Thanksgiving was last week (okay... two weeks ago now) and I thought I would do a small update post including a few things I am thankful for here in Goto.
My friends and I had our second annual regular Thanksgiving where I was the sole representative of the true north strong and free. I call it regular Thanksgiving because otherwise it is referred to as 'Canadian Thanksgiving' and just plain 'Thanksgiving' is American Thanksgiving. The menu was as unconventional and eclectic as last year and included quinoa salad, chili, pesto pasta, mashed potatoes, teriyaki chicken and onigiri. Topped off with lemon tarts and crepes for dessert. I ain't complaining. The day also conveniently falls on a Japanese national holiday-- sports and health day. The irony. I am thankful for being able to share a good meal and a bit of home with friends here.
I am thankful for dope festivals in Nagasaki and local tour guides to show us the hidden spots.
This month also contained 'Kunchi' Festival in Nagasaki City. This is Nagasaki's oldest festival and falls every year on October 7, 8 & 9 regardless of the weekday. However, this year that was the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of a long weekend! Several friends and I went over for the day to check out the festivities and a teacher from my friend's school was kind enough to show us the main sites. He is a local of Nagasaki and I swear he knew every other person we passed on the street. Needless to say he was the perfect festival navigator and guided us down winding backstreets to find the best spots to watch the festivities. He was also a wealth of knowledge for history of the festival and the 'right' way to enjoy festivities-- with beer.
Kunchi Festival is about 400 years old and groups participate to represent the different districts and neighbourhoods of Nagasaki city. Groups can only participate once every seven years so it is an important opportunity and the festival is different every year. The districts parade large boats through the streets of Nagasaki and stop at various festival sites or businesses to do performances. There are 'official' festival sites where you can purchase tickets and seats; however, our unofficial guide told us there are so many places to see them and follow them around town this isn't necessary. The tickets also sell out very quickly!
The weather was HOT this weekend and I have no idea how these people carted around these heavy floats all day in the almost 30 degree weather. We saw some groups in the morning perform and as we were walking to the ferry in the afternoon saw the same groups on the other side of the city still going strong and spinning their boat like they had just started. I was tired and sweaty just watching them.
The following is a video of one of the neighbourhoods spinning their ship. They do this all over town in impossibly tight spaces. If you look at the guy at the front of the boat I think he actually takes flight. I don't know how to make the video not so giant.... sorry. If you full screen it and watch is should fit to your screen better.
The festival also included blocks and blocks of festival food that our local tour guide said were 'food for kids'. This did not stop me from over indulging and eating a lemon taiyaki (fish shaped pastry), green onion pie, and giant fried potatoes. All washed down with soda served in a lightbulb shaped glass that lit up. Okay maybe that was for kids.
Lastly, I am thankful for being able to suck at Japanese everyday. I have signed up to take the next level of the Japanese proficiency test in December and studying and learning Japanese is truly a... humbling experience. Most of the time it's frustrating and difficult but the small joys of getting to a new level in my kanji app or understanding things people say to me are 10/10 worth it.