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Shiro Matsuri
The Preparations

"Shiro Matsuri" means "Castle Festival". It is held once a year outside of Wakayama castle along Wakayama's largest street. Our supervisor asked us to participate in this festival and dance in the parade! We used to dread this event, but it really was quite enjoyable!

To prepare for the festival, we gathered at our office at the board of education and began consuming large quantities of food and alcohol. Apparently, like other Japanese festivals, one of the requirements of the participants was to get good and drunk on sake and beer!
At something like this, there's always things you haven't eaten before, things you never dreamed of eating before, and it's a great opportunity to mingle with some of your "coworkers" who you never see. People from other offices come to the party and it's great.

A lot of hijinks goes on behind the scenes of a lot of Japanese festivals and parades! To the left is one drunk coworker doing his best Jamaican impression and below is another getting a forbidden kiss from the wife of an ALT!

During the pre-festivitites we (the ALTs) were also shown the dance steps we needed to know for the parade. The dance steps are quite simple, but difficult to learn from a large group of embullient, drunk Japanese folk. We got the gist of it and when the time had come, made our way outside.

When we got outside, we realized the scope and size of this parade. People from so many businesses and organizations were setting up tents or had shrines they would carry. Many people were decked out in traditional Japanese garb.  We went out on the street an hour early; traffic had been stopped. Everyone had a specific time and place in line in the parade. We got lost several times, but eventually we found our place in line two thirds of the way back.  There were old people, small children, and everyone in between lining up with us.



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