Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kiryu Yagibushi Festival 2012

Time to talk about Kiryu's Yagibushi Festival!  I had a brief post about last year's festival, with pictures, but I decided to go balls-to-the-wall with this one and take as many pictures (and videos) as I could to try and really bring the festival to my readers!

So the Yagibushi Festival happens once a year in Gunma Prefecture's Kiryu City.  It always happens in August, when it's hot and gross and most people are miserable (Japanese summers are disgusting).  I think the festival's supposed to cheer us up.  It's a lot of fun, with food and dancing and fashion.  This is my second time going to the Yagibushi Festival but, unlike last year's festival, I managed to drag Peachy and MelJay out of their distant homes and all the way out to bum-fuck-nowhere-Gunma.  I lured them over with the promise of tons of food and Kiryu residents dancing drunkenly in the streets.  And access to all my popcorn.  In the end, they were glad they came, cuz the Yagibushi Festival is awesome.

Several days before the festival even started, I traveled to Kiryu for a staff party, and saw - to my delight- that the festival decorations were already being put up:

When Friday night arrived, Peachy and MelJay finally managed to make it to my quaint little town near Kiryu.  Their arrival was heralded by a creepy full moon, which seemed appropriate:

We went to the local grocery store to pick up ridiculous amounts of food for our three-and-a-half-day camp-out in my apartment.  We bought chicken and broccoli, and I made us all a lemon-pepper stir fry.  I'm not much of a cook, but sometimes I can pull off a decent meal:

There was also a fellow English teacher in my area who decided to go home instead of re-contracting for another year in Kiryu.  I received some of the food she never got around to, including a bag of strawberry granola.  Granola's uncommon in Japan and is usually replaced by boring cornflakes when you order dessert at a restaurant.  So MelJay and Peachy and I also bought peaches, blueberries, and vanilla yogurt (rare in Japan) in order to make Western-style parfaits (even rarer in Japan).  I think they came out amazing:

Then we spent the night watching The Dark Knight and eating too much popcorn (I make it with kernels, not that microwave stuff).  We saw The Dark Knight Rises in theaters the previous weekend, and of course it was amazing, so we wanted to be nostalgic and go back and watch the previous one.  But eeeeeeew, Two-Face, eeeeeeeeeeeeew.  Good thing I was drunk.

Anyways, Saturday afternoon, we finally woke up and started getting ready for the festival.  The Yagibushi Festival is one of the few times the people of Kiryu can dress up and do whatever the hell they want.  Almost everyone wears a yukata (a Japanese summer kimono), and those who don't will often just wear stupid shit for the hell of it (like Hello Kitty pajamas).  MelJay and I had (weird) yukata prepared, and Peachy was just gonna go gawth.  We spent many hours preparing, but the results were totally worth it.

Here's Peachy making a stupid pose: 

Whaddya think of my pimped out living room?

And here's MelJay in her hilarious zebra-print yukata, standing on my hilarious zebra-print futon:

I've taken to calling my living room "The Party Room."

And their combined stupidity:

Oh crap, here's me.  Yeah, leave it to me to find a red yukata with black roses.  Most Japanese people probably don't even think such a thing exists, but it does.  It most definitely does.  And it makes me look eeeeeeeevil:

For some reason, jazz-hands:

I love this next picture.  We decided to do a sarcastic JRock photoshoot pose.  I think it turned out perfect, lol.  And yes, that's my D fan.  Isn't it a perfect match?!

"My deeeeeeear rose, oh you are aaaaaall of meeeeeee."

And now the festival!!!  When we arrived, the sun hadn't completely set yet, so it wasn't as crowded as it was gonna be, but there were already plenty of people out buying festival food and admiring the decorations:

For some reason, there was a man standing in the street with a trained monkey, demonstrating tricks for a crowd of observers (I think one of the signs said he was a trainer from a zoo in Tokyo).  I didn't stay too long (cuz then I'd be obligated to throw money in the bucket), but I managed to snag a few pictures:

The trainer seems more fascinated by the basketball than the monkey...........
Throughout the festival,  there were these large constructions adorned with lanterns.  Standing on the balconies are musicians playing the Yagibushi song.  I have some videos later where you can hear it:

A lot of people were gathering around the big lantern-things.  But it was still a little early for people to seriously start dancing:

The musicians:

In some areas, people were already leading/participating in the Yagibushi dance, so I took a video.  It's a small group, and these people weren't drunk yet, so they're doing the dance right.  But here's what the dance looks like when done correctly (and sorry, the lighting kinda comes and goes):

Some little girls from a dance class were performing a more complicated version of the Yagibushi.  They didn't really know the moves at all, so it was kinda hilarious:

