Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summertime: Tanabata, Rain, and the Shimizu Lantern Festival

So I've heard you can't really tell from the weather in Ohio, but here it is definitely summertime. It's hot a s hell, humidity is through the roof, and there's festivals! Yay festivals! I've been to three festivals in the past 3 weeks, and since I haven't done anything worth blogging about in a while, I figured I'd tell you about it!

So the first was a big deal over 4th of July weekend (What did I do on the 4th, you ask? Ate more Burger King than I've had in my life, shot off party poppers in the park while yelling We The People!, and played TV Tag, Red Light Green Light, and Marco Polo). It's called Tanabata, a festival centered around making wishes (and stories about gods meeting once a year, if you want to know). So we headed there on Sunday. And half the "fun" of going to festivals is wearing festival clothes! I say "fun" because I had a hilarious, hilarious time remembering how to put on my yukata (I wore it once at Obon, last August). And it's also hot and hard to walk in the shoes. Fun! But no seriously, I do enjoy wearing them. And I also enjoy festival food. Let's showcase some of my favorite festival food, shall we?

Jyaga Butter: Literally potato butter; it's a steamed potato in a bowl smothered in butter. Mm.

Karaage: I've mentioned this before, Japan's version of boneless fried chicken.

Choco Banana: It says chocolate banana and it looks like a banana dipped in different colored chocolate, but really it's a candy coating that doesn't really taste like much but I enjoy it anyway.

Frankfurter: The strangest hot dog on a stick you'll ever see. Inexplicably orange with a slightly savory-sort-of-kielbasa-but-not-really taste.

Kakigori: Japan's shaved ice, with more flavors than you could think of (I've seen tomato, but I don't know if I want to waste money to try it).

So at Tanabata we basically waded through people, eating our way along. Of course we made wishes: you write them on a slip of paper and hang them. Here's mine:

It's an inside joke that basically means to find a boyfriend, lol.

We went to my friend's house to escape the heat (and yukata) for a while, and then went back out that night for dinner. But we weren't putting on the yukata again, so we went to Seiyu (it is literally WalMart; they have WalMart bags and everything lol) and got another kind of less formal festival clothing: jinbei. It's definitely a pair of comfy, glorified pajamas. There's no pictures of mine yet, but it is black and pink and ridiculously floral, like all jinbei for women, but it's comfy and I'm wearing it to the festival next week. So, Tanabata.

The next week was another little festival near my house. I don't even know its name, but it was at the temple I call Baby Kiyomizu (an offshoot of Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto, I believe) and it had food stalls, so we were going. Unfortunately, there was also rain, so no festival clothes were worn. But lots of food was eaten, and the rain was light enough they still set off fireworks. (There are also lots of festivals with fireworks in summer). So we got wet trying to see fireworks under our umbrellas (because they shoot them off kinda slow and paced), so that was fun.

And this past Wednesday we visited the Shimizu Lantern Festival, where they float lanterns down the river to remember deceased loved ones (I did not buy one; I think my deceased loved ones would have wanted me to save the money). I also wore yukata this time, and I was very proud how quickly I put it on. Let me show you how proud I am:


The festival was kinda spread out, but we eventually found the food. And the fireworks. Except these fireworks were traditional fireworks, where a guy literally held an uzi-looking thing that was very dangerously shooting sparks into the air, and then the sparks got brighter and the thing went BOOM! and it's terrifying and pretty cool to watch. 

So lots of festivals are on the way! The list includes more fireworks, dancing in the streets for 4 hours (this is happening), and another Obon. :D

Also, in terms of pictures, they are on Facebook, and if anyone is actually looking at the ones I put up on the albums on here let me know and I will load them up.