Sunday, July 24, 2011

Star Festival

Ian and I experienced our first earthquake yesterday. We were in the book store in the BX (walmart/mall) looking at books and trying to decide whether or not to get cell phones when everything just started shaking. It wasn't very dramatic and things weren't falling off shelves so my first thought was that one of the fighter jets was doing a fly over. Except their engines are so loud that Ian and I wouldn't be able to talk to each other, even in doors. The jets are really quite frustrating, but that is another post. After a couple of minutes things stopped shaking and the shop girls started flying around the store looking for broken merchandise. We haven't had tv or internet for a couple of days, so we really aren't sure how big it was or anything like that. Sgt. Hill told us that it was common to get one big earthquake a month here.

Last night we went to our first festival too. There was so many girls dressed up in kimonos and food sellers.
The star festival is usually celebrated on July 7th everywhere else in Japan, but in Misawa it is the last week in July. The condensed story goes...that Sky God had a daughter, Weaver Girl, who would weave cloth for the other gods clothes. She was a workaholic and Sky God wanted her to get out and get a life. "When are you gonna get married? You look so old" Sky God takes Weaver Girl to the other side of the Milky Way to meet Cow Boy, and guess what, it was instant love. Pretty soon the cows got sick and the other gods clothes wore out because Cow Boy and Weaver Girl, like any pair of love struck teenagers, were spending so much time together they were neglecting their jobs. Sky God gets mad and takes Weaver Girl back across the Milky Way. She's so sad that she still wont work. Sky God makes a compromise, If she works very hard for one year then she can see him for one night.

Now, if the sky is cloudy that night that means that Weaver Girl and Cow Boy have to wait til next year. So people tie little pieces of paper with wishes for clear weather on bamboo trees. Nowadays that has just kinda morphed into wishes for all kinds of things.

Huge colorful paper dangly things are hung over the streets and you have to walk under them because there are vendors on either side. So many awesome smelling foods! It is really fun to watch all the little kids run through the streamers. After a few hours of walking through them it was starting to get a little annoying. Another really bizarre thing was the music that they played. They really loved playing "This Land is Your Land" over and over and over - we waited with baited breathe everything time the song ended in hopes of hearing a new song. It got better after a while and they started playing Patsy Kline and old western music. Just Bizarre.

Octopus Balls! Our policy is to always try the weirdest food we can come by. These were actually really tasty. I think they are egg, tiny shrimps, and something else all cooked around an octopus tentacle. Then they pile them high with mayonnaise (the Japanese kind is vastly different from American) and smoked fish shavings. Ian was pretty funny when he bit in to one and then made his little kid face, "You can feel the suckers with your tongue." At that point I was pretty much just swallowing them whole they were so good, so I slowed down and sure enough you could. I think Ian was the most impressed by the smoked fish shavings though.

Judging from these pictures you'd never guess that it's usually 60 degrees and overcast here. Or that this place was packed when we came back that night. I've never seen such beautiful kimonos. Oh, and the guys with their feats of strength and synchronized dancing. We sat on the ground in front of a stage with about a 100 other people watching boys dance hip hop routines. They were actually pretty good, I wish I was that coordinated.


  1. Well at least you had lots of practice eating bull's testicles back home!

  2. oh dancing Asian boys... I miss them so much.