• Curated day: Thursday “Welcome Back”


    First things first. After enjoying a beery bus ride or an express taxi, get your wristband right away. The line will be shorter. You don’t want to be like a few pals of mine who put it off for another day only to get stuck in hour plus lines the next day. And don’t pull your wristband too tight as three days of drinking and lead to some swelling in your extremities, especially your beer drinking hand. For campers, the site opens at noon, so pick a spot with some shade rather than settling for steep slope. After you’ve dropped your load, grab your wallet and a rain coat and head to the festival gates which officially open at 6pm. That’s when the vendors start selling inside the festival as well so no need to get there too early.

    Welcome Back
    The Bon Odori dance is well documented and is probably the first public event that takes place on Thursday night, just as the sun is beginning to dip below the kebab tents. The music is a mix of blaring Nakashi music and taiko drums performed by Naeba native, Fujio Moroto. There’s a little dancing to this easy beat and it’s slow enough so that foreigners can easily join in. Mr. Moroto has been keeping the beat steady for the past 15 years and he’s a good example of how the festival has ingratiated itself into the community. If you didn’t know it, this Thursday pre-party is free to the general public and is when the good village folk of Naeba and a few local politicians walk the grounds.

    The event, or at least the Bon Odori has roots in traditional culture, held sometime in the late summer and is a sort of homecoming for Japanese ghosts who by the way, tend to appear without feet, differing from other traditional western ghouls and zombies who crawl or stumble around. Much of the artwork associated with the Bon Odori tower in the middle of Oasis is attributed to Finnish artist, Mr. Wim. He’s also responsible for other art installations such as the reflective stickers you see everywhere.

    After you’ve had a walk around the eateries, delish fish and chips made by a real Brit, Jane, or endless bowls of soba and beer, there’s an 8pm firework display set off somewhere near the green stage—that’s probably why it’s roped off and they absolutely don’t want anyone stumbling through there. The best viewing location is deep in the Oasis. Best to stand back a bit to ooh and ahh at the fireworks which just barely clear the tree line.

    Musical Welcome
    And then it’s straight onto the music. Judging from past festivals it’s gonna look something like this
    8PM Resident DJ
    8:25 Totally killer band (look to Crystal Palace on Friday for clues)
    8:50PM Resident DJ . Short speech and group selfie
    9:20 World music type band
    10PM Acrobat or Musicians (look to Palace of Wonder for clues)
    10:15 Resident DJ
    10:45 Japanese band –totally unable to predict
    11:10 Resident DJ

    Going home early

    So now you’ve seen the festival and have caught up with old friends it is now time to get back in the sack and prepare yourself for three days of fun. At least that’s what I try to do every year. You may find me in the parking lot coiffing JD cokes and gassing till the sun comes up but I hope that’s not me again this year.