If I ever had the chance to come back to Japan, I would definitely come to Tohoku first. Don’t get me wrong! Tokyo is awesome, especially the thrift stores, but that’s not the greatest memory so far. The most impactful experience I’ve experienced so far in Japan has been what I’d call the “Tohoku love.” While in Tohoku we visited Kesennuma and Minamisanriku. There was immediate kindness upon arrival into the city. Where I am from, people don’t feel the urge to just greet each other, more specifically people they don’t know. Meanwhile in Kesennuma we were always greeted by strangers on the street involved in their everyday lives.
On the day of the Kesennuma “Minato Matsuri” Summer Festival, August 5, there was much excitement. Everywhere we went, the mention of the festival did not go unnoticed. Even the owners of the minshuku (traditional Japanese inn) where we stayed were excited about the festival. In fact, we saw the owner’s mother there too. We watched the drummers with her.
One of my favorite moments during the festival was being able to walk around freely and without worry. I got to taste yakitori for the first time. I didn’t bother to ask what it was, but it tasted like chicken on a stick. I also got to eat a chocolate gyro with my eight yakitoris. . . . Even though it constantly poured down on us and many of us lost an umbrella, that didn’t stop us all from having fun.
By the time we got to the fireworks, my shoes and socks were long gone. However, my umbrella was still standing. We sat for what felt like hours before the fireworks finally came. In that time I sat under a gas station watching entertainers such as the drummers who were well enough to drum through the storm and a woman hula hooping a ring of fire. Meaning her hula hoop was on fire around her waist!
In DC we only get to light fireworks on the fourth of July, independence Day, just like Japan. However, some fireworks are banned from being used, all the good ones. Imagine my surprise when all the fireworks being lit in Kesennuma are the ones that are the biggest! I’ve never seen so many colors and designs in one event. I’m pretty sure I saw a willow tree being created out of fireworks, or maybe I was just tired. . . . I’ve always wanted to see a good fireworks show and that day I got the chance.
Phelps ACE High School