Jon and I were able to take part in a number of assorted events, meals, and such that are certainly worth mentioning, but just not on their own. These are those.
The first of them was our Friday morning trip to the kindergarten, where the standard duo of Makita Sensei and myself were assisted by Jon in our English lesson. At this level there isn’t such a structured curriculum, so bringing a friend in to see Japanese kids at their cutest isn’t too much to ask.. As a bonus, this was the first of our Halloween lessons, so it was bound to be a good time. When the three of us first arrived into the two-year-old classroom, a few of them cried at the sight of a new white face, but after a rousing good song and dance we were all on good terms again. After teaching a few Halloween words with puppet props, we all donned festive hats and posed for a group photo.
Makita Sensei being the kind person she is invited us out to lunch that Saturday. We happily accepted the invitation and all drove over together to a place called Nannari for some wonderful Japanese food. This time we had Shabu Shabu, which is similar to fondue. Thinly sliced strips of succulent meat and veggies are dipped into boiling water for a few seconds, then dashed with either a sesame or vinegar sauce before being devoured. It was a really nice lunch that more than filled us all up.
The last big event that I took Jon over to was the Chosa festival held on the far side of the prefecture, in the city of Toyohama. Gathering the gumption to get over there was a drawn out process, but in the end we made it in time to see a good amount of the festivities. This festival is not unlike the Sakaide Chosa festival that I participated in over in Sakaide, where I messed up my shoulder. This time we would only be spectators to the madness, but for portable shrines of this scale that would be enough. Basically for these sorts of events, teams of people haul and hoist their shrines weighing thousands of pounds, all while beating drums and chanting. Each team has their own colorful festival garb, called a hoppi, and together they maneuver this down the narrow streets. People sitting on the very top of it have the task of moving aside electrical and telephone lines. Adding to the mayhem is that members are generally halfway gone from the beer and sake that they take in throughout the all day event. It was a great photo-op for the tourist, and after about an hour we drove back home.
Overall, Jon’s trip was fantastic, partially due to planning and also great fortune. A number of worthwhile events all fell within the same week and a half, and we definitely made the most of them. It’s always great to have a friend make the hike to Japan, and it hasn’t happened much. On top of how nice it is to see friends after a lengthy passage of time, it also helps me put on my tourist hat and actually get to some of these special places and events myself. As always, my little home in the Japanese countryside has an open invitation, and hopefully I’ll have a few more willing to make the journey before I leave.