I haven’t written as much lately as I should have, so here are some things that happened in August.
The most important Kasaoka event in August was the Yotchare festival. Summer in Japan is when most of the festivities happen, and students get August off of school. Kasaoka has a parade where everyone dances the Yotchare, or their choreographed version of it. A thousand people gathered on main street, and 30-40 groups danced down the street. A camera crew from the local Kasaoka TV station was there.
Erika and I had originally planned on participating with KIEA (the international organization in town), but we didn’t make it to the practices. We drove downtown with Misao’s family and walked along the street watching the performances. Misao took us to the back of the parade where the groups start, and suddenly we were pushed out with the rest of the members from KIEA and had to figure out the dance, while of course being recorded and broadcasted live. Misao was nice enough to lend Erika a kimono for the event, but I was especially embarassed because I was wearing a junkie t-shirt, cargo shorts, and my sandals with holes in them (as if being tall and blonde don’t make me stand out enough!). Most of the rest of the group were wearing either a nice kimono or nice traditional dress from their country (looked mostly like India or Thailand?). We did manage to figure out the dance, though, and the KIEA group won the 一生懸命で賞, or the “you did it with all your might” prize!
There are some other cool pictures online. This one from facebook shows some people dressed as Ebisu, the god of commerce, and some in Kabuni suits (the local mascot is Kabuni, a cartoon horseshoe crab).
Weeks later, some people who meet me for the first time still say “oh yeah, you were in the parade!”
“Yotchare”, by the way, means “welcome” in the local dialect.
Later in the month was the annual fireworks festival, done in every city across Japan around the same time. This event is also attended by many wearing kimono and geta. They actually distributed a complete program for the show, describing the size of every firework that was to be ignited every minute of the show, and who paid for it. I had to make a quick trip back to the apartment because I forgot my earplugs!
Bentley took me on a long bike ride to Asakuchi. It has a nice beach and an interesting formation of three islands:
The view from Yorishima park is also amazing, if you can get there:
Erika and I went back to eat at the cafe and take pictures later:
We celebrated Misao’s birthday at her daughter, Sayo’s, house:
That was particularly fun because we had somen in one of these enclosed river things (picture on Amazon). Traditionally the noodles are sent down a long bamboo pipe and whoever wants some plucks it out. This thing uses a pump to send the noodles around in circles until someone wants some. Neat! You get a thousand points if you can manage to grab a cherry tomato from the stream using chopsticks.
We went to eat Indian food in Fukuyama, and on the way found a super nice library. They have this neat water-themed architecture:
The other side of the building has a waterfall staircase parallel with the regular staircase, but I couldn’t get a good picture.
Also, a random picture from Fukuyama for my fire-fighting uncle:
The decorations on the manholes/fire hydrants are different in every town and lots of them are painted like this one. Just one of the many ways Japanese people give their towns character.
Lastly, we got a new bookshelf for our apartment! We love it. Hopefully, carrying it home in the rain will be the most dangerous thing I ever do in Japan!