Monday, June 30, 2008

Jenny Does Japan 9: Kites are Cool

The parade portion of the Hamamatsu Festival was a complete success on Friday night and totally made me fall in love with Hamamatsu. On Saturday I was pumped to check out the Kite Battle aspect of the festival, which makes this festival in Japan so unique. They even have an entire museum dedicated to the history of kite flying in Hamamatsu, so it's a pretty big deal. After getting a delayed start due to the fact that us and apparently all of the 2 million other visitors also needed to store baggage, we eventually got on a bus to head to the Nakatajima Sand Dunes.
This is where over 170 kites, each bearing the unique crest of a local neighborhood, are flown. Apparently the first ones flown are celebrating the birth of a firstborn child. It's said to be a 440 year old tradition, started by the Lord of Hikuma Castle. After those go up, the sound of bugles, drums, and peoples cheers encourage the others to go up.

Yay! My first glimpse of sand dunes in Japan!
We had to walk quite a bit to get to actual location of the kite flying field.
Fortunately, we had a bout 1 million other people leading the way.

All the cool kids were sportin' kites.

I think we're getting cllllllllllloooooserrrrr....

Time for a lunch break - mmmm, sushi and fresh corn on the cob!

And, we finally made it. The big field of kite fliers!

I give these guys SO much credit. It was ridiculously hot out, which was actually a nice change from the cold and rainy weather we'd been having, but these dudes were wearing dark blue linen oneies and working their butts off to the get the kites up, keep 'em up, and then lower them back down. Amazing.

Here's a video showing what a kite battle's all about.

In between the field and the dunes was this awesome shaded area where people were chillin'.

More festival food and game stands, but it was too hot to handle in the heat of the afternoon.

Tuckered OUT!
Yessss, The Pacific Ocean! The cool breeze was JUST the thing we needed - felt awesome!

And, we still had an awesome view of the kite battles.

As we were walking down to the dunes, some awesome Japanese guy insisted Jenny and I take some of his beer. I think anything cold would've hit the spot right then, but the fact that the can read, "Sheer refreshment! Open up the smooth taste that goes perfectly with good times. BREWED FOR GOOD TIMES." made it particularly delicious. I'm easily impressionable, obviously.

Time to head back.

When we got back into central Hamamatsu, we wanted to grab some more festival food before hittin' the road again that night. It was maybe the greatest surprise of the trip to stumble into the International section of the Festival. We got some souvenirs and sampled some grub from just about every country we wanted. It was all pretty delicious, but I'd have to say my Filipino fruity ice cream was the clear winner of the bunch. There were also some performances working their way through the crowds.

This dude was just creepy, though. But, a hilarious way to end the festival madness before we had to roll out, nonetheless.

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