I should add that I was bombarded by my students all night (and the following night too).  Every half hour or so, I'd hear the voices of children squealing my name, only to see look up and see my monsters rushing towards me, waving their hands in the air.  Most of them were strangely not surprised to see my extreme appearance and insisted I looked "cute."  Unfortunately, some of my worst female students from my worst class showed up and started yelling "sexy!" at me, and asked for my picture.  I grudgingly allowed it.  Let's just hope they don't tell my coworkers I went around looking like something from a B-level horror film.  Either way, I'm sure everyone in the school under the age of sixteen knew about my "look" within twenty-four hours.  My friends and I also had random people stop and ask for our picture a few times, which was kinda funny.  These two really goth chicks stopped and asked us in really crass, casual speech (literally "shasshin torou ka?), which made me laugh.  Darkness seeks darkness, I guess.

And theeeeeen the food started happening.  Here's MelJay with a, um...... spiral weiner:

I bought grilled scallops, spiced with pepper.  Sooooo delicious, and they were grilled right there:

Peachy bought a twister fry, which is basically a potato sliced into a spiral and deep-fried.  Why the fuck is all the food shaped like a spiral?!

Peachy also bought some fried chicken, and did a dramatic JRock pose with it.  Ten bucks to the first band to do a serious photoshoot with fried chicken in their mouths:

It started to get a lot more crowded as the sun went down:

There were some weird stands, like this one selling plastic masks.  All night, I kept seeing people walking around with these creepy masks strapped to the sides of their heads.  I find the Thomas the Tank Engine ones to be the most disturbing:

Meanwhile, in Japan........

There was also a do-it-yourself kakigouri stand.  Kakigouri means "shaved ice" in Japanese  Peachy decided to do it, and made a peach and cola mix:

I made a peach and lemon one later in the day.

Then Peachy and I bought giant cucumbers.  Sexy:

"Too much teeth!" screams every man reading this post.
People were finally starting to dance around the big lantern things.  Some people were already getting pretty drunk about it:

These guys (and girls) were like dance circle "leaders" who stood on boxes in the center of the circles trying to rile up the crowds:

You may think it's strange that someone in this next picture is throwing the horns, but these dance circles started to take on a "concert"-like feel, with people jumping up and down like crazy and cheering instead of dancing correctly:

Moving on to more food...... there was a Persian kebab stand run by a Persian family, so I went and got myself one of their spicy ones:

MelJay bought a pink..... chocolate-covered............... banana..............................

The food at this festival appears to have a theme.

Some musicians performing down another street:

They were performing on this big, fancy thingie:

Then this other big, fancy thingie started coming down the road:

It was pulled strictly by man (and child)-power alone:

Then the two thingies met on the street.  My friends and I kept saying, "oh, battle!  Battle!"

If only they had cannons..... :-(

As 10:00 (and the end of Saturday night's festival) approached, everyone gathered around the main lantern-thingie to finish up the Yagibushi dance for the night.  Except it was more like jumping up and down and drunkenly cheering.  Everyone even called for encore to get a few more rounds of the song, just like a concert: 

Here's some video of Saturday night's giant dance circle.  If this looks crazy and fun to you, trust me, it is.  I just took this video from the sidelines, though:


But I took this video from inside the circle.  After doing a few rounds of the dance, I just had to get some footage of it from right inside the action.  Lol, my friends are stupid:

After Saturday night's festivities were over, we stopped in the Mega Don Quijote to take advantage of the air conditioning before taking the train (which wouldn't arrive for another half an hour).  I got a watermelon popscicle.  The seeds are chocolate chips!

And my yukata's open just enough to tell the whole world I'm a slut, apparently.  Oops.  I tied it better the second night.

On the train back home, there was a group of teenagers riding the train with their bikes.  Bikes are allowed on this particular train line, but what made me laugh was the boy on the right, sitting 100% on his bike on a moving train like it ain't no thang:

If you're wondering how I snuck this picture without the boys noticing, well... I pretended I was taking a picture of MelJay beside me, lol.

That night, when my friends and I got back to my apartment, we stripped off all the fancy clothing and make-up, made some more popcorn, then watched Iron Man.  Are you noticing a trend...?  Also, more alcohol.

The next morning, we woke up and got ready for the Yagibushi Festival's final day (it goes from Friday night through Sunday night, but we only went Saturday and Sunday).  We had to go through all the effort to make ourselves up again, but I think it was worth it:


What...... is this pose.......?


A failed attempt at a heart-hand chain:

 Back in our yukata:

I felt like such a pimp using that fan at the festival.  Or like a demon-possessed courtesan.

