We were blessed with the opportunity of going to the yearly Tanabata Festival in Sendai. It's a BIG deal. I think I would liken it to Portland's Rose Festival.
First, the photos:
|From what I understand, Tanabata is a festival to celebrate the meeting of some legendary prince and princess in the sky.|
|Hundreds of these hang over the walkway of the mall. Different businesses make them. There were a bunch of them from Adidas that we saw.|
|So glad she got this experience.|
|Crossing to the other part of the mall--video to follow.|
|See the little girl in the kimono holding her dad's hand. She was just darling. Wish I would have caught a better picture of her.|
Here are a number of videos of the experience.
This was an accidental video, but you get the idea of the crowds. We were right in the walkway of a mall.
At one point, we were all in a kimono shop. Jason said he was going across the way to a "shop with all the signs outside." #1 was with us, but then she wasn't there any more. I didn't see her go with Jason, but it seemed to me that she left a few moments later. When we saw the shop with all the signs, at first, I couldn't see either of them. I realized that if she was lost, this would be THE worst time and place, but I also understood that she was probably in the best place because the country is so safe and so many speak English--what an experience that would be to take home.
It ended up that both of them were in the very back of the store looking at shoes.
This is us crossing the street to the other part of the mall.
When the light is just about to change, the police use the baton behind the last few people to kind of herd them over to the other side. The first voices you hear over the crowd are of the police telling people to cross quickly because the cars are going to be coming. The last voices--near the end of the video--are of some evangelical Christians telling everyone--via recording--all about salvation and eternal life. These kinds of things are what turns a lot of the Japanese off to the missionaries. They tend to think that all Christians are alike.
There was a white-faced person holding onto one of the signs that has the Christian recording and bullhorn near the park we went to. We called out to him, he was just a kid, but it looked like he didn't understand the words we were saying to him. That was kind of freaky.
At one point in the video, just as we cross the street, there is a monk. You can see his hat but people stop right in front of him, so you don't get a good view before the video ends. He was just so traditional Japanese that I couldn't resist. I only wish I'd gotten a better view of him.
In this video, Joey asks the police for directions to a park:
There was a tent set up for the police to help people out during the festival. The police are an interesting entity in Japan. Each town has a little police stand in the middle of it. I don't know if they arrest people, or if they do, where they put them because, really, the police stands are about the size of a large shed you might have in your yard. Those that we saw were made of brick. Pretty much, the police direct traffic (Ishinomaki doesn't seem to have power to it's traffic signals yet, so the police were there everyday directing traffic) and see to it that people don't get lost. At least, that's my take on them.
Just wanted you to get a view of what a Sendai street looks like. Sorry for the shakiness of the video.
I think I had this toy when I was a kid. Here it is in real life.
You're not going to believe this....
So, at one point I speak Japanese and ask the woman how many months old her child is. She tells me 11 months, and I tell her how cute the baby is. I think if I'd remembered I was filming, I would have turned the camera off to ask. Oops. I was extremely surprised at how much the language came back after not using it for twenty years. That was downright miraculous.
Here's a bit of the festival:
In the above video, I ask a man standing next to me what crawdads/crayfish are called in Japanese. He tells me, but if you asked me today, I couldn't tell you.
My camera would fill up and I'd have to "pull over" to upload the photos and videos. It was pretty comical, but I was thankful for modern technology over and over again during this trip. It's nice to have the benefits of a few moments of inconvenience now for sure.
Here are some more photos:
|Wishes are written on the pieces of paper and hung from trees. We were invited to do this, but my wish had been fulfilled. I didn't have any left to write.|
|#1 commented about this girl's outfit, so I just had to take a photo.|
|Loved this statue of a mother playing with her child. Her focus is all on her baby.|
|The HUGE guy way off in the distance is one of the biggest Japanese guys I've ever seen. He had dyed his hair orange. He kept turning around and staring at #1. I couldn't get my camera to work in time to get an up close photo, but there he is.|
|How can you turn down a photo op like this?...|
|Photos of the earthquake and tsunami. The very first photo at the top was one I hadn't seen before. It was very startling of a mother all covered in dirt and ash holding her baby also covered. Wow! What a hard time for these people!|
|Jason playing the role of "Supa Gaijin"--a role he played so very well. He was dubbed this during our first day of work when what was supposed to take two days ended up taking half a day.|
|Need I say more?|