a neighborhood sale in Japan

a neighborhood sale in Japan

A snapshot from my life in Japan, captured on 99-cent only store Lucky Color Film from China several years expired and badly stored through extreme changes in temperature. From a test roll using a 35mm adapter in my Diana F+.

Will re-scan after I have time to inspect my scanner. Am getting strange purple spots which I don’t see on the scanner, or on the film. Also, color and quality of scans is completely different using same scanner (Canon CanoScan 8800F) but different programs, so I am going to have to do a few more experiments before posting the other shots from the roll.

This photo makes me miss my former life in Japan.

Bentenjima & Tsu Hanabi Taikai

Tsu Hanabi Taikai Fireworks Display 2012 津花火大会

Tsu Hanabi Taikai Fireworks Display 2012 津花火大会

The Lost Blogs #35

Festival Dates: Bentenjima Hanabi Taikai (July 7, 2012);
Tsu Hanabi Taikai (July 29, 2012)

Tsu Hanabi Taikai Fireworks Display 2012 津花火大会

One of my favorite pastimes in Japan was attending hanabi taikai, or fireworks festivals. These festivals are typically held in the hot and humid summertime, and they are a great way to just kick back and relax with a cold drink, some snacks and sweets, and the company of good friends.

Bentenjima Hanabi Fireworks Display

Bentenjima Hanabi Fireworks Display 2012

Bentenjima Hanabi Fireworks Display

Last summer, I was able to enjoy not one, but two, fireworks festivals held at local beaches. The first was in my own city of Hamamatsu, in a small town called Bentenjima. My friends and I actually gathered at the beach in the neighboring town of Arai where it was less crowded. Although we weren’t at the main site of the festival, there were still plenty of street vendors, and plenty of people. I actually ran into a few of my students, who were surprised to not only see me outside of school grounds, but wearing a bright pink jinbei (甚平).

Tsu Hanabi Taikai Fireworks Display 2012 津花火大会

Jinbei is a set of clothing traditionally worn by men consisting of a kimono-style top and matching shorts. They are usually worn around the house, like pajamas or casual house wear, but are also worn outside of the home when attending summer festivals. Men can choose to wear these in place of the traditional yukata (casual summer kimono). Lately, it’s become popular for women, teens, and children to wear jinbei to summer festivals. I actually own two sets of yukata and have worn both of them out to festivals, but I actually prefer to wear the jinbei because it is easier to put on, and is much more comfortable to wear…

Bentenjima Hanabi Fireworks Display

Above is a picture of me jumping around freely in my comfortable jinbei and Birkenstock sandals. Weeee! I would not have been able to do that in my yukata!!

Although the yukata is a “summer kimono” and doesn’t require the several layers of robes that a traditional kimono has, many sets still come with an “undergarment” robe or slip which can be worn underneath the yukata. Additionally, there is the koshi-himo or “waist cord” which is used to hold the yukata in place after putting it on properly and adjusting the length by folding it. And then after getting everything into place, you must also put on an “obi”, which is the decorative sash. Many modern yukata sets now come with simpler obi, which you just wrap around and either velcro, snap, or tie into place; and come with a clip-on pre-tied bow. I have one of these, but I also have a traditional obi which requires a lot of practice to tie it properly. It’s really just a lot of work, and without centralized air conditioning, I am usually sweating by the time I manage to get everything on… and since the sleeves and yukata are long in length, I can’t really manage to cool down. This is why I prefer wearing jinbei, because as you can see, the fabric is light and airy, and both the sleeves and bottoms are short. The only downside is that suddenly all your skin is exposed to the hungry mosquitos…

Bentenjima Hanabi Fireworks Display

Bentenjima Hanabi Fireworks Display

Bentenjima Hanabi Fireworks Display

It was so much fun to sit around with the friends I had made over the past two years in Hamamatsu and enjoy the fireworks on the beach with them. So, when we were visiting our friend in the tiny town of Tsu, I was ecstatic when she informed us that there would be a fireworks festival down at the beach in her town, too! Although, looking at the WalkerPlus website for finding hanabi, you would think that Tsu wasn’t so tiny after all.

bentenjimahanabi

In the screenshot above detailing the Bentenjima Hanabi Taikai, it says that there are approximately 2,600 fireworks released and that about 100,000 people are expected to attend based on the previous year’s data.

tsuhanabi

In comparison, the Tsu Hanabi Taikai has approximately 3,000 fireworks and an attendance of 150,000 people! I was really surprised. Though the size of the festivals are roughly the same, I could definitely tell the difference. The firework display in Tsu was so impressive! You could hear people in the crowd ooh-ing and ahh-ing and gasping in surprise and delight. There was plenty of food, but I was really shocked to see…

Tsu Hanabi Taikai Fireworks Display 2012 津花火大会 … REGULAR (by American standards) sized soda cups!! Those Coca Cola cups are gigantic compared to the ones you would normally get at fast food restaurants like McDonald’s.

So enough chit chat, I’ll leave you with some pictures I took of the amazing fireworks display. And if anyone living or visiting Japan this summer is interested in finding a fireworks festival, Surviving in Japan has written an awesome “How To” guide on navigating the Walkerplus website.

