Friday, August 13, 2010

The 64th Annual Atsugi Ayu Matsuri

I've been in Japan for 4 months now, and I still haven't gone to a festival or fireworks yet! For the past few weekends I've gone out and have heard/seen fireworks off in the distance, even from the train, but I haven't had the chance to actually go to one. Last week there was even a festival just across the river in Ebina, but it didn't quite work out for me to go. But no longer! This past weekend there was finally a festival in my town, so how could I not go?

The 64th Annual Atsugi Ayu Matsuri

Atsugi is the name of my city, Ayu is a fish... apparently called sweetfish in English, and Matsuri means festival. So the 64th annual Atsugi Sweetfish Festival, yea. Pictures here.

Anyways, the atmosphere in the city was definitely different from usual. Aside from 10x as many people than usual, there were people setting up concession stands like... inside the station. Most of the restaurants had little stands setup just outside selling food and drinks. Plus half of the people were wearing Kimono. So to fit better into the atmosphere, I decided this was a good chance to wear my Jinbei.

Quick lesson on Kimono. The word Kimono (着物) literally means something you wear, and (by my understanding) it kind of refers to Japanese clothing in general. So there are many varieties of Kimono for men and especially women, probably of which the most 'internationally' popular is the Furisode (振袖), which is a woman's formal kimono with long sleeves. I hear they can cost as much as a car, yikes. But we can't be wearing something restricting and heavy like that in the hot summer, so there's a much lighter variety called a Yukata. This is generally the festive attire of choice for matsuri, so there were a LOT of people in Yukata. Another, simpler substitute is the Jinbei which, well simply explained is kind of like the tops and bottoms to pajamas. I actually have both a yukata and a jinbei, but went for the jinbei since it is REALLY HOT OUT lately.


Yea... that about sums that up. As you can imagine I got plenty of stares from practically, well, EVERYONE. As uncommon as it is to have foreigners out in these parts, its even more rare to see one wearing a Jinbei. I completed the look in style with some sunglasses too, haha.

Anyways, included in the festivities were a variety of events, lots of which took place in the various parks scattered throughout the city. In fact, one of the parks not too far from my apartment had some hip hop dancing, which was really interesting because the dancers were wearing Japanese styled hip hop attire. Too bad I didn't take any pictures, oh well.

So first we stopped by Atsugi central park since thats where a lot of the main events were. The place was (of course) packed, lined with booths selling food and drinks, and there was also a stage with some live performances. I took a picture of the stage, and then some random dude ran up to me, said "no pictures please," and ran away... so I took one more picture, and then we got some food. We tried a number of different things including some yakisoba, hot dog, friend chicken, beer, and also bacon. Mmm bacon. On a stick.

Then we made our way to the river side to watch the fireworks. Boy were the streets packed. Pretty much every shop on every street had some sort of stand set up selling food and drinks. When we finally got to the river though, then it REALLLY got back. A few years ago I had gone to the fireworks festival in Sumidagawa in Tokyo, which was basically a massive gathering of the most ridiculous amount of people you could ever imagine all in one area, and afterwords everyone headed toward the same direction jamming the streets. Now take what you're thinking of and multiply that number of people by 10, and thats what Sumidagawa was like. Ayu Matsuri on the other hand out here in Atsugi has lots of people, but when I was told it gets packed, in my mind I'm thinking the insanity that is Sumidagawa, but it was of course nothing like that. So even though it was SUPER packed, it felt pretty spacious considering what I had to compare it with.

Anyways, we found a spot to sit and watch the fireworks, and they sure didn't let us down. I'm told they launched 10,000 fireworks off this year. Wow. Each 'set' of fireworks was sponsored by different companies including Sony, Nissan, Odakyu (train), and NTT East Japan (Internet). My favorite was Sony where they literally launched a couple series of 4 fireworks that spelled out S-O-N-Y one after another. Other pretty cool ones included smilie faces, hearts, saturn, and butterflies. I was able to snap some cool shots of some fireworks too.

So there you have it. Finally got to a Matsuri and saw some fireworks. I'll have to see if I can't make it to a couple more before summer's up. I'm already planning on going to the Matsuri out in Oyama (where Kana lives) at the end of the month where they're supposedly firing off 20,000 fireworks. Next time I think I might go for the Yukata too. Should be fun.


Anonymous Definitely not Levy-san said...


8/14/2010 6:40 AM  
Blogger Kurisu said...

Oh man, definitely not Levy-san I totally forgot about that. I've gotta get there someday. Isn't that up north in February or something?

8/14/2010 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Still not me said...

January. Nozawa Onsen.

8/16/2010 12:47 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home