Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In the local haps...

The second weekend in November of '09 I worked the boot rental stand at the annual Oirase Town Salmon Festival. (For those who know, it bore a passing resemblance to Rio Vista's Bass Festival, with about the same level of notoriety.) I helped greet visitors to the festival as they rented knee-high rubber boots (which I'm wearing, as pictured below) and waist-high waders for use during the salmon catch, the day's crowning event.

These fine ladies were two of the workers who helped in taking money at the boot rental tent. The other men and I (or the "Mennonites," if you will) busied ourselves with fetching properly sized pairs of waterproof foot-and-leg-wear for the customers. It was a brisk and blithe business, punctuated by bursts of blustery wind buffeting our soon-to-be battered and bitterly cold bivouac. (Whew!) The rain did come down hard during short grab-the-tent-and-man-the-pitons periods. At least once I thought our tent would up-end and fly away.

Above, you can see a group herding the remaining salmon with planks and boards into a smaller area for ease of capture.

During the aforementioned catching of the salmon, participants are asked to step into the wading pond – with little more than maybe a pair of rented gloves, a plastic sack, and a camera to catch the action – before awaiting the signal to go. After that, it's up to a little bit of luck, a fair amount of daring, and the fickle fate of the fish to be yours as you go about trying to catch one by hand! It's not easy, and it's not all that hard, but if there's one thing for sure these suckers have teeth! They're mean little sons-of-upriver-spawners. The fellow pictured above in the center almost found out the hard way as he struggled with his catch. Below you might see a couple of those that got away, only temporarily avoiding their eventual fate on someone's dinner table.

Jumping ahead, I snapped this next picture (below) on the 10th of March, during the Kinoshita Chugakkou (Junior High School) Graduation Ceremony. It shows only the stage area for the ceremony, which lasted about ninety minutes and saw at least 80 students ascend the steps here to receive their certificate of completion. (Alas, no shots of the staff nor students themselves as per the privacy agreement I've made.)

I also got to attend a nice potluck banquet/cultural exchange/dinner theater the second Sunday in March. I enjoyed a nice round of ryokucha (green tea) prepared in the traditional Japanese style, partook of a veritable schmorgesborg of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Western foods, and watched a variety of short skits and performances put on by local students, teachers, and workers. One of the best was a traditional Japanese dance, (put on by Melissa, an ALT from Towada), as seen below.

Not bad, eh? It's been a groovy eight months so far! Here's hoping my next 15 are! Be sure to leave a comment if you have a question about anything. Up next! A recap of my trip to Tokyo.