Monday, August 07, 2006

Saturday - 宇都宮 Matsuri

Quite the action packed weekend, so I thought I'd post by day and break up the story a little bit. Here's the first of 3 posts for the weekend.

This weekend was Mia Matsuri here in Utsunomiya. Just as last year, the crowds came out in force for the largest summer festival in Tochigi Prefecture. Mia Matsuri is usually coupled with Utsunomiya's Tanabata Festival, for which these colourful decorations are hung throughout Orion street for a contest I believe.

While we were unfortunately working for the first and busiest day of festivities, that doesn't mean we don't get to be involved. Since the school is practically in the middle of it, it's easily accessible during our breaks. For lunch, I headed out into the crowds and got myself some food at the yatai which are peppered throughout any festival out here in Japan. It's difficult to choose a favourite amongst the delicacies offered, but yaki soba (fried noodle), oconomiyaki and fried chicken definitely top the list. Here's a tacoyaki (fried octopus balls) stall right outside the office.

After finding a bite to eat, I met up with Yoshiko and we had a refreshing mango smoothie at Freshness Burger. The heat has returned with a vengeance to Utsunomiya and we've seen temperature soaring into the mid 30's for quite a few days now. I don't mind the heat, unless I'm working and have to wear a suit, makes for some rather unpleasant moments... but at least I'm not in full uniform and having to play an instrument while marching down the street...

Got busted trying to take a photo of this little old lady making Yaki Soba...

During my second hour-long break of the day, I headed back out in time to catch some more of the parade as it wound its way down the closed street.

After work, Matt was leaving for Tokyo to be closer to the airport for his flight out tomorrow, so I walked him down to the station and soaked in some of the atmosphere. As usual, the mikoshi were bouncing around, drum trucks were doing their thing and yukata were worn by many. Here's the pile of people climbing the stairs to Futarayama Shrine, the center of the festival.

Still playing around with the ol' S3, and the lighting conditions weren't great with all the movement spots... but some of the longer exposure shots make for some interesting effects. Here's a float I caught as it was coming past me.

Literally seconds after this shot was taken, it sped off and the streets were quiet. I then hopped on the old bike and headed out to Yoshiko's place to rest up for Sunday's outing with my soon-to-be parents-in-law.

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