August 6, 2000


Right now I'm feeling: pretty good

Right now I'm listening to: Nanase Aikawa

Nanase Aikawa: Heat of the Night

Shiro Matsuri

Before we went out for the parade, of course we needed to feast with the staff of the B.O.E. They were already inside for an hour, getting good and drunk

A close up of some of the tender morsels. You got all your basics... fish eggs wrapped in seaweed, sushi, octopus, squid, raw fish, and several dozen other things which I couldn't identify.

This poor soul had too many already... at 6 pm (our procession started at 9pm). He entertained us with a "magic" act for a while. The Japanese go nuts over cheap magic tricks.

A shot in the "Happy Coats"

One of the carried shrines, which, in the old days, were believed to house gods

Last night I dreamed:
I was standing in a vast field. I could tell that the soil was long dead and most of it was dry and powdery. I felt that I wanted it to grow again, so I picked up one of the largest dirt clods and crushed it in my hand. It was very hot, not a cloud in the crystal blue sky. I walked around the field sprinkling the dirt at my feet. Then I opened up my hands and knelt to the ground. Pressing my hands against the dirt, I felt myself growing warm and then the ground began to sprout. Purple blossoms on green stalks grew right before my eyes all the way up to my knees. When I stood up it was an entirely different scene. Clouds dotted the sky and the air was thick with the scent of the flowers. Purple blossoms as far as I could see.
Then I began feel warm. Hot. Unbearably hot. My entire body suddenly burst into flames! It wasn't really painful; I wasn't being burned. I looked down at my unharmed hands and I could see the flames licking around my palms and fingers. I could feel the tears in my eyes from the heat...
I woke up to find myself drenched in sweat. I got up, took a shower and had to change the sheets before I could go back to sleep. It was 5 am.

Shiro Matsuri II

Last year the city ALTs and I marched in Shiro Matsuri ('Castle Festival' which is actually more just a parade). It was interesting and so many people in Wakayama city come out and stand along the main street to see the procession. Probably every company is out and dancing in the parade as well, from Ninomiya, a big electronics store, to the local beer company, parading in fuzzy beer costumes.

As soon as we stepped into the BOE and sat down at the long table spread with all sorts of very Japanese foods, they brought out the beer. HUGE mugs of beer. They were almost speechless when we all refused politely (none of us are drinkers). I'm afraid we seemed a bit non-adventurous... Glen's not really up for trying new foods and Allen's a vegatarian (nearly everything was seafood or had seafood in it). Lesa and I tried some various Japanese foods. As much as I wanted to please my hosts, I just couldn't bring myself to eat those little fish eggs. Or the raw squid. Lesa did, though. The raw squid that is. I should have taken a before and after shot of her eating the squid. The look on her face after she tasted it was absolutely priceless.

Our three hours spent on the 11th floor in city hall wasn't boring at all. A number of the men had been drinking, presumably for hours, and they were quite drunk by the time we got there (apparently this is a very common thing. Men from all sorts of companies can be seen staggering in the parade). The hair comes down at these types of things and even if the men aren't truly drunk, you get to see how they really are, or rather how they would like to be outside of the confines of Japanese strictures. One man who staggered into the BOE entertained us with a bit of sleight of hand, number magic and I think there was a card trick thrown into the mix somewhere. He's the guy wearing the wig on the left. Another man who came by sat himself next to Lesa and started telling us how he had once played in a famous stadium in Japan when he was in highschool, maybe 30 years ago. Hmmm. You got to wonder about a guy's life when he probably believes that the only worthwhile thing he can tell strangers about himself is his glory days in high school baseball. He also was getting really close to Lesa and was really fawning over her. Bordering on harassment. Pawed her a bit, put his arm around her, didn't touch her in any really questionable reigons, but pissed me off all the same.

Then it was time. The procession had been going on for some time already and it was time we got in line to march. We got on our 'happy coats', getting some help when we needed it. Again, the drunk, baseball-glory-days pawer came out and was overly helpful with both Glen and Lesa. On the side with our boss, Mr. T., we talked about some of the finer points of sexual harassment. He thought what that guy was doing was wrong, even for being drunk, but he also said that everyone would just let it slide because he was drunk.

So we get outside and find out place in line. This year, the people at city hall, who kind of host the parade, were last, to sort of thank everyone for coming out and participating. We went out around 8 or 8:30, and going out so late, we thought we wouldn't be standing around in the heat (it was still really hot that night), but we were! For about an hour and a half or so. That was ok, though, cause there was plenty to see. Everyone was decked out in costume or yukata. Glen and Lesa snapped a bunch of pics of the parade and some of the more exotic participants. Like the vikings who work the show at Port Europa across the river (you can see them in the slideshow below. The Kirin beer company employees are also in the slideshow).

All ages were represented. Little kids in yukata or costume. They were absolutely adorable (is it ok for a guy to say that?). Plenty of drunk men, too! Of course, none of us remembered how to dance the dance, but it looked like not too many people did. So many people seemed noticeably more slack with the precision of the dance this year than last year. Except for the man from the BOE who took it upon himself to teach us how. He danced in front of us, leading the way for the BOE, enjoying the dance a little too much, I think. But, hey. Whatever floats your boat, you know what I'm saying?

It was late when we finally finished the parade. The stalls that sold the cotton candy and Japanese treats and carnival games were pretty much closed up.

Enjoy the pics!! Take care, folks!

Procession in yukata and ceremonial dress

Want to see a few more pictures?

To the Archives What has Past What is Yet to Come Go Home Email Me! Subscribe to my Notification List