It’s hard to believe, but as of today I have officially been working in Japan for 3 years – and what a crazy three years it has been. I feel as though this needs more of a reflection post, but I’d rather share pictures from yesterday’s festival.
While I absolutely despise Japan’s humidity in the summer, one thing that makes it all almost seem worthwhile are all the fireworks festivals. My city, due to a serious lack of money, had to cut it’s fireworks festival this year, so I had to go to the next city over. This actually worked out for the best since there is a large yosakoi performances to enjoy.
Yosakoi (よさこい) is a unique style of dance that originated in Japan. Yosakoi started in the city of Kōchi in 1954, as a modern rendition of Awa Odori, a traditional summer dance. Yosakoi-style dancing has spread throughout much of Japan. The style of dance is highly energetic, combining traditional Japanese dance movements with modern music. The choreographed dances are often performed by large teams. Along with a number of professional yosakoi schools and town dance teams, yosakoi is also a popular event during the sports festivals held by Japanese elementary, junior, and senior high schools. Yosakoi participants include men and women of almost all ages – sometimes within a single team. In the dialect of Tosa province (modern-day Kōchi Prefecture), “yosakoi” means “Come at night.”
Here is a short video I took of one of the performances.
After watching some dance performances, we decided to check out some of the festival food. I have an extensive post a while back where I talked about various types of foods, but I will share one more with you now that I had not seen previously: meat onigiri.
These are delicious onigiri rice balls wrapped in marinated beef, which are then grilled. You can choose toppings such as melted cheese, mayo, tabasco and mentaiko. They can now be found in Tokyo, but the original Nikumaki Onigiri started in Miyazaki. I opted for one with sesame seeds on top where as my friend, Pam, went for one with mayo.
One more, although it is not a traditional Japanese festival food, is the tasty Döner kebab sandwich. Jun had about two of them (I say about two because he ended up eating most of the one I ordered because I was busy talking to some students). Döner kebabs are starting to appear, mostly in Tokyo, where they are predominantly sold from parked vans. Döner kebabs have been adjusted to suit Japanese tastes; the salad is usually omitted in favour of shredded cabbage, and the sauce is composed primarily of mayonnaise.
The main event, at least for me, were the fireworks at night. People had already been putting tarps down to claim their spots since about noon, so by the time we got around to it at 5-ish, there were no spots in the main area, but we managed to find something. The thing that is great about fireworks displays in Japan is that they go for an entire hour! Not even exaggerating, they really do last an entire hour.
And, for good measure, let’s finish up with a short video of the fireworks (this was around 30 minutes in).
All in all, not a bad way to celebrate starting my 3rd year in Japan!