's internal calendar is set to "Japanese" the console has, in anticipation of my approaching spare time, again refused to operate, sitting there with a green eye blinking, not doing much more and not even having the common decency to flash red. Especially this time I am annoyed as I was looking forward to some Braid and Castle Crashers, but Microsoft has willed it not to be. I am toying with the idea of having the machine fixed a third time, but I am a little afraid of the inevitable verbal aggression I'll need to display to the useless prongs at the help center. With this heat I don't know if I can muster the energy to shout them down to size, as they so richly deserve. Luckily Sony is there to pick up the pieces and I shouldn't wonder I will be spending my entire holiday playing PixelJunk Eden, which is a fine, fine game.

I had some plans to go out too, but this weather is still beating me down. Given the choice between a headachy day indoors underneath the air-conditioner or venturing outside in the blazing, stifling heat, the choice should be simple. I look forward too to my occasional excursions out on the balcony for a cigarette and listening to the noisy cicadas whirring up to deafening decibels, as well as having a good go at my drinks cabinet and trying out some new cocktail recipes. Which reminds me, I need to buy more vodka.

8 comments:

  1. I've wanted to attend a matsuri for some time now; doesn't matter if it's Obon or any other yukata-charged event, they all seem as though they'd be entertaining but not manic, and relaxing but not sleep-inducing.

    You're a fortunate man, JC.

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  2. Sorry to hear your Xbox has exploded again, especially with Braid having just been released.. hopefully the PC release isn't too far down the line.

    Enjoy your holiday!

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  3. Braid is one of those games everyone should play.

    I suppose it wouldn't help if while on the line with Xbox support you mention you're a journalist of some sort and that Xbox's shitty customer service will be fully documented for the world to see?

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  4. @doesnotequal: Yeah, matsuris can be fun. They are so very typically Japanese and I get to see the happy, friendly faces as opposed to the morose and aggressive commuter ones.

    @Steve: Thanks. Didn't work though. I was laid low with a cold during ALL of my days off. Waste of time.... :(

    @ixis: Maybe not press, but I have on a previous and entirely different occasion had great success with hamming up my Queen's English and calling "on behalf of a Mr. Barnett" without giving details on who I was supposed to be. The Japanese fear and respect authority and giving the impression (just the impression) you are some kind of legal or otherwise official organisation dealing with your case can yield great results!
    It requires intermediate gamesman skills, but it works. I might try that this time with the Xox helpdesk....

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