Explosions by the sea

August 25, 2010

Me and Danny went to Kumano for the first time on the 17th, to see the famous fireworks show! Train ride down wasn’t so bad. I mean, it was long (4 hours, we went with local trains) but I’d been anticipating sitting on the floor or something and we got seats easily! Scenery between Taki and Kumanoshi was gorgeous. Heavy heavy green trees and mountains. Sometimes the scenery in Japan reminds me of Norway! I mean, it’s often kindof more ‘lush’ than Norway but just the sheer amount of trees and the mountains reminds me of driving through the country back home sometimes!

Anyway, got to Kumanoshi around half four. Very cute little station! Got some snacks at a konbini and debated buying a T-shirt with a Japanese milk company logo on it. They were really cool but both of us… already … own …so…many…T-shirts!

Headed for the beach. Wow it was packed! It’s a stony beach so no sandy shoes, yay! The Kumano RA, Marissa, had reserved a spot on the beach, thankfully! It was next to the lion rock which totally IS shaped like a lion! It was really crowded and although you could have seen the fireworks from pretty much anywhere it was nicer to be so close to the beach where you could actually see the reflections of the fireworks in the water. Quite a few ALTs showed up, I was mostly too sleepy/in awe of fireworks to do much talking… Chatted to Mitzi a little, said hello to some new people who I will fail to recognise if I see them again cause it was super dark and I couldn’t see so well!

Fireworks were fantastic! The sound they made echoing off the rocks was insane! It really sounded like..cannon fire or something! The fireworks in the water were great, huge plumes of light and the poor people in the little boat lighting them zipping away as each one exploded. I couldn’t help myself going ‘Ooooh!’ and ‘Aaaahh!’ all the time. I did hear one little kid shout ‘Ganbatte!’. Very cute! Do fireworks need the encouragement? Or was he talking to the people on the boats?? There were fireworks shaped like mushrooms, umbrellas, mikans, smileys and planets (No Hello Kitty though!! Will it never be??! Do they even exist?)! There were swirly ones and disco ones and ones that I thought looked like space (like star clusters, kinda!), colourful ones and glitter dust ones and golden ones and rainbow ones. Here are some photos that probably don’t do the show justice but what can I do?

Hung out on the beach for a little after the show. Chatted to Lauren for a bit then me and Danny headed off for our train. Got baby castella on the way back, yes! And as the stall was closing up she gave us tons of them, yes! Or not yes, cause of course that meant we ended up eating more of the things than we would have but whatever, they’re yum. Had to join a special queue for the train back. Train was delayed by at least half an hour..then it kept stopping (abruptly!) on the way there and just not moving for ages (I guess the delay screwed up the schedule and it had to pause for other trains to pass). Ended up being delayed by just over an hour, got back at around 4am! Um, yay! Didn’t feel too bad though, I’m impressed we got back at all! Yeah, Kumano fireworks, definitely a thing one should do while in Mie! It’s beautiful down there and the fireworks really are extra specially awe inspiring and LOUD!

Wow, I love fireworks. I do remember being a bit scared of them when I was little. I think I was also afraid for the people lighting them (sometimes, my Dad would be one of those people). I remember going to Guy Fawkes nights in Wales and thinking ‘Aaaahhh!! Run!!’ every time anyone lit a firework. I was scared of sparklers for the longest time too, purely based on those freaky adverts where a girl wearing fingerless gloves would hold her horrifically burned hands up to the camera and say something like ‘I played with sparklers. Look what happened’. I’m OK with sparklers now though, they’re fun! OK, glimpse into my childhood: over!  Fireworks: yay!

Cosplay Times

August 20, 2010

On August 31st and July 1st I went to the World Cosplay Summit 2010 in Nagoya. I guess I’d always been a little dismissive of cosplaying but since coming to Japan I’ve decided it’s actually quite cool (well, most of the time anyway…there are some aspects of it I’m less than fond of…). I was pretty excited when I found out about this event, and so nearby too!

Day One:

Headed to Nagoya with Danny and Matthew, had lunch at Boyd’s Cafe in Osu. Their scones are nice as are their lattes. Not really any vegetarian options though so I just had scones and coffee.Mm, nutritious!

The day’s events began with a red carpet mini parade featuring this year’s contestants. I wasn’t there because a) I wasn’t invited *sob!* and b) I needed a lie-in (minor hangover *sob!*). Next up was the cosplay parade, held in Osu Kannon. Goodness me, it was quite fun! I decided to dress up cause I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t.  It can be practise for the day when I finally go full on Gothic Lolita and wander around Nagoya. So anyway,  I dressed up as Mio Akiyama from K-ON! It’s a manga/anime series about a group of high school girls who form a band. Mio is the bassist and my outfit was one of her stage outfits. It was pretty much a maid outfit but as we have established, maids=cute! I’ll come right out and say it: I bought my outfit at Cospa. Real cosplayers make their own outfits but I am really terrible at sewing and I don’t have a sewing machine either. Maybe next year…

