Matsuri!

8 Aug

ImageFriday evening began Kiryu’s annual local festival or matsuri.  Sort of like fairs in the United States, most matsuri have expected commonalities: paper lanters and decorations, stalls selling food and offering cute games for kids lining the streets.  It’s the one time you can walk down the street and eat in Japan without being stared at and considered crude; vendors selling kara-age or Japanese friend chicken, yakisoba or fried buckwheat noodles, and tako or octopus in many incarnations, including on a stick and inside fried dough balls called takoyaki are common, and for desert, kakigori or Japanese shaved ice is a staple of most matsuri.  Kiryu’s local speciality is yakimanju or fried manju buns, so stalls offering this local treat were plentiful, also.  In case you didn’t notice the theme here, like at United States carnivals, most of the food is fried.

ImageThis was my first time actually attending a matsuri, and I was quite excited The streets were packed with people, which was a complete change from the days prior, and amazing decorations were hanging from the buildings.  The streets were practically unrecognizable– we went with two current ALTs and one of the returning ALTs who’s heading home in the near future, and as they would point out locations, I was completely unaware because everything was so decked out for the festival.  At every large intersection, there were also large structures with people singing, and a large crowd of dancers surrounded these podiums.  While I’m not sure exactly what the procedure was, there were some practiced dancers all dressed the same, but anyone we welcome to join in and dance, and while I didn’t (didn’t even know how), some of the current ALTs did dance some.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they didn’t want photos of this occasion.

ImageThe matsuri was a really excellent way to get out of my apartment early on in my time here; it helped me explore some of the streets close to my apartment (the matsuri was only a few blocks away from me!) and try new foods.  I’m sad that it’s basically the only one for the year (as far as I know) anywhere that I can get to with my bike, since it was a lot of fun!  I’d also like to go after having some teaching experience; the current ALTs all saw and chatted with their students on the street, and many of the kids were very excited to see their teachers and talk to them, some even in English.  It seems like a really rewarding part of the job, to be well liked by your students that way, and to be able to be friendly with them outside of a school setting.  Hopefully I’ll be able to be the kind of teacher who kids would like to approach and talk to on the street.  Ganbarimasu!

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