Fierce white tiger and leopard:

Just me being classy and drinking alcohol outside a convenience store in my yukata while a group of teenage thugs sit on the curb watching from behind.  Stayin' classy, y'all:

And now back to the festival!

Within minutes of arriving at the festival, we encountered this.  A large group of people came barging down the street with a huge, movable shrine on their shoulders.  Barreling people over with shrines is a proud Japanese tradition:

They look so happy about being crushed under a giant log of wood.

Sunday night was even busier than Saturday:

Some of the decorations were really pretty!


Eventually, we ran into an English teacher who's a really good friend of mine.  Let's call her H.  H has slowly been corrupted by my evil this past year, so get ready to see her on the blog again.  Why?  Because she's coming with me to a PSC-hosted event show and a DEZERT one-man all in one weekend in September.  Aaaaaaaaw yeah.  H is all the way on the right in the blue yukata.

Wow... serious duck lips, Peachy.

We also found heart-shaped lollipops and decided to do stupid Sailor Moon princess poses with them.  Turned out more like magic wands, though:

Over near the park, there was a dance competition going on called Dance Dance Yagibushi.  I made it just in time to see several of my friends perform in one of the hip-hop routines.  Very sexy, you guys!  Glad I didn't miss it!

H managed to get her hands on some Turkish ice cream.  If you've never hand Turkish ice cream before, it's very thick and creamy, and it can stick to things because of it.  The vendors like to play tricks on people because of the ice cream's unusual properties.  The person in line ahead of H was being handed a cone when the Turkish vendor "accidentally" flipped the cone upside down.  The ice cream didn't fall out at all, to the customer's surprise and relief.  H got pranked too, but nonetheless, here she is enjoying her ice cream:

And now, back at the main lantern-thingie, the final half hour of the Yagibushi dance was going on.  It got super crowded and super drunk, meaning super awesome:

More videos!  I took this one from the sidelines during the last few rounds of the final dance.  As you can see, the crowd's even bigger than Saturday, and even more excited.  They're singing the song more than the singer!

And this last video is my special treat to you.  As everyone began to form a giant, jumping frenzy pit of happiness, I went into the middle of it all and took some (jumpy) footage.  Enjoy:

It got pretty crazy in that pit.  People were throwing beer and water everywhere, and some punky kids started moshing.  One boy kept throwing his girlfriend violently into the crowd (perhaps a little too harshly) and then slamming himself into people as well.  I think they may have had a few more chemicals in their system than just alcohol.  Everyone was so drunk, though, I don't think anyone even cared when they nearly got thrown off their feet.

When the dance was over, everyone jumped up and down calling for encore.  The musicians pretended to climb down out of the lantern-thingie, but they were just playing.  We got our encore, and another ten minutes of dancing ensued.  When it was over, most people were swaying around or cheering and jumping up and down despite the lack of music.  Damn guys, the party's over!  After the lantern-thingie was pushed away, a group of priest-type people came over to the spot where it had been, made a circle of lanterns on the street, and did some praying.  Um, yeah, I think purifying that area is a damn good idea.  Seriously.

That night, my friends and I returned to my apartment, exhausted but very pleased.  The festival was just way too much fun, and we were super happy.  Then we lazed around watching Thor (why break the super hero streak?) and enjoyed the pikachu-shaped castella cakes we bought:

Pikachu stares into your soul with his pancake-batter eyes.

The next day, we had quite a bit of time before my friends had to leave (and I took the day off of work), so we hung around Kiryu.  The city was already stripped and clean with almost no sign that a festival had ever occurred there.  Except for the piece of fried chicken we found sitting in a gutter.  Hehe, eeeeeeeew.

Speaking of fried chicken, we had lunch at Kiryu City's KFC, and they had light fixtures made out of KFC buckets.  How weird is that?

 Then we spent the day in the Mega Don Quijote (or just Mega Donki, for short).  Those of you who have traveled to big cities like Tokyo have probably been to one of the Donkis, and there are small cities that have them too.  The one in Kiryu is more like a mall than a regular Donki (which is why it's called Mega Donki).  There's a small food court with ice cream and crepes, a massive grocery store in the basement, and several floors of wall-to-wall stuff, so large that you can spend a whole day among it (which we did).  We admired leopard print pillows, purchased lacy socks, pawed through silly action figures and stuffed animals, abused the massage chairs for about ten minutes, and ate delicious, fruity crepes.  They were also selling little axolotls.  Aren't they cute?!

Overall, it was a perfect weekend, and I wouldn't change a thing.  And I can't wait to do it all again next year!!!  Food, fashion, friends, shopping... all the best things in life.  Plus I made it into a three-day weekend!

