One of the things that I love most about Japan is the fact that there always seems to be some random festival being held. Whether it’s based around food (like Oma’s annual tuna festival), nature (such as Hirosaki’s autumnal foliage festival), or simply taking to the streets to dance the night away (here’s looking at you, Nebuta), Japan has countless festivals throughout the year.
Though some are about as culturally traditional as you can get, newer festivals still pop up all over the place. This past weekend, I make the trip to one such event: the 8th annual Oirase Salmon (sake, 鮭) Festival. Oirase’s one of the smaller towns in Aomori; anytime I hear the name, I automatically think of “Oirase Gorge,” which is actually about 45 kilometers from the town itself. Continue reading Channeling My Inner Grizzly Bear: おいらせ町 鮭 まつり→
Throughout my time in Japan, I’ve happened upon some pretty hilarious, entertaining, and just all-around intriguing signs. This is a collection of some of my favorites. There’s no real unifying theme or fact that applies to them all. They’re from various different prefectures throughout Japan and call attention to everything from proper etiquette for interacting with deer to a “real” American burger. The humor in a fair number of them comes from their English translations, but some are amusing regardless of the language. Continue reading Just Give Me a Sign→
Autumn’s by far my favorite season, and Japan’s version is one of the most beautiful I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. It may be short and fleeting, but autumn in northern Japan still provides you with enough signs to let you know it’s arrived in all of its full-blown, scarlet-leaved glory.
I like to think that Coaches Patterson and Donovan, my junior high cross country coaches, would have be proud of me. As I mentioned in this post, it wasn’t until the past eighteen months or so that running became a regular part of my life. Six months ago, running even two miles without pause was beyond me, but during the first weekend of October, I successfully completed the 10K race in the annual Hirosaki Apple Marathon. When I’d originally signed up, I’d flirted with the idea of running the half marathon. While I probably could have done it, I likely would’ve kept up a steady inner monologue of choice expletives, so I’m pretty satisfied with having finished the 10K. Continue reading 2013 Hirosaki Apple Marathon→
Another year, another field trip. This past Monday was Aomori High School’s annual school excursion. I wrote about it last year, but seeing as I rarely miss out on a chance to gush about eating delicious food with my kids, I couldn’t resist writing about this year’s trip, too.
Most of the teachers move through the grades as the students do, meaning that the graduating seniors will have been taught by the same teachers for three years when they leave for college. I, however, am forever stuck with the first-year students, which means this year’s trip was basically a repeat of last year’s. Not that I’m complaining. It gives me a chance to get to know my students outside of class. And even if there weren’t massive amounts of food involved, I’d love it just for the view. Continue reading Throw Some Curry on the Barbecue→
I’ve never been one of those people who truly love summer. When I was in high school and college, it meant working twelve- or fifteen-hour days. At W&J, I was (and still am) enough of a nerd that I actually genuinely enjoyed academia, so three months away from lectures about British Romanticism and the like seemed to last forever. The thing that most strongly contributes to my dislike of summer, though, is the heat. Hot weather and I don’t get along so well; I tend to turn a nice shade of radioactive lobster red after being out in the sun for any extended period of time. I’d be perfectly content living somewhere that has nine months of fall, thanks very much. A month of the other seasons – most importantly, summer – would be just fine in my book.
In Aomori, though, I have to admit that I’ve become fonder of summer in the past few years. (Despite the overwhelming lack of air conditioning.) And it’s because of one thing: ねぶた (Nebuta).