Yup, went to a festival on a weekday when I definitely didn't have time, lol. Satoshi saw on the news that the Ichinotori festival was nearby in Nerima (I guess this is a rare occurrence) and my host mother was trying to encourage me to go. And I was like "yeah but... I have a kanji quiz tomorrow... and I'm way behind on all my readings..." And she was like "it'll only take thirty minutes! Maybe an hour!" I refused and walked away, then felt guilty and agreed to it a few minutes later, lol. I paid for it dearly by having to get up an hour earlier to keep studying this morning, though, lol. Blah, I wish there were more hours in the day... but anyways!
So I guess the Ichinotori festival is some Shinto thing that involves trying to will the gods to give you good luck in the upcoming year. But I think it's actually just an excuse for Japanese people to eat a lot of food, lol. Here's the crowded roadways near Nerima station as people crammed into the festival areas and bargained over outdoor-cooked food.
These shiny things they're selling here are these big, crazy-looking artsy things stuck on sticks of bamboo. I guess you shake these on your house and it's supposed to bring good luck for the new year. It was kinda funny watching people walk around with these cuz you'd see a sea of heads and then these big, shamanistic sticks bobbing up and down in the crowd, lol.
I tried to get a better picture of the stick-things. Damn was it shiny in there, lol. I didn't even have my flash turned on!
Umm... pretty lanterns?
More pretty lanterns? God, I'm such a sorry excuse for someone with an East Asian Studies major with a focus on religious studies, lol. It's like, "oh, you have a BA focus in religious studies? Tell me something about Shintoism." Me: "Oh, okay, um... they have those funny zig-zaggy paper-things..." Yeah, I suck, lol.
Hey, whaddya know! MORE LANTERNS!!! Sorry, I'm dripping with sarcasm tonight for some reason, lol. The whole thing was actually very pretty looking.
This was the big Shinto shrine that everyone was trying to get to. You had to wait in line, and once you got up there, you had to throw in a coin, clap your hands twice, bow, and think up a prayer. I went through the motions and stuff but... not a single prayer would come to mind. Perhaps a wasted opportunity but... I just couldn't think of a damn thing other than "I'd like to lose weight" or "I wish it was Spring Break already" lol. Damn... I really shouldn't even admit to having a focus in East Asian religious studies, lol.
Amongst the miles upon miles of food stands, there were also many of these fish games. Basically, these kids take these thin little nets and, if they can actually scoop up a goldfish and get it into the bowl before the net breaks in the water, you get to take the fish home. And the black fish were big with googly eyes, but they were so heavy I didn't see anyone manage to get one. Honestly, getting even one goldfish is friggin' hard. Some kids were pros, though, and were walking away with several. The kid in this picture somehow got three!
The following picture is some food I tried. Everything looked delicious but my host mother wouldn't let me get anything because we were going to have dinner right afterwards. Some of the food at this event would've absolutely terrified a Westerner. There were whole octopi being tossed around and grilled and there were people biting the heads off whole fish stuck on sticks. But there was plenty of food that would satisfy a less-daring foreigner, such as chocolate-covered bananas, grilled corn-on-the-cob, yakisoba, crepes, etc. But my host mother encouraged me to try this one thing because she figured it wasn't something I would've ever tried before. It was basically grilled rice molded onto a stick and dipped in a sweet barbecue-sauce (similar to dango, for anyone who's tried that). However... it's just not my thing. I really have this issue with the mixing of sweet and non-sweet flavors and it drives me crazy, so a food like this was the epitome of that sweet-non-sweet issue. It's because of that hang-up that I don't like barbecue sauce at all (or corn... or tomatoes... or peppers... or any kind of Chinese food involving fruit, like pineapple chicken). So yeah, this food was saucy with a hint of sweet, which totally grosses me out for some reason, lol. Sweet and non-sweet food should always be separated!!! But anyone who likes barbecue sauce would've found this food to be quite delicious!
Anyways... that's about all I have to say for the festival, actually. I was there for only a half hour or so before my kanji studies slung a noose around my neck and dragged me back to the house.
MY GOD, HE EATS!!! AND HE EATS A LOT!!! Now I feel bad for posting those tanka poems... maybe all the teasing has turned him into a pig, lol. Of course, some people on the internet had to joke that he probably just ate the salad but DAMN. He'd better have eaten every last chili cheese fry, lol! Maybe now he'll actually get fat, haha.
Random light note but: secluding yourself in your room for a week actually does work. I got an A on that fucking horrible kanji midterm! WHOO! HOLLA!!!
Anyways......... back to school-work!!! Wheeeee!!!