It’s crazy to think that this is our third year attending our village’s biggest festival of the summer. I still remember vividly our first year: a roughly-one-hour walk through the rain to the venue. And last year, I got to try on a yukata for the first time! The tradition continues this year…
Although, it is the same yukata design as last year. xD But I really liked the color of the obi this year! It reminded me of sunflowers- a perfect symbol of summer here!
Just like last year, there were food and game stalls that lined the outer field and a small stage in the center where the performances were held. Performances this year consisted of the village hula group, a young pianist, and a popular Enka singer (she was at the Bridge Festival this year and last year) who just got all the adoration from her older fans xD Trevor got to have a special encounter with her as she was making her way around her crowd, giving each of her observers a hand shake or a solo in throughout her performance. When she got up to him and realized there was a foreigner standing in front of her, she happily shook Trevor’s hand and said aloud “Nice to meet you!” in English!
As far as food goes, surprisingly, the two of us didn’t have much. We had karaage, takoyaki, chuuhai (Trevor), and juice (the non-alcoholic version for me) but what we were super excited about was… the jerk chicken!!! Trevor and I first witnessed this food stall that stood out from the typical Japanese street food stands at last year’s Culture Festival. At the time we arrived during the Culture Festival, the jerk chicken was already sold out 😦 We did have festivals though, and I really liked them! (They’re like fried pieces of corn bread- I was secretly hoping they’d be selling them again for the Summer Festival but it was only chicken this year) We saw them again at the Bridge Festival but then they were sold out of chicken as well… But third time’s the charm and we finally got to try it!!
Sometimes I don’t like chicken. People tend to overcook it and it results into this super dry, flaky, and flavorless mess. But wow, this jerk chicken? The complete opposite of what I just listed. It was absolutely delicious!! So tender and succulent. Thinking back on it is making me drool…
The jerk chicken was so good, I asked the grillmaster (let’s call him that, he was pro after all) if they had a restaurant and it turns out that they didn’t… they come out specifically for festivals. Sad… Explains why nothing popped up on Google Maps whenever I typed “Collie Yard,” the name of their stand.
I ran into many of my students, and one (who is now living in Ehime prefecture) instantly recognized me, even though I only had him for two semesters my first year! I always enjoy seeing my students outside the classroom- they’re always much more relaxed and themselves. Including the student I just mentioned, I also saw other past kids of mine who are now attending schools in different parts of the prefecture! So nice to see familiar faces again.
The night ended with… of course, fireworks! Concluding another summer in this quaint and secluded mountainous village.
Did I mention the mochi throwing?! They did that again this year. Kassondra (the new ALT for the elementary schools and junior high school) and I caught a couple mochi- some of them as big as your face!
I’m not a huge fan of plain mochi. At home, I tried warming a piece in the microwave but even after that, I felt like I was eating sad and empty calories. So I cut the rest of the mochi I brought home (including a bag given to Trevor from a random festival goer!) to dry and then eventually fry into crackers! Mottainai at its finest. Let’s hope it works…!