Thursday, May 6, 2010

Oisho! Oisho! Hamamatsu Golden Week!

This past Monday through Wednesday was Golden Week. It's where several national holidays fall around the same time. Monday was Constitution Memorial Day, Tuesday was Greenery Day, and Wedensday was Children's Day. The actual holidays didn't seem to matter too much because all the days of of the festival were pretty much the same... I even had to look up Golden Week on wikipedia just now to remind myself what the actual holidays were.

I went to Hamamatsu for those three days. I got up at 5:30 on Monday (waaaaay too early!) to get on the bus. Then I took the train from Shuzenji to Mishima. I was really excited after we left the station at Shuzenji because I could see Mt. Fuji! If you look hard enough you can see it in the picture below. My camera doesn't seem to like Fuji-san. It was much clearer in real life!

Then I took the train from Mishima to Hamamatsu. I can't afford the Shinkansen right now so I had to take the slow local train which took about two and a half hours. I was able to sleep a little bit, but not much. I'm not as good at it as the Japanese people. I've even seen them sleep standing up... they were snoring so I know they were asleep.

After arriving in Hamamatsu I met up with some friends outside of Starbucks and then we got on a bus and headed to a kite festival. Soon after getting off the bus we saw some taiko drummers. They were letting people up onto the stage to play for a little bit. So of course we took advantage of that opportunity!

The kite festival was very lively! The different neighborhoods within Hamamatsu form teams and fly kites. Sometimes they battle, though I did not see the actual battles. :( We were told that they would battle on Wednesday so we went back again on Wednesday and did not see them battle then either. Some people saw some battles on Tuesday. When the kites would get tangled the teams would start pulling their kites and try and break the other kite's string with the friction.

Even though we did not see any battles it was still fun. The kites are huge! It was really neat to see them.

You can see how big they are in the picture below!

Here is a video I took at the kite festival. The sound quality is bad (so is the video... I can't hold the camera still either!) but the song that is playing was played over and over again by all the teams. It was heard all throughout the festival and at the parades and everything. It's a very short song and it repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats. I didn't mind it... I found it amusing. But some people say they get sick of it by the third day, haha.

There were many food stands too! :)

After the kite festival was over around 3:00, we headed to get on the shuttle bus. The line was soooooooooo long! We waited in line for about an hour. It was amazing though how orderly and organized it was. The people just formed a very organized line that weaved back and forth across a plaza. There were no ropes or anything to keep people organized, but the line stayed in order! No one cut in line either. We talked about how in America or England or Australia they would need ropes to keep people in line and even then people would still be jumping the ropes to cut in line.

Once we finally made it on the bus and got back to downtown Hamamatsu, we went to an international food festival. There were booths of many different types of food including Mexican, Brazilian, Indian, Russian, and many more. I got some chicken curry and nan bread from the Indian booth... yum!

Later that night I saw a parade which was really cool. All the different teams march through the streets, all playing that same song. They pull floats behind them and the people on the floats play music, but they play different more traditional songs.

The next day we headed to the top of a building to hang out.

That night the parade was held again. I took a video of one of the teams marching through the street. They are saying, "Oisho! Oisho!" All the teams said this as they marched around. It doesn't really have a meaning. It's just kind of like, "yay!" They are playing that same song...

Then I saw a Taiko performance. Here are two videos. In the second video there is a kid playing. I think they said he is in 3rd grade, so he's pretty young! He is in the middle. You might not be able to tell that it's a kid because the video isn't really clear. I also wish the audio quality was better because it sounded really cool!

Here are more pictures from my three days in Hamamatsu: Hamamatsu Photos

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