Friday, 30 April 2010

Kyoto Mayday

I participated in the ”Dispersal and disobedience” Mayday in Kyoto yesterday. Here's a short report.

The weather was perfect and pleasant, although the people carrying the gigant puppet must have had a hard time because of the strong wind.

It was also beautiful. There is a tendency for people to associate beauty with defeat - with resignation, loss, the serenity and clarity of distance. But beauty can be much more than that. It can be an oil can bath and the sun shining on a gigant puppet!

The name of even was "dispersal and disobedience" (Chôsan to fufukujû), "dispersal" being an old term from premodern Japan when villagers would mass-emigrate in protest against feudal oppression. Here the theme was flight and exit from the norms and the system, "away from everything people tell you that you have to do", as one of the participants told me.

There's a pleasant atmosphere at the gathering in the park from where the demonstration will set out. Acquaintances everywhere. Happy faces. "Kyou wa hare no hi", I think - a sunny day, but also a day for celebration. My surprise at finding a person who has come all the way from Tokushima to participate - wonderful! Endô-san has brought the old flag she used for her hunger strike: "Not just hungry, but angry!".

The people of Bochibochi start distributing signs for us to carry. I get one with the words "Chôsan", dispersal.


Other people carry signs with words like "I made the wrong choice when I started to work" or "Form is emptiness" or "It's OK to escape".

It's time. As we head north towards Shijô, jubilation starts as the procession is joined by the oil can. It's Kubikubi's famous old can which has been turned into a bath (doramu kan buro)! It's pushed on a small chart. The first time ever that an oil can bath appears in a Mayday demonstration? :)


(I think it's OK for me to publish this photo - if anyone on it has objections, please tell me and I'll remove it)

It's a small demonstration and sometimes the disproportion in strength against surrounding society feels overwhelming. We are a like a small brook, I reflect. The people crossing the pedestrian crossing outside Takashimaya almost look like they are as many. For a moment I recall Simmel's words about modern society making people feel they are a "quantité neglieable", a neglieable quality.

But on the way something happens. Beauty arrives!

Maybe it's the laughter and jubilation around Kubikubi's oil can. Maybe because we are now walking in the sun (Thinking about the sun might be important when planning a demo course). The sun is shining in the flags and on the gigant puppet. Maybe it is also because I am now walking close to the pressure and force of the sound. It's good to be close to the drums and the musicians.

All this created a special, startling beauty - the beauty of happiness.

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