Monday, February 21, 2011

Saidaiji Hadaka Festival

aka The Naked Man Festival in Saidaiji. Or, The Big One. In my eyes, the festival is about a bunch of dudes wearing nothing but a fundoshi (that white cloth that seems like they're wearing diapers) and beating the crap out of each other to get the 'lucky stick.' Oh the dirty jokes are too many to count...

..and the fight begins! Actually the actual event was short and pretty anti-climactic compared to the preparation for the fight. The men looked like they were grouped with their work, or some other organization (so of course the foreigners were with the foreigners). The ran around the temple several times, screaming わっしょい!and getting purified by water. So not only were they running nearly naked, but running around wet. Ah well, I bet the alcohol (which none of them were not supposed to consume before the fight), was keeping them warm. I think after they threw the stick, they turned off all the lights in the temple because about 5 minutes later the lights were on and they announced the stick was caught. Little did I know that that wasn't the end of it. Now the unlucky guy had to get that stick out of the temple gates. I thought it would be more....violent, but from my view it looked very neat. It was the most organized brawl I've ever seen. But props to the foreigners/JET members who participated! I rooted for you! I'll post more pics and video on my Flickr site soon.

After the event, Jessi and I took the train back into Okayama City to wait for the others who went there via AJET. After meeting up at McDonalds (sadly the only 24 hr place open) Jessi, Caroline, Jessica and I went for karaoke. All. Night. Of course I had a taiko concert to go to the next day and while being sick. >_>

In a short note, the taiko concert was AWESOME. The group was Ura Taiko Dan. I guess the reason I loved it so much was that they were very theatrical in their performance. Their last song, Ura, had half of them dress as priests and the other as oni and the song was more or less their 'battle.' Even the kid group had a piece about Momotaro vs. the oni. And I thought my taiko group was hard! These guys were crazy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

February New Years Post

Funny what you can accomplish when you're sick: a blog post! I think I'll be switching to this blog for my living-in-Japan experience, then going back over to LJ for my otaku tendencies. Hehe~

I won't cover everything I did during my holidays, but to sum it up from Dec. 17-23 I was back in the states for my sister Niki's catillion and spent Christmas weekend in Tokyo and visited friends. I'm so glad I spent a few days in Tokyo with my friends who I haven't seen in FOREVER. I think it helped me adjust to me being in Japan again and helped me lose my homesickness. I guess I didn't feel so alone? Something like that.

I tried to do a stereotypical New Years in Japan. First I spent New Years Eve by going to my first sento with Jessi (another Okayama JET), eating toshikoshi soba (end-of-the-year noodles), and watching Kouhaku Uta Gassen, or the red vs. white singing competition until the countdown.

New Years Day Jessi, Caroline and I spent the day shrine hunting for Hatsumode, or the first shrine visits in the New Year.

We went to 2 major shrines in Okayama: Saijo Inari and Kibitsu Shrine. Above is a pic I took at Kibitsu shrine, but I think I enjoyed Saijo Inari more because A) it was snowing while we were there B) had those awesome inari guardian dogs and C) a LOT more festival food! I was happy because I actually got good fortune this time! 2 years ago on my last trip to Japan I got a neutral one so I tied it up to a tree so I was glad I was able to take this fortune with me.

Next weekend some of the girls headed over to Shikoku to use up the Seishun 18 tickets. I was excited because one of my goals is to visit each island of Japan. I really wanted to go to Megijima Island aka Oni Island where the legend of Momotaro fighting the oni took place. Of course living in the prefecture where Momotaro is pretty much the mascot I wanted to go. Unfortunately we didn't know about the lack of ferries going to the island so we would be cutting it close if we did go. Instead we went to Ritsuin Park.

Man, this park was huge! I don't think we even got through half the park. But we were distracted by 2 things: koi and...

CATS. There were quite a few of them hanging around one of the omiyage shops. These cats were...snarky. They had attitude. There was one we called Voldemort because he had these bright green eyes and when he looked at us it was like the 'avada kedavra' of stares. Crazy cat. 

To be honest this is all I can remember of this trip. Maybe when I have time (or when I get sick again, sadly getting sick is more probable, stupid winter) I could talk about my other past adventures like my first experience in a capsule hotel. Actually that would've been a better thing to blog about, but oh well. 

Next adventure: Naked Man Festival!

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