Yesterday, I packed my bags ready to leave Aka Jima, and set out from the hotel in direction of the beach for swim and lunch before grabbing the afternoon ferry home. I was waylayed. As I passed a small strip of coral beach before Nishibama Beach, I heard a small voice call out to me, I turned to find a wetsuit clad someone skipping up to me on the other side of the breakwall, asking if I knew when the next ferry was. I did not.
Within a minute, the Flower Child had explained that she had just received a call from a friend saying that the last bullfight festival for the season was free, and on today in Uruma, which was only a half hour drive from Naha. Within five minutes she was drawing me a map to Uruma. Within ten minutes she said 'Why don't you just come with me, I'll drive you?' the map was discarded. Within twenty minutes, we had both changed our ferry tickets for the 10:20, picked up my bags from the hotel, and were getting to know each other as we waited for the boat to arrive. At this point we thought it was a good idea to introduce ourselves.
We rode the top of the ferry on the way back to Tomari Port, piled into the Flower Child's car and headed back to her base to rendezvous with her mate. Her car had a once black now faded green soft toy Shisa on the dash, for which she told the story as she drove. She had had a friend come an visit her that had been stationed in South Korea, shortly before he arrived in Japan he had had his fortune told by a Korean magic man. The magic man had given him a card with his reading, which he brought with him to Japan. On his arrival, all sorts of little bad things began to happen, as if the Korean ju ju was not quite compatible with the Japonic atmosphere, shortly after the card was burned and to counteract the bad luck the Shisa was purchased.
Shisa are half-dog half-lion guardians in Okinawa which adorn everything, but are more commonly found in pairs, at the feet of doorways and on rooftops. The car-Shisa has kept the Flower Child safe ever since.On the way to base, we found out that FC's friend, Captain America, had been called in for duty for a couple of hours, so in the meantime we secured me a visitor pass, and we drove 'where ever the Shisa may lead us'. Which I found pretty exciting because I had never been 'on base' before, and FC told me all about life there.
Now, between Captain America's work taking longer than expected, stopping for lunch, getting lost, and someone perhaps not having spoken up when they should have, we missed the bullfights. We in fact arrived at the arena, just in time, to see the last bull being driven out in its float, and down the street in the opposite direction.
By this time the Flower Child had also mentioned her and Captain America's plans to see a live gig that night and invited me along, I agreed readily, as this was easily included in 'where ever the Shisa may lead us', so we travelled back to Naha, where the show was going to be held, and to snow cones and icecream to console our lack of bullfighting disappointment. As the time of the gig neared, we strolled down to the live house, which turned out to be only a few blocks from my hostel, and spent the rest of the night happily moshing, thrashing and dancing away to the less than dulcet tones of Roach, Don't Stop, Eat Wagner, 4edge and Run it to Ground. Roach and Run it to Ground being the highlights of the evening, with Roach's phenomenal stage presence, and Run to the Ground proving, as unlikely as it might sound, that Japanese chicks can play some pretty awesome heavy metal.
After the gig and meeting the bands, who all knew FC, it was almost time for Captain America's curfew, so we parted for the evening, but not before making plans to meet up again to go 'where ever the Shisa my lead us'.