My father in-law rushed through the sliding door, to the corridor leading to the low lying Japanese table where we were. The creaking sound of the 50 year old wooden floor followed his every step. “Akari will be in the omikoshi parade!”
An omikoshi is a portable Shinto shrine carried around the neighborhood in a spirit of excitement and revelry. However this was a small town and the omikoshi is carried by children (pre-selected by drawing lots). Believing that children who are inside the decorated cart would be blessed with good health the whole year through, my in-laws prayed that their only grandchild be selected as we only visit Japan once a year now. We have left when she was barely three and now at nearly seven, it seems that everything Japan related is only but a faint memory to her. She even forgot most of the language already.
I was worried. How will she interact with the local children? Will she even understand or enjoy the event?
The children carrying the omikoshi regularly stopped to dance merrily, tossing the omikoshi up and down, timed at the beat of a taiko (Japanese drum) and whistles of the children.
I underestimated my daughter. She was a natural. In her blazing red festival coat, she had the biggest smile, the loudest whistle and the biggest voice chanting, “Wasshoi! Wasshoi!”
She embraced Japan and everything about it as if we never left at all.