I’ve been sitting here for several minutes trying to think of an amusing title for this entry; sadly, this is the best my brain could come up with. (Various earlier choices included “Three amigos” & “Saiko Taiko (& other Japanese goodness)”.
Got an early start & made it fairly easily to charaxinae
‘s. Hung out with her ‘til she finished getting ready (I was earlier than expected, but I’ve never driven to her place, so I left in plenty of time in case I got lost), then she drove us down to Philadelphia, where we me up with tarotbydiana
, who showed us the easiest way to get to the pick-up point for the shuttle bus that would cart us off to the lovely park where we would be immersing ourselves in J-ness for the whole afternoon.
Though we made good time, we missed the first bus - there were so many people (& more gathering behind us), I don’t think they quite expected this kind of turnout! The festival actually runs for a few weeks, but today being “Sakura Sunday”, I think everybody came today ‘cuz you could get kind of a taste of everything in one afternoon rather than trying to make it during the week with work & traffic & such.
Once the bus came for us (after we stood around in the chilly wind trying to keep our dresses down & our ears warm, & I took a few photos of historic buildings), there was another problem - there were still so many people, a few were tripling up on seats meant to hold only 2. Happily, I reaped the benefit of this - tarotbydiana
sweetly offered me the use of her lap, since I was hanging off the seat when we tried all sitting side by side. She’s not only comfortable, but thoughtful, too, holding onto me when we hit bumps in the road or came to a quick stop, so I wouldn’t fly off into the aisle, or into the lap of the good-looking Asian guy (given the way he spoke to his companions, I think he was Chinese) in the seat in front of us. ^_^
Got to the park, disembarked, & walked about a bit, scoping things out. Decided to eat first, then take in the sights, shopping, & events. Of course, the food line was quite long, though I got in a few photos & video clips while we were waiting, & I got to say hi to Kevin & his girlfriend, Christine, who were passing by.
They were running out of certain menu items by the time we got up there, but we still managed to find good things to snarf. I got a cup of miso soup with tofu & kelp, some sushi (they were out of Inari so I got the California roll), & chicken with vegetable rice. (Also got to use a teensy bit of our Japanese to thank the woman who served us.) We sat under a cherry-blossom tree (tarotbydiana
brought a blanket for us to sit on - so prepared, this girl!) & ate & talked (charaxinae
kept getting “menaced” by a low-hanging branch, though I think it was just trying to be friendly), watching as people in kimono & cosplay coasted by (not to mention that person in the Maggie Moo costume, & a guy dressed as Alice in Wonderland), the sounds of soft J-pop & energetic Taiko drumming drifting toward us from different directions.
After lunch, we sauntered over toward the J-pop stage, where I took more clips as a girl was singing prettily & playing acoustic guitar. There’s some shaky video as I’m walking & filming at the same time, but you can hear some of the song & quickly see the cosplayers dancing with each other (I think there were some Chobits & Naruto). Nearby was a kimono stand where I bought 2 fabric panels I’m hoping could be used as obi (sashes) for my kimono. They’re quite pretty, & the colours fit in with what Toshie suggested: matching the obi to the deep, reddish tones in the floral pattern rather than going for the obvious blue of the more prominent flowers.
Next, we took a quick walk through the greenhouse (I took video clips - it really was a quick walk), & around the Japanese tea house & garden. It was really pretty, a bit like the gardens at the Heian Shrine in Kyoto. And like Heian, they had a Koi pond, too! Took a few shots there, & a few shots on the way back to the main grounds, where we watched a little of the martial arts/swordsmanship demonstration (got a bit of that on video), picked up some dessert - light, soft, fluffy things (the Japanese are so good at fluffy!) like maple bread & chocolate cake (at which time, we got to use more of our language skills) - then made our way toward the stage where the Taiko drum & dance performance was due for its second showing, though not before a cool-looking fellow (one of a group of Cool People we’d seen there at various times in the day) came up to us with a flyer for a Gothic/Industrial event, & an older, Japanese fellow took pictures of us as we walked by.
The Taiko troupe (from Tamagawa University, a performing arts school) was amazing! And cute
!! We had ourselves a bit of droolage over Taiko bishi. We all want to become Taiko fangirls now. Think we’ll start a club. Maybe call ourselves the Taikoettes. ^_^ The energy, coordination, sound, all fantastic. They were jumping, drumming, blowing whistles (tarotbydiana
, who found an amusingly phallocentric angle to the masculine side of the performance, thanks to those thick-@$$ drumsticks, pointed out the fact that Japanese dudes can make whistles quite sexy; I have a couple of J-rock concert moments in my collection which also attest to that). I took video, though the sound is garbled, since my camera doesn’t handle loud sounds in close proximity very well at all. But I got stills, too, & I surprised myself with the decency of those, considering how much those guys move about.
Then there was the feminine side of the performance. I’d caught sight of the girls earlier - they were all wearing the same pattern of kimono - & got a photo of them standing around in a group prior to their on-stage appearance. Took video of the first piece they did (the sound is okay on this one; it was accompanied by a recorded koto or shamisen track, which is not as loud as the drums were), a combination of dance & juggling as they twirled & tossed these little rattly sticks with tassly ends. They were all so adorable! Lovely & smiley. During the next number, they did a cute little move with a strand of fabric, where they did a sort of towel-wipe motion against their bottoms. I’ve got stills of that - the Taiko boys also came out & danced with them during the last part of that piece.
One last number from the Taiko bishi (I just took still shots for that one), then it was all over. We made our way back to the bus pick-up point, where we were just shy of getting on the first bus yet again. While we were waiting for the next one, we (mostly charaxinae
) got into a brief chat with a guy I can only describe as an old hippie who attends anime conventions. We also saw the Japanese fellow who’d taken our photo (it occurred to me later that we should’ve stopped & asked him if he wanted us to pose, unless he’s like me & would rather shoot sniper-style). He was with what must’ve been his grand-daughter, a totally kawaii little shojo who came pretty close to being the female version of Pikachu Boy (sans helmet or encounter-turned-anecdote). She was climbing on a rock in the middle of the garden-like island around which they had us lined up (since people at the back of the line for the first bus had cut in & taken what should’ve been our places), & had a camera. I think she took our picture, too. ^_^
Unfortunately, Camera Girl didn’t make the bus back with us, though I got use of the friendly, thoughtful lap again. Once we got back to Center City (& I took a few more photos, as it’s such an artistic-looking part of town), we went to a groovy little tea & gelato place with the greatest sign ever, & got some...well, tea & gelato. I opted for a combination of gelato, half grape (which was light & lovely!) & half chocolate (which was rich & creamy!).
Walked back to where we’d met tarotbydiana
& said good-bye, then it was off to the parking deck so charaxinae
could drive us back to her place, whereupon I got a quick recap of the directions that would take me home (though I’d brought Maggie, to be safe), picked up my car, & made off, arriving, thankfully, before it got dark.
If I’ve forgotten anything important or amusing, I hope the gals will chime in & remind me, but I think that’s the long & short of the day. The rains held off, the festival was a blast, & I found out that even though I went all the way to Asia to take pics of Japanese people/scenery/culture, it was right here in the US where Japanese people wanted to take pics of me & my friends.
It’s getting late so I can’t post any photos right now, but I will next time. So stay tuned!( EDIT: Photos here! )