Summer Festivals

This has been the week of Summer festivals.  This is fitting since it led up to SMS’ birthday, the best day of all!  (Ha, ha, this is a lie.  It is the co-best day of all because my birthday should be included.  This is a biased opinion, I know.  It’s ok if you think your birthday is the most important day!  Birthdays are the best!).

Lucky sushi.  The picture of us eating it is too rude for the internet.

Tuesday night, we watched a pretty funny cultural commentary video.  Part of it included eating a huge lucky sushi roll on an auspicious day facing an auspicious direction, which is labelled in kanji on the front of the package.  As luck would have it, the very next day (8/6) was a lucky day and SMS bought us lucky sushi to eat!  These sushi, btw, are bought at the local combine, or convenience store.  In this case, 7-11.  One is supposed to eat the sushi in one bite and I think I technically succeeded but it is pretty impossible.

Example of one of the big lanterns and a geisha dancing

On Thursday, we went with two friends to the Kamakura lantern festival.  The Bonbori Matsuri is a festival at the Tsurugaoka shrine where many Bonbori paper lanterns are displayed along the main street leading up to the shrine and on the shrine grounds itself.  The shrine grounds lanterns were the most impressive, with very beautiful artwork in multiple styles- Western Impressionist copies, Japanese wood print-style, anime, etc.  We passed a food stand that smelled of delicious fried meat.  We were starving so we ate. After we were a little less starved, we paused and thought of what we just ate.  Um, the results are not good.  Oh, well.  I’m fairly certain no permanent damage was done.

CW from top left: Lovely ladies in yukata, SMS and I at the festival, me, yagura stage

On Friday, SMS had been invited to the SRF Bon Odori Festival.  It was pretty cool.  There were food stands, games for the kids and in the center of the square, a yagura stage where people were dancing (the actual bon odori).  It’s pretty cool to see the Japanese equivalent of a line dance, except it’s actually a dance in a circle (so, um, not a line dance at all).  People circle up and with coordinated hand/arm movements, move clockwise, counter-clockwise and in towards the central yagura.  People are also dancing on the yagura itself.

Yukata photo shoot in our apartment tatami room

SMS and I had better luck with food here.  We had Japanese noodles, tofu with lots of toppings, grilled squid and shave ice.  The coolest part for me was the Yukata party beforehand.  Mark’s friend Misai-san has a collection of yukatas and she enjoys dressing up other women in them, Japanese and American.  There was a yukata dressing party that lasted for about an hour.  The folds and arrangements that are necessary for transforming what could essentially be a shapeless bathrobe into a beautiful yukata was pretty cool.  The obi tying is also intricate, like origami with a beautiful long sash.  Unfortunately, SMS wasn’t allowed in so he went to the festival by himself for a bit where he ran into some other friends.

Also…Friday was SMS’ birthday!  Subarashi, desu ne!?!?  The celebration is spanning today and yesterday but we did celebrate his birthday on the actual day, which is always important.  When we got home, we had a mini-cake with candles and birthday present time.  SMS opened cards from me and his family and opened up his presents which included socks (I am so awesome!) and a new camera lens (which was really the awesome present).  SMS was really happy with his birthday and today, we’re having a slightly larger party on the beach with a BBQ picnic.  I’m pretty excited and we’re celebrating with a few local friends, although several happen to be out-of-town this weekend.

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