Every year at Atsuta Shrine, there is a huge matsuri (festival) held in and around the shrine area. It is called the Rei Sai Matsuri, and it’s the first major festival of the season, and it also happened to be my very first real matsuri!
As usual, we got a big group together, got all dressed up (some even in yukata!) and made our way to the festival. Of course, our group got separated when some people wanted to find real food to eat for dinner or something like that, so we ended up doing lots of waiting around, but eventually we made it to the right place! And so had the rest of Japan, it seemed! This place was packed. The road leading up to the shrine’s entrance was lined with various stalls selling different festival foods, like yakisoba, takoyaki, candy apples, and even…churros?! I was fairly surprised to see those show up in one lone stall that I had to snap a picture as I was being carried away by the river of people.
We eventually made out way to the actual shrine where we got to see some performances and met a…very peculiar man. It was a bizarre encounter. I’m sure the guy was just drunk or something (or maybe he was just a full-blown creeper), but he approached our group doing an odd little dance, arms above his head as he took jerky little steps, and began speaking to us about his love for…American breasts. Yep. All of us feigned ignorance of the Japanese language and got away as quickly as possible, not really bothering to hide our disgust, but one guy in our group somehow got trapped in a conversation with the man. We eventually all made our escape, though.
I’ll just leave this here . . .
After that experience, we watched a group of men pick up the festival float thing and carry it around, got some snacks, and then tried to figure out a good location for viewing the firework show that was soon about to start. However, by this time, it was somehow even more packed, and our group fragmented apart. I ended up with just Kim, and we waddled through the crowds trying to find a place to sit. We ended up getting lost and leaving the shrine area altogether somehow, but we figured that we’d be able to see the fireworks anyway! However, when they began shooting the fireworks off, we couldn’t see a thing! We tried to follow the noise of the blasts to get a better view, but the booms were echoing off of buildings and we couldn’t find the fireworks at all! They were apparently the lowest fireworks ever! Finally, near the end of the hour-long show, we found a place in the middle of the shrine where we could see glimmers of light through the trees! It was pretty pathetic…I totally failed at my first matsuri fireworks show! However, unlike in America where you shoot off fireworks once or twice a year, Japan brings out the fireworks for almost any event!