Connie: Yukata, Fireworks, No regrets

July 6, 2011

At the university there was a festival called Yukata Matsuri, with food stands and performances all day. As I’d very much enjoyed the School Festival near the beginning of the year, I knew that wearing a yukata would only up my excitement at this event. I slept the morning away and went in the afternoon. However, I would come to regret not having gone a little bit earlier.

“I want to meet that person at least one more time.”

Apparently during the morning my Pokemon Rival from the beginning of the year was at the festival. If I’d gone, I might have been able to see him once again, but I probably won’t have that chance from now. When I found out he was there when I wasn’t I felt quite down. Earlier that day one of my friends told me, “You said you wanted to live every day without regrets, right?” I thought that moment was a prime example of me not listening to my own advice.

In the end, however, I think living without regrets isn’t always going for it. I think part of it is realizing that you have no reason to regret something. Maybe it would have been nice to go in the morning, but not for that reason. If he didn’t bother to tell me he was going, why should I care? I should care about the people who say, “Don’t worry about him,” or follow me on my silly quest to play pool in yukata, or remember small details about me after a long time apart.

The festival itself was quite crowded. The JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) had been held on the Hiroshima campus that day, leading to an influx of foreigners wandering around. Of course there were tons of students, and some people from the general area. The area of the festival itself only took up a fraction of campus, so everyone was crowded around food booths trying to get some of the delicious, fried festival foods.

I think the people in our program were the only foreigners to wear yukata or 甚平 (jinbei). This gained a lot of stares and several people taking our pictures as they passed by. Most of the people complain about that kind of attention, but I always find it kind of interesting. I would never be stared at twice in America, but here I’m fascinating. I wonder if it’s bad to enjoy the limelight while it lasts?

Almost all of our friends ended up congregating in one area. We took photos like we were in a photoshoot. I ate some of the most delicious takoyaki I’ve had here, bought from a kid who tried his very best to speak some English. I also sampled some of my friend’s チヂミ (chizimi), which is like the Korean version of okonomiyaki. All the while we could hear the a capella group performing on the nearby stage. I could hear the sound of one of our friends, a Korean guy with a very powerful voice.

After the a capella group finished the dense crowd gathered around the stage started to shuffle. I regrouped with some of my friends and we pushed our way to a place where we could see. The next show up was a fashion show, and not only did I enjoy the one I’d seen the previous semester, but one of my friends was appearing in it. He’s just about one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen, so the moment we saw him prepare to go onstage my friend and I pulled out our cameras like paparazzi.

After the fashion show was the Rhythmic Dance Circle, who are probably the most popular circle on campus. They do several kinds of dance, including hip-hop, break dancing, free-style, really anything modern that can be put to a heavy beat. They’re truly talented and tons of fun to watch. The influx of people when the circle came on was amazing. My friends and I all made sure to stay put so we wouldn’t lose our spots.

Finally, as the sky darkened around 8, there were fireworks. They only lasted a couple minutes, but they were still quite impressive. With a laugh I told everyone with me, “Happy early 4th of July!” The one British girl with us made a snide remark, naturally.

After this there was debate about what to do next. I had my mind pretty set on what I wanted to do – my favorite bar was offering a discount if you were wearing yukata. This coupled with the mental image of playing darts and pool in yukata was enough to convince me we should go. In the end most people were tired, so they returned to get some rest, particularly as it was a Sunday night. It was just three of us that went to take advantage of this discount.

It was while playing pool that I learned I’d missed my Pokemon Rival at the festival. And as I mentioned, for a bit I felt down about it, but in the end I think I can get over it. The two friends I went with are always supportive, even if I do or say stupid things. The friend who works there is always doting to some extent, even if I break their darts machines (sorry). These are the kind of people I need – they’d tell me if they went to a festival.

Actually, I’m going to miss these guys when I go back to America. I’m also going to miss those kinds of festivals. Time is running out, so I’m not going to sleep in and miss anything else!

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