Sunday, May 26, 2013

Matsuri (Japanese Festival)

I am standing on the bridge that goes over Blue Street to the entrance of the Chuo Station.
I've heard this called a couple different lady said it is called Rei Tei Sai and it is to celebrate good health and prosperity.  Someone else said it is a festival to celebrate Yokosuka.  Yet another person, said it was to honor a local shrine.  And, someone else said it was to celebrate what a wonderful not-so-big-city Yokosuka is....I'm sure it's a combination of all of those.

Every year around Memorial Day, Yokosuka holds a Matsuri, a Japanese Festival, on Blue Street.  It's a two day festival, Saturday and Sunday, where vendors set up stalls all along Blue Street and sell food, fish, turtles, toys, games, etc.

We walked to Blue Street at about 5 p.m. and started up one side, crossed over the street and walked back up on the other side.  We were trying to find something interesting to eat for all of us.  At the end of the first side of the JAPANESE festival we found:  french fries for Mackenzie and a chicken gyro for Kris, Garytt and I to share.  I know....weird!  But, I had a hard time finding a table that didn't have squid on it, and I just wasn't ready to be that adventurous.  I've heard it's really good, but I just couldn't make myself do it.  Maybe by the time this rolls around next year I'll be ready.

Shaved chicken
first bite...yum!

Surprise....Miss Picky is eating FRIES!
We walked across the bridge and then down the other side of the street.  This side was mostly games and toys and desserts.

The fish booth was a game.  You pay a few hundred Yen and get a little paper net.  You then get to try and catch as many fish as you can before the net falls apart.   Most people we saw had two or three fish in their bags.
 Same thing goes for the turtles.  Kris stood up to the begging and pleading...he kept strong and refused to let ME try to get a turtle.  :(  They are so darn cute!!!

The kids were promised one gift each.  They both chose masks.  One Japanese lady asked us if we knew who the personalities were behind Mackenzie's mask....we had no clue.  She said she was a vocaloid...just a computer voice.  So, we googled her when we got home.  Turns out, her name is Miku.  Hatsune Miko, to be exact, and she is quite popular here.  She has all kinds of albums and videos.  She even has a version of "Gangnam Style".

We found a snack that Mackenzie would eat.  It was thin dough filled with cheese and then was delicious!
And, we found something else she would try...Choco Banana.  It was a banana covered in white chocolate.  It was a different kind of white chocolate, not as sweet as what we get in the states.  It was okay.  

Finally, the kids both had slushies.  The vendor filled the cups with ice and then the kids could put their own flavoring on.  That made it fun!

So, since the kids ate mostly junk at the Matsuri, for snack they had hot dogs.  :)  I missed taking pictures of the chicken and steak on sticks that we had.  Kris and Garytt ate most of it, Mackenzie and I tasted it.

On one of our rounds up and down Blue Street we were able to check out the cart preparations.  The cart below was carried around town.  

I'm not sure what that is to the right in the picture below.  I was told that it was possibly a shrine.  It's not usually there, so I'm not so sure how true that is.  I didn't know shrines could be mobile.  I'll have to research that a little more.

At 7 p.m. the carts started moving up and down the streets.  We found a spot one block East of Blue Street, near Lawson's Drug Store and and waited.  We heard the music first, then heard people chanting, and then saw the mass of people heading down the street.  We were able to get a few videos.  It was pretty cool to see.  Not as extravagant as we thought it would be, but still fun to watch.

The people walking beside the cart would switch places with the people carrying the cart when they got tired.  It was a constant switch.  There were men and women carrying it around, young and old.  They all were chanting.  There were also people walking with them and taking pictures.  We made it into someone's photo album because the people below thought Kris was hilarious.

Helping the kids get a good view

 Taking pictures of Kris and the kids.  They probably took at least 30 pictures each.  They had us all pose together and talked to us about how good Garytt was.

The music cart

This lady is taking a break from her turn carrying the cart.  She looks pretty tired!

 What an interesting night!  We saw a lot of interesting food and walked among thousands of people.  It was quite a bit of fun!  The kids had fun seeing all the different foods, even if Mackenzie refused to taste most of it.  I've heard there are tons of festivals all summer long here, so stay tuned....more to come!!