So on the way there Danny and Matthew  were joking that I’d have to watch out for photographers. “Haha”, I thought. They were right though! Standing still for a few moments seemed to make me radiate a ‘Take my photo now!’ vibe and I soon had people coming up and asking me if they could take a picture. Wow-like paparazzi! I felt too shy to feel famous. Lots of people were using their phones but some guys (only guys!) had those cameras that take zillions of pictures at once, eep! I didn’t really have any poses ready so I just did maid type poses (Whatever that means?! In my head I was thinking “Yeah, these are maid-ish”, but what do I know?!). Some girls went into little paroxysms and kept screaming “Kawaii!! Kawaii!!” at me which was pretty funny really! The parade was cool if a little weird at times because when it slowed up the cosplayers were just kind of stuck there, staring at the crowds! Some were posing and some just seemed a little confused! At the end of the day I got changed before heading back in case we bumped into anyone!

Day Two
Me and Danny arrived at Oasis 21 around 15.30. By 16.00 (3 hours til showtime) my feet were killing me (heels) and we had to go to Starbucks to sit down. It was funny to see all the cosplayers sitting around drinking frappuccinos. Baskin and Robbins seemed to be the most popular place though-the line was massive and made up entirely of cosplayers! Had my photo taken some more and ran into three other Mios! One matched me and the others were wearing two of her other outfits.

Before the show started we met up with some other friends and while Danny filmed I headed off to the observation deck above the art gallery across the road to see how the view of the stage was from there. Unfortunately to get to the observation deck we had to pass a fancy restaurant. The entrance was full of people in very posh outfits, it looked like a wedding reception or something. We were respectively wearing: shorts and a T-shirt, a yukata and a maid outfit. I couldn’t look up! I could just imagine everyone thinking “Oh foreigners! They’re so ker-ayzee!” On the way back out I noticed one of the guests holding a half empty bottle of JD. That made me feel a bit better for some reason.
The observation deck was way too hot so we soon headed back. By now it was getting dark and the sky was a dusky dark pink. Oasis 21 looks fantastic at night. It’s made to look like a spaceship and it DOES. What with all the cosplayers walking around and the lit walkways and billboards it really felt like some futuristic space town. Bladerunner crossed with a fuzzy rainbow. Caught about two thirds of the show from a staircase. The place was really packed and there was almost nowhere to go. People were crammed onto the ground floor around the stage and against the railings of every floor surrounding it.

I missed the last few contestants because I just couldn’t stand on tip toes anymore! I watched through Danny’s video screen then took a break to get mango and yuzu frappuccinos. This time I wore everything but my headband home-too tired to find somewhere to change. So to summarise: cosplay is really awfully fun and I’d do it again. Some people are just so talented at making costumes, it’s crazy/brilliant!

It’s a blur sometimes

August 16, 2010

Sometimes blurry can be beautiful.

Ishidori bam bam bam!

August 16, 2010

Oops, another big gap! My excuse this time: after Summer Sonic last weekend I kept falling asleep! Pathetic, I know…

So anyway, Ishidori!

It’s Kuwana’s biggest festival (I think!), also dubbed ‘The noisiest festival in Japan’ thanks to the relentless three day drumming/gong banging. It’s a fun festival. We only really went out properly on one of the three nights this year. Got dressed up in yukata and everything. After a day wearing a maid outfit (for the World Cosplay Summit) my poor body was moaning ‘A yukata? Really? Can’t I just go out in something silky and non-restrictive and team it with fluffy slippers?’ ‘Na, sorry!’, I replied as I wrapped myself up tightly in a stiff cotton robe and put on my geta or ‘Hell shoes’ as I like to call them. Geta are like wooden flip flops with an embroidered piece of cloth that goes between your toes. Sounds comfy, right?? This year I wore them with tabi which are special socks with a gap for the thong of the geta to fit into. Last year I went barefoot and came home bleeding all over the place so…yeah, glad I got the socks this time… Once I’m actually IN the yukata, it’s cool, I like wearing the things. It’s just the getting them on part that’s a bit fiddly. Some photos:

We met up with our friend and her son at one of the local shrines. The atmosphere was really nice and all the lanterns looked great against the night sky. One house was right up against one of the gates to the shrine. The people in the house had opened the windows and it looked so welcoming and bright. I really wanted to go and sit there! (Side note: Seeing nice houses makes me feel really homesick while simultaeneously making me long desperately for the day when I (hopefully!) live in a real house that I own and not a rented flat). Anyway…we followed the float for a little then me, Danny and Matthew made our way back to the main area. We stopped to look at a few floats on the way. Three had stopped in the middle of the main road right in front of Tully’s coffeeshop. It just looked so great: these living relics all lit up and the shops in darkness around them. It was like the past reaching into the future and having a party all over it. As a bonus we also saw a teeny tiny little boy being helped to play one of the drums! Very cute! When we got to the main area all the stalls were shutting down! No way! No baby castella for me! I was very sad. I’ll have to go to another festival now, I need baby castella! Met some other friends, saw some kind of fighting/posturing going on by the old shopping arcade then went to Kasuga shrine (deserted!) to take some photos. Then home, then exhausted sleep.