Today feels like a Monday but it is already Wednesday. I have the Monday slug, and by that I mean I am sluggish and tired. Yesterday was a holiday, so you think I would be well rested. The holiday was Culture Day! What that really means as a holiday, I am not sure, but regardless of what I think, it is a holiday. So, there was no school for students or office time for the teachers; though I think some students still had sports practice.
If you know me well enough you know I am not one to just do nothing. So, unlike those who would like to sit at home and do nothing, I went to the Kitsune no Yomeiri (狐の嫁入り, the fox’s wedding festival). A fellow ALT had posted about the event on the Yamaguchi ALT Facebook page. Their school’s students would be doing a tour of the event and area all in English. I was for sure going to this event. I wanted to spend time with my ALT buddies and work with the students.
The event was fabulous. It was so much more than I had expected. It took place in the city called Hanaoka, near Kudamatsu. The Karyo High School students, which we would end up spending the day with, were so nice. They did their best to explain to us, in English, what was going on and some of the history of the area. The even and teaching staff wanted to be sure we got to see many different things. This allowed us to use the festivals hoppies, wear the fox makeup, and fox festival masks, which we got to keep. We also had been allowed to help the students carry the mikoshi (神輿, portable Shinto shrine).
The mikoshi had a base made of wood and then additional things had been added to decorate it. The Karyo High School students had decorated theirs with a girl in the schools uniform wearing a fox mask and wings. There was also additional bright and shiny decorations added. Other teams that took part in the parade had created mikoshi of all shapes, sizes, and ideas, but all fallowed the fox wedding theme.
Something that is also additionally special about this parade is not just the fact that a group of people carry these heavy mikoshi down a long path but they also get spun around and lifted up and down. Yes, that is correct, spun and lifted. You bet I was right beside the students working hard to so off the Mikoshi they had created. I was also yelling out the festive chant that in excitement, “washoi, washoi!”
The festival food was also fantastic. Just like state fair foods you can find food on a stick and deep fried, but it is so much better here in Japan. I ate Karagi, grilled ika on a stick, taiyaki, and choco banana. It was all so good! There were many other foods to choose from as well, like yakisoba and okonomiyaki on a stick, but there is so many you can’t always eat them all.
Like any event the festival was full of different things to do and enjoy. The problem is always not having enough time to do and see it all. I hope that I will be able to have this wonderful experience at next year’s festival because it was full of fun, food, and friendship.