Thursday, September 18, 2008

Let the festivities begin!

The shrill trilling of flutes, the constant pounding of drums and chanting in Japanese.

These are the sounds I've heard coming from right outside my window every single evening from about 6 to 8 for the last two weeks. All of the hours of outdoor band practice--why it has to be outside is still a mystery to me--have led up to this weekend. (Thank goodness, I can soon have peaceful evenings again!)

The time for Kuji's biggest festival of the year has arrived. It's the time to pray for a bountiful harvest. And it's also the time for: parades with giant, spectacular floats; the streets lines with streamers, flags and food vendors; performing dancers and musicians; and a lot of fun for me, who lives right in the center of the action!

Bring it on.

The festival began last night with the opening ceremony. I've discovered that opening ceremonies are commonplace in Japan. The schools have opening ceremonies, both speech contests I attended had an opening ceremony, as did the baseball tournament on Monday.

So it came as no surprise to me that a festival this important and magnificant would have an opening ceremony of an equal magnitude. However, it did suprise me that the location of the ceremony was literally my backyard--the parking lot behind my apartment!

I attended the festival's kick-off last night, dressed in my outfit for the occasion, which I obtained from City Hall. All of the City Hall employees involved in the festival wore purple.

Now I know what it feels like to have feet like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

The opening ceremony featured a display of all the impressive floats, with the contrast of the bright neon lights against the black sky. (The picture below really doesn't do it justice.) Aromas of the festival food mingled in the air, as did the sounds of chanting and musical instruments, of course.(Those are some of my students in the pictures at the top.)

I wrote a few weeks ago about trying takoyaki -- fried balls of octopus. This is the "real thing," a popular festival food.

It's going on 1:30 Saturday morning as I write this, and I'm just now getting sleepy because of the energy in the atmosphere! Ever since I got off work, I've enjoyed the parade and the "party" that is going on outside my front door.

The festival is definitely appealing to the senses -- the sights, the smells and I guess the continual sounds of the flutes and drums, since they add to the ambience, are fine after all.


Anonymous said...

The festival looks like lots of fun! That is so cool that is was taking place right in your backyard! Thanks for keeping us updated about your experiences. It is the highly of my day to read your blogs!!!
Love ya!

Dawn said...

Looks like you enjoyed the festival and I bet you will welcome some peaceful evenings. I bet your feet didn't like those shoes - LOL - mine would have killed me.

NickiYahne said...

It looks like you are having a great time. I am so jealous that I do not have the courage to go and teach kids in another country! I really enjoy reading your blogs! Enjoy the rest of your time, I am sure it will fly by.

Anonymous said...

I love your Teenage Nija Turtle feet!! They look soo cool!! ha ha! Miss you!! Love you!!