Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Foreigner at a Craft Bazaar - Year 2!

First and foremost- A big old thank you to everyone who supported and came to visit me last Friday at the Nagoya YWCA Fall Bazaar.  I had a great time AND I managed to come through with a decent profit.  I hope you enjoyed your cake pops!


After wrapping on the bazaar and lugging my set-up back home, I immediately hopped on a bullet train out to the Navy Base with The Mister to attend a ball celebrating our anniversary (actually the US Navy’s 241st birthday, though we’re good at pretending)... but that might be for next post.  

Back to that Bazaar.  I had a lovely spot at the back of the main entertainment area, which meant that while peddling my wares I got to watch a few acts.  I also got a fantastic vantage point for people watching.  So in the spirit of my bazaar reporting from last year, let’s talk about 

The People Foreigners See at a Craft Bazaar Part Deaux 二

1.  Stamp Collectors
It’s not uncommon in Japan for events to promote the collection of stamps.  A person who manages to get all the stamps in any particular collection can be entered to win prizes.  At this bazaar, each selling area had a stamp which visitors could collect in order to, I believe, be awarded a free pen.  That morning, the very first people I saw enter my area (where I was sitting next to the stamp station), were two nuns in full habits, who came in, excitedly stamped their flyers, giggled, and immediately turned on their heels to find the rest of the stamps throughout the event.  Since I never saw them again, I hope they got their pens… and I hope those pens were worth the 500yen entry fee they would have paid to enter the bazaar and presumably buy and participate in nothing else. 


2.  The Children’s Entertainment
As the stage area was directly in front of my table space, I was elated to watch the children’s entertainment at the bazaar.  A fun, colorful duo lead all the little kids at the bazaar in songs about frogs and snakes (with puppets!), the Totoro theme, and my personal fave, a song about a farting cow, which featured a man in a cow costume playing a kazoo and cow bell while pretending to fart real loud.  This number was an obvious crowd pleaser.  And honestly, I really loved how easy it was to understand what was going on in their show because obviously they were using real simple baby Japanese.  



3.   The Seller of Questionable Health
The booth right next to mine was a jeweler.  Selling not just any jewelry, like, NICE jewelry.  Real Minato Pearls, precious gems, gold and silver, you get the point.  But maybe once every 15 minutes the jewler (who was super kind, if not a quiet fellow) would duck out of the room, leaving all his wares unattended.  Thankfully, because this is Japan, there is no actual concern for his wares being knicked.  I was, however, concerned that this man’s frequent potty breaks were signifiers of a real danger in his prostate.  I said as much to KP2 (who was so kind as to hang out at my booth and help peddle cupcakes), and we had a brief conversation about how to politely share with someone that they need to see a doctor for a very *ahem* personal exam.  Then he mentioned he was going out for a quick smoke and left again.  So we switched our concerns from prostate cancer to lung cancer, as clearly this man had packed a carton of cigarettes to bring along to the bazaar, and he intended to go through them all in that 5 hours.



4. The Looky-Lou of Questionable Motivation.
An older man accompanying his wife to the bazaar took a seat in the back row of the stage area to wait while his lady tried on some jewelry.  He took this fifteen minute time-frame to twist around in his seat to intently stare at me.  The entire 15 minutes.  Just staring.  I couldn’t tell if he was offended by my foreigner presence, or maybe just confused by it, but his facial expression clearly wasn’t one that gave off positive vibes.  It’s not the first time I’ve gotten “gaijin glares,” but I have come to the conclusion that I really need to work on a canned response to being oogled like a zoo animal.



5.  The Lady I Looky-Loued.
She caught me staring, so I didn’t take any pictures, because I was already admittedly being a creeper.  BUT.  There was a seller in my area who had exactly one product and it was brilliant and I watched her demo it at least two dozen times.  She had engineered an Obi belt for Kimono that was an already made bow and sash which one could position and tie themselves without any snaps or clips (if you’ve ever tried to tie an Obi yourself, you understand this is a magical invention).  I sort of wanted one, but I was too embarrassed to ask if she had one for women with a waist bigger than 15 inches, so I just kept to my cake pops.  *le sigh, the joys of being American Sized.*



6.  The Adult's Entertainment
This is a misnomer, but the second musical act which came to the stage was a musical story-teller who played the shamisen and recorder as he told stories about historical Okinawa.  He was well dressed, well spoken, and had a confident swagger that is not super common in Japanese men.  KP2, as she sat next to me, was having a hard time not swooning ad his swept back salt and pepper hair.  And judging by the event organizers needing to bring out extra chairs for the gaggle of obaasans that crowded the space, she was not the only one.  



7.  The Final Act
A troupe of four ladies played us out of the Bazaar.  They all had guitars and sang some very pretty traditional Japanese songs.  A lovely act, all the more endearing because they’re all women who work with the YWCA, and as such, they had a fan base at the bazaar who brought out decorated fans like one might see at a boy-band concert.  They also got a standing ovation and an encore at the end of their set, which they used as an opportunity to play Edelweiss from The Sound of Music.  It was precious.


All and all it was a great time, I’m flattered to have been asked back, and I hope I can make it a three-peat next year.  And in that vein, someone remind me my big lessons from this year’s table, K?
  1. Japanese people do not want Chocolate Chip Cookies (I sold zero! ha!) 
  2. Japanese people TOTALLY do want cake pops.  Make more of those, less of everything else.

Have you been to a Craft Fair / Artists Market like this?  
What was your favorite find?  
Are you a gaijin? 
How do you handle the Gaijin Glare?  
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
白鳥は、私を見て停止します
Hakuchō wa, watashiwomite teishi shimasu

stop looking at me, swan.


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