Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Towada Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival

Tuesday I packed for the Aomori (prefectural) Conference from Wednesday to Friday. I also finally made my way to the JTB travel to book my flight (to Toronto) for October. The travel agent was super nice. I felt a little bad because my schedule wasn’t really flexible and I asked her to go through a lot of different options, but finally we ended up getting me a flight on Air Canada leaving Japan and arriving in Canada on Thursday night, and leaving Canada on Sunday morning and returning to Japan Monday in the afternoon. I had to pay a little extra to guarantee my seat, but it still ended up being just a little over 100,000 yen (~$1000), which was a lot cheaper than I was expecting, especially for Air Canada. Plus the return flight is direct, which is really convenient!
Then, early in the evening (around 6pm?) I finally mustered up the courage to go around and to meet my neighbours. I introduced myself, explained I was a new ALT from Canada, and gave out omiyage (souvenirs from Canada). Everyone was very nice, although I didn’t really understand much of what they were saying because I got so flustered by the fact that I was talking alone with them that I couldn’t really process much. One of the neighbours spoke a little English, and she mentioned that she has two children in school. She also said something about how she was a little surprised because my face was Asian, so she didn’t realize I was a new ALT.
Oh, and a funny thing was that everyone asked me if there had been a change in ALT’s. I guess my predecessor didn’t tell any of the neighbours that she was leaving. *shrug*
After that, I went to see the fireworks in the park near City Hall with R, K, J, and AH. They started pretty early—before we even left—so we were worried they would end before we got there, but they actually lasted for about an hour and fifteen minutes!

We wandered around the park for a while, looking at the various food stands that had been set up. Seeing many of the guys and girls in yukata made me wish I had one too! I think that’s a real Japanese experience: going to a summer festival in a yukata and geta! Oh well, hopefully I’ll be able to get one soon. (Maybe they’ll even be on sale, since summer is almost over!)

I also bought my long desired takoyaki, but I forgot to take a picture of it because I had to grab it and go! AB and RB (his wife) were waiting for us at AH's house to take us to RB’s brother’s farm. There we met a huge group of RB’s family, and ate various grilled meats—scallop, chicken, etc.
They offered us lots of alcohol too, but I abstained.