Saint Patrick’s day in Tokyo

Yesterday was Saint Patrick’s day, and I am sure there were many parades in many cities around the world. But in Tokyo the parade was today, because we were all too busy yesterday.

I heard about the parade on Friday when I met Bob, another Northern Irishman in my office. He said he would be in the parade, so I decided to join him. I had never been in a Saint Patrick’s day parade before, and may never be again.

When I arrived it was just like any other Saint Patrick’s parade in a large city: a massive crowd of green-clad people who had never been to Ireland. I did not have any suitable green atire, so I was wearing my blue Irish Free Software Organisation T-shirt. I didn’t really fit with the theme, unless you could see the logo on the T-shirt. But I went in anyway.

Inside the assembly ground the official parade looked much stranger than I did. Guinness, Baileys, and a couple of Irish pubs provided the alcohol connection; a couple of leprechauns and some ladies with large shamrocks tied to their heads provided the bizarre green connection. But nobody else seemed to fit. There were marching bands, but not the kind we have in Belfast: no sashes and bowler hats; I’ll check back in July.

Just as I was thinking that it was nothing like Ireland, a gang of men in paramilitary outfits walked in. That was more like it! They turned out to be a band from some part of the US military, so they still had the “freedom fighter or terrorist” ambiguity.

I found Bob and we joined the parade as part of a group representing an Irish pub. I don’t go to pubs often, but this one was near my house so I had some connection. We walked up and down the road while lots of onlookers waved and cheered. It was a bit surreal.

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