3 in 30 - 2000.08.13
Summer is a busy time for everyone. It seems like nearly every weekend there is some kind of festival or carnival going on. Here are two signs posted near a red and white pole at the end of the bike path behind our house. Someone with a red RX-7 parks nearby.
The posters have been made by elementary school age children to help inform the neighborhood. The one on the right says "Summer Festival" in hiragana. The one on the left says "Honorable Festival" using kanji. Other summer festivals celebrate a pair of stars that appear to be closer during the summer, others particular harvests. I think ours is a simple summer festival.
The festivals for the most part are like county fairs—less the rides. Instead, they have parades with musicians and floats. The floats are usually based on folk theater or local temple paraphernalia. Our neighborhood has two mikoshi which are described to me as portable shrines. The larger one is paraded through the streets by adults, the smaller one by children.
We have seen this playground before...in March. This weekend, the members of the local civic group must have been over here cleaning up the weeds and putting up the tents and stands.
The fence of horizontal boards to the left is where they put up a sign noting the sponsors of the event. We hope to have our name up there next weekend. We just need to figure out where to make our contribution. The tents are where they serve food and beverages. Naturally, the people who help carry the mikoshi get served first. Some years ago, (JAWbone Journal, summer of 1996), Paul did some carrying, the recent years he has complained about his legs being old.
To the right in the snapshot is a wooden structure that is a stage. Next weekend it will be covered in red and white paper and have a cover. Announcements and singing will be the focal point. Dancing to drums and music will highlight the evenings. There is a typical festival dance in a big circle that they do around the stage.
In Japan, students have only about six weeks for summer vacation. This is what our local elementary school looks like on a rainy afternoon while a typhoon is nearby during summer vacation. Quite deserted.
The gymnasium is furthest away in the picture, while classrooms are on the right. The large playing field is on the left. In the center of the picture, it appears to be some elementary school gardening projects. There are flowers as well as some vegetables and even some sunflowers.
Saturday evenings, the gymnasium is filled with students practicing kendo, Japanese stick fighting. It is similar to sword fighting with samuri-type swords, though they use bamboo sticks. Kendo is a fairly popular traditional sport where both boys and girls can participate and excel. We will have to try to interrupt them some evening and see if we can get some snapshots to share.