Sunday, August 22, 2010
Finally Adapting to the Mitake Lifestyle: Middle of August
I cannot believe how fast my third week in Japan went. It honestly feels like yesterday was Tuesday, maybe Wednesday. On the 26th, I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in Wadaiko (or Japanese Drumming, we know it as Taiko). For about 2 hours, I, along with 9 other teachers and other educators took a lesson from 2 great drummers. At the end of the class, we went up in pairs and played through the entire song. It was about 3 minutes long, and I was lucky enough to get paired with the junior high music teacher, so when I got off a little bit, he was definitely right on the music. It was lot of fun, and I would love to do it again! I will say it was quite hot in the gym, which brings me to the next interesting tidbit about Japan. Everyone (I mean EVERYONE) carries a little towel with him or her wherever they go. It’s essentially sweat towel, and lets just say that I’ve gotten into the swing of things and now I bring my towel everywhere I go! Now, I never fear going somewhere without napkins, since most restaurants in Japan do not give you napkins! Odd huh? Yeah, now try to eat with chopsticks and not spill on your clothes! It’s tough!
The weekend flew by and now I face another week! On Saturday, Sachiko (Mrs. Watanabe, my new friend, who speaks English!) and her friend took me to Mitake no Mori (or Mitake’s Forest). They picked me up bright and early at 7am, and we ventured to the forest. We took the hiking course, and let me tell you, it was a hiking course. I think I might need real hiking shoes if I ever do it again! My poor Nike’s. It took us about 90 minutes, and I have no idea how far we walked, but it must have been a good distance since it was definitely a workout. Remember how everyone carries a towel? Well, let’s just say it got a nice workout too.
On Saturday night (the 21st), I drove to the bigger train station (about 15 min by car or 8 min by train) called Kani Station, and took the JR line to Minoota, or Minokamo City (2 stops away). Another ALT from the Philippines invited me to watch the fireworks with her husband and family/friends. This was the same kind of festival I went to in my town 2 weeks ago, but A LOT bigger. The fireworks lasted over an hour! It was awesome. We were on the river, so there was a nice breeze that made the 30 degree (roughly 86) weather bearable. They had so many food vendors, and I can’t even imagine how many people where there, but there had to be a hundred thousand +. It was unbelievable how many people showed up. This is the Obon Season, where they celebrate those who have passed away, and they show their respect with fireworks.
Here are some pictures from the festival:
On Sunday, the Watanabe’s picked me up and took me to their house for some cards and lunch. Sachiko said she woke up at 4:30am to make curry for lunch! I was shocked when I heard that! Next time, we are going to make it together, since now I know it takes so long. After a lot of cards and lunch, we went to Mitake-jo (castle).
Ok, so it’s not really a castle, but just pillars. The Watanabe’s gave me some good information about the castle, it is wonderful having people who know the history of the town and can translate it into English! The original castle was built during the Edo period and it eventually burned down. When they went to rebuild it, they couldn't since the mountain top on which the original castle was built on is very difficult to build on. The area upon which the original castle was built is very small they decided to build a monument in its honor. After Mitake-jo, we went to the Temple behind Mitake Elementary School. It was built in 1433, and is one of the most historic temples built. The really important temples have 3 stripes on the front wall, and this temple is in the exclusive club. It is currently undergoing a renovation and you can tell since it is very clean and new inside, but it doesn’t take away from the history of the temple.