Summer in Nagoya is both SO enjoyable, but at the same time, not. I’m just going to get the “not enjoyable” part out of the way. The heat! It’s disgusting. Pointless to shower. I will not let guests come to visit during July or August. Okay, I feel better now (plus it’s October so I can start to be less miserable due to the heat). On to the lively, tasty, enjoyable parts of summer in Nagoya!
Matsuri’s (Festivals). I LOVE everything about matsuri’s! (Except for maybe the octopus on a stick). I’m obsessed with my Yukata’s, which I enthusiastically rock at every chance I’m given, which includes matsuri’s. A Yukata is a cotton summer kimono. I completed my hand-sewn one this past June, so I’ve gotten to wear it a few times this summer! At these matsuri’s, you have most things you’d expect at a festival, but with a Japanese twist of course! Festival food… Karaage (fried chicken), spiral fried potatoes, candied fruit, grilled soba noodles, and most importantly (in my opinion), shaved ice! Man oh man the shaved ice here exceeds any expectations from American shaved ice. It melts in your mouth haha. [It’s ice, so obviously it does, Katie] BUT it’s the fluffy, light, flavor packed, not-too-sugary kind of shaved ice. I have a confession: when I was at the water park for the first time this past summer, I tasted one of the best mango shaved ice I’ve had yet. It was THAT good, that once I finished the whole mango one by myself, 20 mins later I was standing in line to order a chocolate shaved ice. Don’t judge.
One of my first experiences of a Japanese summer matsuri included a typhoon. Last summer, two of my friends invited me to go to the big Gion matsuri in Kyoto, one of the oldest and most famous festivals in the country. The weather forecast called for a chance of a typhoon, but that didn’t scare my friends. We put on our rain boots, grabbed our strongest umbrellas and hopped on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to stay for one night. I soon found myself walking between bus stops in gusts of heavy winds and a downpour of rain following my friends as we ran to shelter. We struggled to keep our umbrellas from not turning inside out as we chaotically jumped on the bus with wind blown hair and soaked clothing. Of course, once on the bus, we observed the usual Japanese women who managed to continue looking polished and put together as the loud drenched foreigners stood at the front causing quite the scene. Another “memory” of that trip was when I was dragging around my rolling suitcase through the bumpy, uneven, over crowded festival streets of Kyoto once the rain let up. I am proud to say I’ve learned how to pack lighter over the past year.
Just a few weeks ago, we attended a matsuri with mechanical puppet floats. Boy do I wish I knew more about the meaning behind traditions like this!
Hanabi (fireworks). Usually occurring at the end of a festival weekend,
are these amazing firework displays that can last 1-2 hours. The first fireworks I saw I was “ohh-ing” and “awe-ing,” as the quality was as good as a grand finale back home but it was the entire show!
Entertainment: Bon dancing, taiko, and more. Traditional festival dancing around in a circle with graceful steps, turns, waves, and gentle claps. I had the opportunity to learn Bon dancing at a CCEA matsuri this past June. It was so much fun, and relaxing to dance along with others! Taiko is another Japanese tradition which involves beautiful (and expensive) drums, choreography, and thrilling performances. I’ve also had the privilege to try this recently and had a blast! Watch our Matsuri Bon Dancing HERE
Beaches, water parks, protection from the sun. They go all out for beach parties here. Huge speakers blasting rap music (no one understands the swear words so it is acceptable around Japanese children apparently), bring your own grill, tents for shade, and more. Almost like a mini camp site for the day.
My water park experience this past summer was more different from the US than I expected. You must bring your own chairs and rafts to the park, or pay $40+ to purchase an inflatable there. I enjoyed the shallow pools of water to walk through to rinse your feet off after leaving the pool areas before entering bathrooms or the locker room.People protect themselves from the sun and can be found wearing pants, long sleeves and hats in the water. Staying pale is seen as more beautiful here.
Beer gardens. Open usually April-October. Outdoor beer gardens with all you can eat bbq and all you can drink for about 2 hours. A department store near our house has a rooftop beer garden that I dragged my parents to last October when they visited! My first birthday in Japan in 2015, while we were on our home finding trip, was celebrating as a surprise party at a beer garden!
Those are just a few of my favorite things about summer and some memories we’ve made during the hot months here. I’ll try to do better at posting more frequently, gommen ne (sorry!)! Next post will be on our most recent international trip- Malaysia!
Ja Mata, friends.