October 31, 2008

Let's Come Together to Celebrate...Tuna!!!

I spent Sunday, October 26 at Misaki Port--a few kilometers from my childhood stomping grounds--in a fish market turned festival. From what I understand, this is the first year that Misaki city has held a Tuna Fest but it was an awesome one! There were contests, sponsors, vendors and local entertainment that made for a fun, tuna-ingesting, day!

I ate several things including: tuna pizza (no joke,) raw tuna (sashimi,) tuna soup, tuna pot stickers (gyoza,) tuna sushi rolls (tekamaki,) and tuna fries!

Guess the weight! I submitted 252 kilos but this soon-to-be-a-piece-of-sushi was actually 312 kilos!
In addition to tuna, lots of other seafood was on sale including these squid which were being sold as-is or grilled and eaten on a stick.

I won a slab of tuna!!!
For 500 yen ($5) you got to pull one of a bunch of strings that ran through a pvc pipe. from the other end, the strings were attached to various prizes (box of sweet potatoes, dried aji fish, slab of salmon, mochi (pounded and dried rice blocks) wearing tee shirts, etc. The big prize was a valuable slab of maguro. I couldn't make up my mind and I had enamoto's son help me. Minamo picked the tuna which is chillin in my freezer until Matt comes home to cook it!
Misaki Port, Misaki Shi, Japan

October 20, 2008

Yokosuka Mikoshi (Portable Shrine) Parade
Wow! I'm glad I finally dragged myself to Yokosuka Naval Base to see it! I've been to neighborhood matsuris where at most-I saw three mikoshi portable shrines accompanied by a few taiko drummers. But this is totally different! All the neighborhoods in Yokosuka city are invited to parade together beginning around the Yokosuka Chuo train station, down the main street before entering the base's smaller gate and continuing to where the festivities are, next to the Bowling Center.
There's a lot of noise, food booths on and off base and a truly fun crowd interested in experiencing and sharing each others' foreign culture. It gave me happy vibes as me and my friends, Tomo and Masumi, wandered around eating hamburgers and interacting with base visitors. One leader even grabbed me and tossed me into the line of people carrying the mikoshi. After a few bumpy minutes, I thanked him and resumed spectating, (I already did my mikoshi duties last year for three grueling city blocks, thanks!) I was also really stoked to see a lot of Americans. I'm guessing many are newbies that were wondering what the heck a mikoshi was because I answered a few curious gaijin's questions.
74 mikoshis in all were spiritfully carried before ending up in a parking lot. Behind me there are dozens of them still beating drums while in front of us, the parade continued for hours. Here's a video that captures the mayhem:

Yokosuka Naval Base, Yokosuka, Japan