August in Japan means festivals, festivals, festivals! Hanabi (fireworks), lantern festivals, taiko (Japanese drums), odori (traditional dance), yukata (summer kimonos), and festival food! Last week, Jonathan and I bought cotton candy, shaved ice, corn on the cob, and small pancake balls that are very popular here at festivals. The word for festival in Japanese is matsuri, and we have been to many matsuri, and more to come!
Our local festival, Super Ogase, was this past Friday and Saturday. Friday night featured festival food, traditional dances, and a raffle! Saturday was the main event with taiko drums, the lighting on fire and spinning of a 20 meter (about 60 feet) tall leaf-shaped structure constructed of bamboo and possibly rice stalks (think bundles of hay), and finally an amazing fireworks show! We brought new ALTs out to view this amazing spectacle, and they were thoroughly wow-ed. I enjoyed it just as much this year as I did last year, which goes to show how impressive the festival actually is. Jonathan and I have been to a few festivals in our time here in Japan, but the Oi town organizers rightfully put the "Super" in Super Ogase.
This week is Obon, a kind of religious holiday in Japan revolving around family, food, and remembering of ancestors. It is similar to the Day of the Dead in Latin American culture, but obviously with many aspects unique to Japan. Hopefully we will be able to make a few more trips to the beach over the next few days to soak up the beautiful summer weather we are having. I have avoided severe sunburns and I will continue to take extreme precautions so that I am able to enjoy my summer as much as Jonathan is enjoying it. We bought him a swim suit and snorkeling gear, so he is having a grand time in the water.
We miss you and love you!
Laura (and Jonathan)
p.s. We purchased a Greenwood phone number from skype, so if you call 1 (317) 884 8459, you can call our computer from your American cell phone or land line! Exciting! If the computer is off or we are not home, we have voicemail, so just leave us a message and we will call you back. :)