Speaking of three-day weekends... I took off this coming Monday too.  Why?  Cuz Sunday is the BORN one-man at Shibuya O-EAST!  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw yeeeeeeeeeeeah.  Look forward to it!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the post!  All the pictures and videos must've been a nice break from my usual endless rambling.  But I'll be back with more useless rambling after the BORN show!  GET READY FOR DA BLACK MUZIC, BITCHES.


  1. sounds like a fun weekend!

    1. It was great! Hope you enjoyed the pictures ^__^

  2. Pictures AND videos! Hells-to-the-yeah! >:o

    The three of you were all dressed to impress, I see. Loved your styles but I had no idea a freaking yukata could look so unique and cool. Wtf, honestly… O_O I seriously have to get my hands on one like that in the future.

    Really sounded as fun as it looked. Obscenely shaped food, spiraled wieners and crazy happy, drunk dancing; can’t get any better than that. Glad you guys had an awesome time and thanks for sharing this fantastic event with us. :’D Would you mind if I linked this on my facebook? I have a small amount of friends and not many are Japan crazy so it’s not like the entire world is gonna see this but I think a few people there would really enjoy reading about the festival. But of course, only if you don’t mind. ^^

    Ohoo, did I read DEZERT and BORN one-man? I think you aim to kill us with excitement, yes? The days just won’t go by fast enough for me to read about that when the time comes, my head will explode confetti with the wait. -Be patient, be patient-

    Oh, and the stand selling those masks… that’s how serial killers are born.

    1. Yeah, I never really thought about getting a cool yukata until I saw really crazy ones at O1O1 One and realized such a thing existed. But those were all ridiculously expensive. If you want to find cheap but cool yukata, I highly recommend Amazing website. I got my yukata for under 10,000 yen (less than 100 U.S. dollars) and it came with the obi (the belt) and a rope for the obi, and Japanese sandals (geta), and a fan. I didn't use all the parts they sent, but it was still an amazing deal. I've also bought crazy shoes from Rakuten!

      And you can most certainly link my blog on your Facebook! No problem at all! Gotta spread the Kiryu Festival love ^___^

      Also, yes, you're correct, you did read that I'm going to a DEZERT one-man and a BORN one-man. Wanna get even more excited? That PSC-hosted event I mentioned is the same weekend as the DEZERT one-man? BORN's hosting that show. It's actually a two-man, with BORN hosting and MEJIBRAY going first. And there's an opening band with some silly name that will probably suck. So that means I have TWO big BORN shows coming up! It's gonna be sweeeeeeeet.

    2. Thanks for the website! They actually had one with skeletons on it!*A* A little on the flashy side for my taste but still very different and intriguing. A pity it was sold out though.

      …I think I need a moment to digest this. Shit, two BORN shows? That’s a lot of black music, lmao. And even some MEJIBRAY too? Is I in heavens? I think I is. xD You’ve just made my day, my week, and possibly my month.

      And thanks for letting me post this on my Facebook. :3

    3. No problem ^__^

      And I agree, some of the yukata are quite flashy on Rakuten. But I bet they'll restock the good stuff once the summer holidays are over! Or start selling nice winter kimonos :-)

      And yus, two BORN shows ^__^ Unfortunately, the BORN/MEJIBRAY show and the DEZERT one-man aren't until about mid-September, so a month to go, but the BORN one-man is in a couple days, squeee! I just hope my n00b friend survives the shows in September, lol. She's never done this before XD

    4. Oh man, I think once your friend tastes the awesome there is no turning back; I imagine it’s an experience impossible to revert back from once you dive in. She has time to mentally prepare though, lol and I hope it proves to be an amazing, unforgettable show for her. Enjoy the BORN show! (as if I even have to say that, hah).

    5. Hehehe, I've already gotten my friend into BORN, now we just gotta go all the way XD Btw, the BORN show on Sunday was awesome! I'll have the report up ASAP.

  3. Japanese tribal dances all the way :D .

    1. Lol, mo' like drunken stumbling XD

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  5. You guys look so preeettttttty :D
    and I love your living room, it's so colourful and stripey

    1. Aaaaaw, thank you ^__^ I wanted my bedroom to be a "fun" place to return to after work, lol.

    2. "Bedroom" as in, I also sleep in there in the summer, lol (but not in the winter).

  6. I like your yukata! That sounds like such a fun weekend:) I really wanted to go to the yosakoi festival in Kochi, but its happening while I'm back home.

    1. Thanks! It was really cheap too, because Rakuten's awesome ^__^ And that's too bad about the Yosakoi Festival. Will you be able to go next year?