Gaijin Meet Japan – Tanabata!
Hello iromegane readers. Here is the 5th episode of Oleñka and Cédric. A couple is now back to Japan again and it´s summer. What do Japanese people do? Festivals!! Let´s see how the couple experienced Japanese summer festivals.
Gaijin meet Japan
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Pictures by Cédric Hernandez
It was early July when we arrived after finishing our Asian journey and Tokyo was very different from what we knew from the beginning of the year. The streets were full of people with parasols, stalls of fairs and different festivals carried out in different areas in Tokyo.
As we had already spent for our first visit, we decided to stay this time in Tokyo to enjoy being a company of Okimori family and also to enjoy frantic schedule that they had organised for us to be able to experience traditional activities with dance festivals (盆踊り/ Bon-odori).
We arrived there the day of Tanabata (七夕) festival. So as soon as we arrived, we set out on a way to Asakusa where there were stalls of food and drink, dance, entertainment of the festival and the Summer Christmas Trees (bamboo trees) where we could hang our wishes. After enjoying cool beer and yakitori while we walked, we went to see the plants market where was full of colourful flowers, bonsai trees and different types of small trees. Then with a sudden summer storm, we all had to run to the underground and like this, the day ended.
I loved how men and women dressed for the event. Then Yuriko and Miyuki showed me all Yukata they have and explained us that that was what people should wear in summer. It didn´t take so long until they wanted to dress me in it, so again, we both found ourselves super happily in Nippon culture.
We had two different festivals we wanted to see in our planning. One was in Kasukabe (yes, yes, where Shin-chan lives 😉 and one in Saitama, the festival that could be a farewell to us in Tokyo.
Without giving me a chance to say no, Yuriko Okimori took me to a shopping; she thought I should have my own yukata with geta and other accessories to dress up for the festivals. Even I could, it´d be just so difficult to explain to you the feeling of being a huge shopping mall with Yuriko who didn´t speak a word of English. Her effort was beautiful and it was an amazing experience. After four hours in the big shopping mall in Shin Koshigaya, Yuriko and I found a really beautiful yukara for me. Now, we only needed to be ready for a festival.
The festival in Kasukabe started the day before at noon, many different schools of drum were playing in the street, the massive parade and heavy altars (御神輿/omikosi ) were carried by different groups with shouts to motivate them.
Looking at them all sweating and carrying those very heavy structures singing and laughing was another precious experience that we had for the first time. We again ate at the stall in the festival and we drunk until we had no thirst anymore. Another summer day ended in Tokyo and Cédric and I were happy.
According to our planning, we were going to the festival in Saitama before we left. It was right in the same neighbourhood where we had stayed in Tokyo, and the thing is, it was an unforgettable way of closing our journey. We were the only tourists in entire festival and the people were so good to us. We played to catch balloons, met locals who tried to talk with us although we didn´t understand, ate and drank excessively and I joined the parade with Miyuki in the beautiful joined the parade with Miyuki in the beautiful yukata that Okimori family lent it to me.
Now I only needed to learn how to dance in the circle and even at the beginning it was difficult for me to follow the step and the rhythm, I had a help from all the people who were willing to teach me.
On the way to home, the music from the festival was getting far away, drops of tears came out of our eyes: we had had a lot of luck to live in Tokyo in a very special way, so different, so unique include not understanding the language, we felt home, a home where we didn´t want to leave and still makes us want to go back.
Are you interested in following more of our adventure? Here is our blog : http://borntobearoundtheworld.wordpress.com/
Tips for Gaijin girls!
– There are many shops in the touristic areas where sell yukata and kimono with an exorbitant price. If you really look for a quality, just go away from the touristic areas and check places of artisans. But you need to know that they are expensive. For a quality that is quite acceptable, you can actually find some yukata and kimono in certain supermarkets such as Neon, Daiei, Itoyokado. The Okimori girls assured me, so…
More Japanese festivals