Yukata Matsuri

This past weekend was the three day festival, Yukata Matsuri. Due to the price of commuting to the city, I only went on Saturday. I sort of regret not going every day, but I suppose there’s no point in regretting it now. Though I wish I could have seen more, the simple atmosphere of Japanese festivals pleases me enough. It’s a feeling completely different from street festivals in the United States. Perhaps it’s because the festivals always feel distinctly Japanese – there’s always something pointing back toward traditional culture integrated into the festivities.

We were to depart at 3. I started the task of putting on the yukata I’d previously purchased at Miyajima around 2. It took me until 2:30 to get the thing on, and though I really wanted to redo some parts, I knew I would have no time if I was going to make the bus. To be honest I was slightly nervous about going out for the first time in a yukata I’d tied by myself. One of the friends I went with does Japanese dance as a hobby and is particular about the way people wear traditional Japanese clothing. I was scared I’d done something wrong – made some dumb mistake – but when my friend saw me he actually did the opposite of what I’d expected and complimented the job I’d done my first time tying a yukata.

To be perfectly honest, the day was full of mishaps. We had to wait for one of our friends at the station for quite some time, so we didn’t make it into the city until 5. The trams running along the streets of Hiroshima city were incredibly packed – there was some kid uncomfortable close on the train whose parents had to literally hold his hands down so he wouldn’t touch me. When we reached our destination we were feeling fairly good and wanted to partake in some festival food – 唐揚げ (karage), or fried chicken, was our first stop. That was all fine and good until one of our friends started to choke on it and seemed quite peeved that none of us knew what to do in that kind of situation. I suppose I should learn the Heimlich before the next festival?

This bit of bad luck was all forgotten when we stopped to get crepes and snow cones. Sweets make it all better! Our moods were back to normal and we were admiring all of the people in yukata. As always, people-watching in Japan is fantastic. Since the festival was near the shady district of Hiroshima, when you wandered in the right area you would suddenly be surrounded by girls very improperly wearing their yukata, with their shoulders and cleavage exposed, or host-types with mile-high dyed hair and designer obi. Of course you also have normal people, college students, families with fathers carrying tired children, and for some reason Yukata Matsuri also translates in some girls’ heads to lolita fashion, apparently. Most of what we did was people-watch and eat. The dances we came across were too packed with people to see anything properly. A shame, since they did one dance I really enjoy, ソーラン節(Soran Bushi).

Out of the group of us, only two were dressed in Western clothing. One was a girl who had yet to buy a yukata, so we went with her to the shopping district, Hondoori, to find a kimono shop. The other was a Japanese guy, so we kept making fun of him for the irony in him being the only one not to wear a yukata.

It was as we entered the shopping district that I saw someone I’d asked to the festival was on a date with someone else. My mood dropped.

Luckily everyone else was put in a better mood by the beautiful yukata my friend purchased. The workers in the store were all very sweet older women. When my friend bought her yukata, one of the women took her to a changing room and dressed her up perfectly. While we were waiting, one of the other women offered to retie another of our friends’ obi. The knot she did was intricate and beautiful – we were all in awe. When the girl who bought the yukata returned we were also in awe. It was a really colorful yukata, matching her usual style.

After leaving the shop, all but our one Japanese friend clad in yukata, we went to find an izakaya to get some food and drinks at. I think at least two of the people with us were slightly disappointed that we didn’t get to experience more of the festival. The food was good though – cheese filled mochi is absolutely delicious.

We decided to head back toward home after this since we didn’t want to risk missing the last train. Turns out our friend, the one who does dance as a hobby, had accidentally fallen asleep on the last train the night before and ended up spending the night in the miniscule station two stops beyond Saijo. We didn’t want to risk that scenario again.

On the train we learned a valuable lesson – our poor friend who had purchased the yukata found out that having an obi tied too tightly can become really painful. The pressure on her stomach made her sick, especially on the swaying train. It was a relief for her to get off the bumpy train and untie the obi.

Not the best of our festival experiences, but I have no regrets in going (other than that I didn’t go every day). I got to see many interesting people, wear a yukata, eat lots of delicious food, and somewhere in there I managed to take a picture with a wandering host.

There is another Yukata Matsuri put on by Hiroshima University in July. I’m really looking forward to that! Hopefully it will be a bit more of a success.

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~ by megumiwasframed on June 6, 2011.

11 Responses to “Yukata Matsuri”

  1. I think it looks good on you.
    I wish your having a lot of fun in Japan.

  2. Yukata, kawaii and kakkoii!!

    karage -> karaage is right.
    Honodori -> Bonodori is right.

    ^o^/

  3. 日本からです。
    皆さんとても浴衣が似合いますね。美しいです。
    日本は今、困難な時をむかえています。町で外国の方を見かけるととってもうれしくなります。
    日本では外国の方の浴衣はとっても和みますし、歓迎されてます。
    英語は苦手で日本語で申し訳ありません。
    是非また日本にいらして下さい。

    • 留学中だったんですね。失礼しました。

      • コメント本当にありがとうございます!

        そうですね、地震の事で困難です。アメリカの大学は帰った方がいいというのメールが来たけど、絶対に早く帰りたくないです。私は安全の広島に住んでいるが、東北のために何かをしたいけど…外人として、何ができるかは難しい問題です。でもそういう事だけでうれしいなら、私もうれしいですよ!

  4. ようこそ 日本へ!

    日本の文化を紹介してくれてありがとう!

    たのしんでもらたようでよかったです。

  5. 浴衣を着ると、日本人でも高揚感があります。
    日本文化を沢山感じとって、楽しく有意義な時間をお過ごしください。

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