July 19, 2008

Ashiya Summer Carnival & Fireworks

I spent pretty much all day Saturday at Ashiya Park and Beach, the site of the Ashiya Summer Carnival. (I had discovered Ashiya Beach a couple of weeks ago while on a long bike ride.)

A co-worker had told me about a festival with fireworks in Ashiya this weekend and so I decided to check it out, again biking out to Ashiya. This was a classic summer matsuri - jam packed with people, many sporting brightly colored traditional yukata, tons of carnival foods, varied musical entertainment (more on this below...I went a little nuts with the video camera), all culminating with a great fireworks display. I spent all day there.

The best part was the entertainment. The "main stage" had more "pop" artists -bad J-Pop mostly, that is, with the exception of a very talented Korean pianist named Jyongri- since it was sponsored by a local radio station. But the side stage was a gold-mine of great performances ranging from a dixieland band (playing such classics as "You Are My Sunshine" and "Sweet Georgia Brown"), to an a capella group called Voice of Mind (they did a rendition of "You've Got A Friend"), to a guitar-team doing Beatles songs, to a young lady keyboardist that reminded me a bit of Tori Amos, to breakdancers, jugglers, and streamer twirlers. Here are some videos of the talent. You tell me in the comments who you liked the best.


(make sure to watch through the big piano riff at the end, which I love)

Streamer Twirler
(starts off slow, but make sure to watch when he kicks it in!)

As the sun set, I headed to the beach (along with thousands of others). As I would later realize when leaving, by the time the fireworks EVERYONE in Ashiya and then some was in the park or its surroundings. There was not an empty spot on the beach, in the park, or in the streets and bridges with views of the fireworks. Turns out that Japanese people really come out for hanabi.

I leave you with this last video of the fireworks. I found that fireworks in Japan are quieter and less overwhelming than fireworks back home. The pace was slower and calmer. It was more about beauty than power. As you will surely notice if you watch the clip through to the end, the crowd was really into the fireworks. (the one Japanese word you will need to know for this clip is "segoi!," an oft-used and handy expression that means wonderful/cool/awesome/nifty):

Oh - and here is one last item - randomly funny Japanese t-shirt (there were many to choose from today, but this is a winner):


jackaw said...

Wow! You miss a cuppla weeks and you are so far behind it's almost impossible to catch up. Great carnival. The videos are 'awesome'.

While reading through all I missed, I noted Lauren playing golf. Ask Jacob about cleaning Jack's clubs! The kids are growing up! (Or maybe I am....)

Still an interesting and welcome blog. Glad to share it with you; glad for the few days together; happy about David and Heather; happy to be part of your lives.

love ya all~

Mike said...

Thanks for the comment!