Himatsuri is a festival held in a small town at the base of Mount Fuji called Fujiyoshida. The festival is centred around the Sengen Fuji shrine, in which a deity is enshrined. On this one night she is shown the town, by means of being carted around on a float, so that she decides not to let Fuji erupt for another year. A worthwhile premise for a party, if ever I heard one.
Along the streets of the town, every ten metres or so, fires had been constructed in the middle of the road. Lining the roads were stalls selling the usual festival fare – shaved ice, takoyaki, yakisoba, etc. and traditional Japanese and Western games, such as goldfish catching and target shooting (suspect the Americans introduced that one). There were loads of people, and the totally unprotected fires rained ash and burning bits on us as we scurried past trying not to get cooked in their inferno. Health and safety? What health and safety?! Yay burning!
We armed ourselves with cans of Strong 7 from the konbini and wandered around the streets chatting and making a half-hearted effort to meet up with another bunch of friends. Frankly I was just happy to see Rachel and Evie again after so long (since training in Narita in March). It was great to see a fellow Brit now that Laura has gone home, and Evie, being New Zealandish, is close enough to being a Brit for me! (I always think of New Zealanders and Canadians as our closest relatives, for some reason. In the same way that I think only communists have mustache’s, there is no logical nor politically correct reason for this.)
Here is Evie and I, looking hot, no? (Sorry.)
We met three burly Japanese guys in reggae t-shirts playing a game where you have to carve out a shape from a cracker using a drawing pin. If succesful you can win money. We weren’t, but we did get given free beers by the stall owner. The three guys were obviously big stoners (one described himself as a weed farmer and had spent a year living in Amsterdam). I have to say it was surprising to meet people whose attitude to weed echos that of the UK, and who don’t let the government’s communist-style “Drugs are evil” rhetoric scare the bejeezus out of them. Also, they kept saying “bombaclaat“, which is funny enough when it comes out of the mouth of an Asian Rudebwoy from Manchester, but hilarious when it’s uttered by a Japanese person.
We ended up staying in the apartment of a JET teacher who lived in the town. He had an amazing three-room tatami-matted place for which he paid six thousand yen a month. Curse those JET’s and their subsidised accomodation! And to rub it in further, this was the view from his living room, of Fuji-san in all her splendor:
One of the reasons for making the stopover was that I had hoped it would break up the return journey from Tokyo to home. Of course this wasn’t the case at all – I had to get up early to catch a 9.30 train, arrived at Nagoya at 18.17 and then went straight to the dojo.
The journey did yield one interesting thing though, which I shall show you next post.