Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer Fireworks Festival In Japan!....Part I

 I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a traditional Yukata from my friend, Minako (pictured here with me) and she knew someone that could help me wear it correctly! Yay! What do you think? The ladies did an amazing job with the obi (the sash wrapped around my stomach)! You can see how I asked them to tie the sash in the next picture.

 Since it is the year of the rabbit this year, I thought this obi was very fitting!

 The first thing I had was Kakigouri, a snow cone or shaved ice whichever you would like to call it, with strawberry syrup on top. The most popular flavor is called "blue hawaii". Don't ask me why it is called this, because I would like to know the answer to this question as well. I asked a couple of my Japanese friends and they have no clue too. If anyone knows why, please tell me!

 Yum!

 This is the baby Castella cake. If you know Castella cake, at least in Japan, it usually comes as a block and has a custard flavor. It is mainly yellow with a thin dark brown layer that is the bottom when being baked. If you have the chance to try Castella, I highly recommend that you do! It is delicious!!!

 There were soooo many stands at this festival and a lot of them are repeats so I am only posting the main stands that were present at this festival. Here is a Karaage stand, Japanese style deep fried chicken, excellent! But, it was a little difficult to eat standing and only toothpicks to eat these big pieces of chicken.....don't worry we managed not to lose a single piece! (Isn't nice of these two men to pose for this picture? And without being asked to do so! lol)

 So this was a new stand that I hadn't seen before. They had the traditional yakisoba, noodles with sauce that are pan fried, pictured on the left. Then on the right side you can see the yakisoba being wrapped into an omelet.....okay......sounds filling. I skipped trying this, since I'm not that big of a fan of yakisoba, unless it is home made...by my mother, so moving on to a different stand!

 Here is a picture of the basic flavors that you will see for the Kakigouri! In order, Strawberry, Blue Hawaii, Lemon, Melon and Cherry! Although, this was the only stand that I noticed that had Cherry flavor syrup...I should have bought my snow cone here!

 Walking towards the main part of the festival. We didn't even get to the main street when we started coming across various stands! Here are some young ladies walking to the festival in front of us wearing a Yukata that is made easy to wear. Simply wrap the cloth around your body and quickly tie a short sash and then CLIP on a bow! If you like you can purchase this kit in stores fairly easily, try a department store or discount stores.

 Fresh pineapple on a stick! It was really good, because it was simple, fresh and COLD!

 Toumorokoshi! Grilled corn on the cob with soy sauce! Very simple, but oh so good!

 Takoyaki! Hmmmm....there is no delicious way to describe this food which is one of my favorites. It has a small piece of octopus in the middle of a round ball of batter. Once cooked you put a special sauce, seaweed, fish flakes, Japanese mayo, and some ginger and devour! Before making a judgement please try it and then decide if you like it or not. FYI you don't really taste the octopus....mainly, because octopus doesn't have a strong flavor.

 Okonomiyaki! It's like a Japanese style pancake, but it's not sweet. It's savory and comes in numerous ways! It is very fun to go to a Okonomiyaki restaurant, because you get to cook it at the table yourself! It is very filling with lots of cabbage and other ingredients that you choose. Of course, at a festival you only get the basic option which is cabbage, batter, egg, and a piece of ham! You eat this with the same sauce and toppings as Takoyaki!

 Mizufuusen! It's a water balloon that you catch with a hook that is attached to a piece of paper. The skill is in getting as many balloons as you can with one hook before it breaks!

 Who wants a face mask? One of the fun parts of a festival for kids for generations! The only thing that changes is some of the mask characters, but of course there are the traditional ones.

 Like Hyottoko (top left corner) and Okame (next to the first one). Which one do you want?

 Watagashi! Cotton Candy! Need I say more?

 My friend Minako modeling a Ramune. It is a drink that tastes like Mitsui Cider, or Sprite is probably the closest flavor you can find in the U.S. This drink is fun, because there is a marble in the top that you can't get out unless you break the glass. This drink has been a long standing tradition to drink at a summer festival, but this was the first time I saw a design on the wrapper, it had a summer print of goldfish!

Here is a little view of what the festival was like. There were sooooo many people and it was a little hot, but it was a cloudy day (luckily) so it kept the day from becoming too hot. Festivals are fun for couples, families, and friends to come and enjoy. But, if you don't like crowds or tight places I don't recommend going to one. At times it does get very tight with people. Otherwise, I recommend experiencing a summer festival at least once.

The festival also had a Bon Odori (a traditional Japanese dance at festivals) and a fireworks show. Please watch out for the following posts about these other activities that make up a summer festival!