Tuesday, February 12, 2008

candy and snow

this weekend I visited some friends in a city in northern akita called odate. they had a candy festival going on, which was...delicious. There were pink candies tied into all the trees in town, and vendors sold such delectables as candied strawberries (which are a winter fruit here!). For free you could have an old man in traditional dress put a fresh liquid sugar lollipop in your mouth (of course I did!).

dried squid for sale beside the candies!

fancy lollipop gift basket

the candy god (the kid in red) and his entourage. The white ghost looking thing is a kiritanpo, rice mashed together onto a chopstick and cooked over a fire, a specialty of the area

thanks jesse, for the pics!

One of the most memorable parts of the trip occurred when Jesse and I were walking back to his apartment from the festival, on a sugar high. Now, first of all, it is pretty common practice to get shout-out's from students when out and about in town, but this was a strange instance. Two little girls saw us coming down the street, one of them had two of those plastic-ice-cream cone-with-foam-ball-attached-with-string toys. The girl not holding the ice cream cones began beckoning us "Kitte! kitte!" looking stern. We stopped, thinking they just want to say Hi!, but as we came closer we could see that the two ice cream cone things were tangled in a huge mess of a knot. One of the girls handed it to Jesse, demanding that he untangle it. While Jesse carefully began to untangle them, the girls proceeded to mock us as we talked, repeating the sounds of what we said in high pitched tones, and rooting around in our shopping bags to see what we bought. As it turns out, these little 9-yr-old bullies weren't even Jesse's students, they had just stopped some random gaijin on the street to fix their toys! When Jesse got to the root of the knot which proved near hopeless, we decided to give up and run away. But the little girls were having none of that. They ran after us, grabbing on to Jesse's coat. We complied and returned and Jesse eventually got the knot out, despite the girls' impatient yanking. We were allowed to leave, but we decided to have a little fun with them, and Jesse took one of the toys and launched the foam ice cream ball into the meaner one's face. She fake-cried for about 10 seconds before some more of their girl gang showed up to distract them so we could run away.

The next night we traveled to Lake Towada, in the northeast corner of akita. They had a mini-Sapporo Snow Festival going on (which made me feel better about missing it - next year, I promise!) that they called "Snow and Light Fantasy" which included taiko drumming, ice sculptures, shamisen playing, namahage (akita-native boogeymen monsters who scare children into being good), an igloo bar with ice glasses, and of course, fireworks.

in the ice bar

juls and me

it's a rabbit!

glass buoys lighting a path along the lake

fireworks over a snow fort

also in odate...

a giant shell! this gym had a roof made of bent wood and sheer plastic

inside the gym

a hill overlooking the town where the kanji for "dai" is imprinted (and lit on fire during daimonji festival)


Natalie said...

I quite like candies and squid myself.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sophie, Well its Valentines day here Happy Valentines day! and although I don't always remember to send birthday wishes I always remember today your birthday is near so Happy- Happy birthday Sophie a little early for the 17th. You look so great in all your blogs love it. Have fun on your special day and everyday too. Love you Aunt June and Uncle Pete