Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Golden Weekend

Lady luck is a fickle mistress. But she seemed to smile upon us this past weekend. Things just seemed to work out in our favor. It amazes me how golden our weekend ended up. And this coming from a guy who usually says, "If it weren't for bad luck; I'd have no luck at all."

Friday night we started our weekend off on a fun note. We ate pizza. We were feeling a little bored with some of our food choices, so we decided, on the fly, to have pizza. We were wandering the streets of our fair city with a rumbling in our bellies. With each advancing step our hunger grew. The signs hanging above the doorways didn't entice us in to the restaurants. The pictures and food models in the windows seemed more to repel us, push us away. The food we eat and love eating just did not appeal to us. We found ourselves at our favorite pizza joint. We ordered a couple of pies to go. Comfort food of sorts. Japanese food is different. It is the same basic principle, but it is different none the less. Our first pizza was the Potato and Corn. It was covered in ham, potato, corn, and onions with fresh cracked black pepper on top. The other pizza was a BBQ beef with onions, peppers, and tender juicy beef. Topped off with a bit of yellow mustard it made for a delicious meal. Washed down with a nice big glass of Coca-Cola it was a very satisfying meal.

The golden times did not end with a great meal. Saturday we decided, quite on a whim, to travel up to the city of Nagahama. Nagahama is about thirty minutes north of us and we had no idea what the town held in store for us. We were pleasantly surprised to find we stumbled into an art fair. We wandered around what might be considered to be the town square. We took time to watch the artisans at work and we looked at all the wares. There seemed to be a nice sized art community located in the town. We went on the right day. Unknowingly we struck upon the annual "Art in Nagahama" event. We had only gone to look around the town to see what there was to see and we found gold. I ended up purchasing a sake drinking set. I found a beautiful pitcher and five cups that match. I can hardly wait to share some rice wine with my family and friends when we return. We enjoyed looking at all the beautiful crafts and handiworks that were produced by local artisans. But in the end it was the crowd that did us in. We have done well with crowds living here in Japan, but this last weekend was too much. Too many people pushing and shoving trying to get at too little space. By the time we returned home we were glad to be home.

Sunday was the day of the big Otsu Matsuri. We had been planning to go to this festival in the capital city for several weeks. We resisted some peer pressure from our neighbors and did not go to the big Omihachiman sports day. Instead we headed off to travel down the coast of Lake Biwa to the grand city of Otsu. We were unsure of where the festival was located. We decided to stick with our tried and true adage of living in Japan, "when in doubt, follow the crowd." This day again the crowd did not let us down. The lines of people can be annoying and frustrating at the best of times, can make it next to impossible to get the photo you were framing up, but when you don't know where to go just follow the line and nine times out of ten you will end up where you want to be. And that tenth time, well, you will probably end up some place better than your original plan. The Otsu Matsuri was very similar to the Gion Matsuri. It was a lot smaller. But the end result of the smaller festival was that it was much more fun. The giant floats would stop and throw small bundles of rice straw called chimaki, the people would also chat with the spectators. Many of the people accompanying the various floats would stop and speak with us. We went home with several bundles of chimaki and about six towels that were part of the celebration. To top it all off we managed to end up at our favorite burger restaurant, Mos Burger. Nothing tastes better after a long day of watching giant floats being pulled by drunken men than a chili cheese burger.

The fun did not end on Sunday evening. Good weekends only get better when accompanied by these three words, THREE DAY WEEKEND!! No work on Monday. We spent the day hanging out and relaxing. Definitely a great weekend.

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