March 18th was little old Yanai’s spring festival, “Let’s play with flowers and scents!” This festival has become more popular and successful as of late due to how active the city has been promoting it. But sadly the truth of the matter is that fewer foreigners know about the event due to the lack of English used for promotions. But luckily I already had knowledge of the event from my first year here. This year they even stepped up their game.
The festival is always geared towards women wearing kimonos while they walk along the historical white walled street. The festival wants women and girls to feel like a princess from years long past as they walk down the traditional styled streets. I know I sure did with all the compliments I was getting about my kimono and how well it suited me and my adorable face.
This was the second year I got to participate in the festival and invited my good friend Becca to take part in the event as well. She looked lovely in her sakura kimono and matching pink hair clip! My handsome boyfriend Keisuke and my wonderfully fantastic JTE Morihara-sensei joined us for the festivities as well. They ended up becoming our camera crew and assistants if we dropped anything. Bending down to pick up anything is terribly difficult when you have corset like layers of fabric wrapped around your waist.
Together the four of us enjoyed the sights and sounds that was the small festival on the white walled street.
Children laughed and ran about with family in toe, women walked in kimonos while smiling and complimenting one another, and men brave enough to dress up in traditional dress had festival treats in hand; all moving among the busy street full of vendors selling goods and festival foods. It was a wonderful mixture of attractions and people to make this year’s festival great.
I also had a few proud mama moments at the festival I stumbled upon my students working hard as volunteers. It made me so happy that they would volunteer for such an event and that they would do so under the name of our school. It made me even happier to say I am a teacher at Yanai High School and these are my fantastic students. They made my smile shine even brighter that day.
By the end of the event Becca and I were ready to take off our kimonos. While kimonos are beautiful and fun to try on for a day, they are tiring to wear. I was struggling a bit since it was a day of straight back training for me. Becca said her feet got a beating from the workout they got in the geita she was wearing. After we changed back into our street clothes we chatted with the kind ladies we borrowed our kimonos from. They had been all too excited to work with us and talk to us during a “tea break” because we all shared a drink and snacks together.
Since this was the last time I could enjoy the festival while living in Yanai I am ever so grateful to everyone that I had got to meet and enjoy the day with. There were so many surprise meetings of family and friends, along with new faces. It was really a very special day for me and I know I will remember it for a long time.
Then again… next year there is to be a kimono wearing contest. All the ladies were all trying to get me to say I’ll come back to Yanai for, Morihara sensei too. So you hear that Keisuke? Guess we need to take Mom and Dad and come back! Let’s win the award for best couple Kimonos!