Tsu Hanabi Taikai Fireworks Display 2012 津花火大会

Tsu Hanabi Taikai Fireworks Display 2012 津花火大会

Tsu Hanabi Taikai Fireworks Display 2012 津花火大会

Tsu Hanabi Taikai Fireworks Display 2012 津花火大会

Tsu Hanabi Taikai Fireworks Display 2012 津花火大会

Wisteria Festival in Fujieda City

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)

So today, I traveled to Fujieda City (藤枝市) in Shizuoka for the Fuji Matsuri (藤松い), or Wisteria Festival. I have a lot of photos to share, so forgive me for this post being photo-heavy! Fujieda City, which literally means “city of wisteria branches” has been holding this festival for 29 years at Rengeji Park Pond (蓮花寺池公園). Today was the first day of the festival, and it will run through Golden Week until May 5th. It’s very easy to access from Fujieda Station. Just hop onto bus #2, which runs very 20 minutes, and get off at Rengeji-ike-koen-iriguchi (蓮花寺池公園入口).

The pond is not that big, so it only takes about 30 minutes to walk around. It’s a very clean park, with some family-friendly activities such as swan boats and playgrounds for children. During the festival, there are a number of booths set up selling snacks and souvenirs. There is also a rest house on-site which serves cheap ramen, udon, and soba dishes. All the dishes were under 500-yen.

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)
Tempura soba

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)
Zaru soba

We spent about two hours at the festival, taking our time to eat lunch and walk leisurely around the lake twice to enjoy the food and flowers. As you can see, the wisteria flowers are coming into full bloom, and some other flowers are in full bloom as well. So, we were able to enjoy flowers in a range of color from purple to pink.

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)

What I was most excited about was a special flavor of wisteria soft cream. I heard about it last year, and was also advised to come to the festival early because there is only a limited amount of ice cream available and it sells out quickly! There were two ways to enjoy the ice cream: in a cone, or in monaka. Monaka is basically an ice-cream wafer sandwich, which is very popular in Japan. Both sell for 150-yen. On our first walk around the pond, we each bought a cone to enjoy. Then on our second time around, we bought the monaka. ^-^ The ice cream tastes so good!! It was impossible to resist getting seconds. It’s hard to describe the flavor of wisteria. The flavor is strong, yet creamy. I think I may even like wisteria better than sakura flavor. It’s a shame that it’s only available for a limited time at these kind of festivals! Otherwise, I’d keep a stock in my freezer and eat it everyday… ^^;;;

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival) .

In addition to the soft cream, we also found some other unique festival foods. For example, an Austrian Bakery vendor which specializes in cakes and cookies. We picked up a small bag of these cookies for 280-yen. And also, cheese dogs for 300-yen! Basically, fried cheese on a stick, similar to a corn dog. I know it’s not really that healthy, but I couldn’t resist!

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)

藤祭り Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival)

Hamamatsu Flower Park & Strawberry Picking

The Lost Blogs #21

Back in April, one of the teacher’s at Nick’s school took us out to enjoy the gardens at the Hamamatsu Flower Park and then go strawberry picking. Although my allergies were at their worst during that time of year, I did enjoy myself at the gardens. The flowers were really beautiful and we were able to see the last of the cherry blossoms before the wind carried the petals away. There also happened to be some food stalls set up, so we bought various dishes and had ourselves a picnic in the park. We got a little carried away and got so full that when we went strawberry picking, we were finding it difficult to keep eating for the full 30 minutes. In case you didn’t know, fruit-picking is really popular in Japan. You basically pay for an all-you-can-pick-and-eat buffet within a time limit. When strawberry picking, you also can receive a small cup of condensed milk to dip the strawberries into.

Here are some of the photos I took during our day trip. To see the full set, check out my set on Flickr.

Hamamatsu Flower Park
Super cute kitty pots!

Hamamatsu Flower Park

Hamamatsu Flower Park
Sakura petals everywhere! It was like seeing pink snow!

Hamamatsu Flower Park
Sakura soft cream! <3

Hamamatsu Flower Park
Food stalls!

Hamamatsu Flower Park
This represents Hamamatsu, the City of Music.

Hamamatsu Flower Park

Hamamatsu Flower Park

Hamamatsu Flower Park
So many tulips…

Strawberry Picking in Hamamatsu
Here is the greenhouse where we went strawberry picking. It’s not actually in the Hamamatsu Flower Park, but it was really nearby.

Strawberry Picking in Hamamatsu
Fresh strawberries for picking!

Strawberry Picking in Hamamatsu
Nom nom nom… I ate so many strawberries.
ゝ(* ̄◇)=3オナカイッパイ

Kakegawa Bird Park 掛川花鳥園

The Lost Blogs #12

Kakegawa Bird Park

In November, we were invited to my friend’s town to check out the Kakegawa Flower and Bird Park (Kakegawa Kachou-en). The park is quite big and is home to several birds, which you can even pet and visit. It was my first time to stroke a penguin, feed an emu, and be so close to owls. I’ve also never seen owls that were awake before. We had an enjoyable time.

Kakegawa Bird Park

Kakegawa Bird Park

Kakegawa Bird Park

Kakegawa Bird Park

Kakegawa Bird Park

Kakegawa Bird Park

See more pictures on Flickr!

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