Traditional Japanese Summer Festival

mood: intrigued

So last weekend I'm sitting at my house with nothing to do and notice that I'm running low on cash and need to stop at an ATM in Shinjuku. At this point I still hadn't gotten a Japanese bank account (which I did this week, more on that later) so every time I needed to get money, I had to ride 30 minutes away to use a Citibank ATM which will directly connect to my US checking account. Since this was a bit of a trip, I didn't really want to go that far by myself just for that. I invited Aika, a housemate of mine, to go with me to Shinjuku to do some shopping and exploring.

So I quickly finish up my business with Citibank and we proceeded to wander through east Shinjuku when we stumbled upon a temple grounds where a large traditional summer festival was taking place. From time to time festivals are held on temple grounds and are a good way to soak up some real Japanese culture. We had nothing going on so we thought we'd stop for awhile and check it out.

At the entrance of temples they have these gates called tori (or something like that).

Here is what we first saw as we entered the festival.

The festival is setup with many booths lining the walkways leading to the main temple where different vendors offer different famous festival eats, games, and shops. Here you can see an old man offering some delicious squid on a stick, called ika in Japanese cool eh?.

This was my favorite part of the festival. My favorite animal since I was a youngin' has been turtles. In this traditional Japanese game, you pay around $3 and you get a small scooper made of the same stuff as ice cream cones and you go as fast as you can to scoop as many baby turtles as possible before the scooper breaks from the water. You get to keep the turtles you catch as pets and then the vendor offers to sell you a small little reptile cage to carry them in. Look how cute they are though, and watching them swim around in fleets through the little pond was fun.

This extrordinarily jolly man was making chicken flavored with traditional Japanese seasonings and sauce. Aika bought some and we had a good time enjoying some great chicken. It was cheap too ($2.50).

Here we are continuing through the crowd towards the temple.

Look at this guy's desserts. Bananas dipped in chocolate then covered in sprinkles with a hat and face design affixed to the top. He tried to hard sell me his bananas but they just didn't look appealing enough to get 300 yen out of my pocket. They certainly look funny though.

Ah some more food. This is a really traditional food where they take difference vegetables then put them in batter and make a ball and bake it in these little cupcake-like fryers.

Here we are finally at the main temple. Wow, beautiful.

Directly to the right of where I was just standing, there was this mini..temple building.

Then directly to the left was the second road/entrance to the temple from the main streets.

Very bright at night with nice colors. Pretty lamps too.

There was also this lamp/building display. Inside those windows were large gold statues of pagodas or something.

At the top of the main temple steps you can see people here offering some money to the temple then doing some short prayers.

Turning a 180 from there, you can get a nice high view on the festival. That's Aika playing with her cell phone.

More people waiting to pray for good fortune.

Making faces as I usually do.

After walking back down the stairs we started to head to the second road of the fesitval and saw this cleansing..sink?> angry, grr These are at all the temples I've visited in Japan and it has some religious value but the exact meaning escapes me at the moment.

Some young Japanese children playing a festival game for prizes.

This was my second favorite booth next to the turtles. This is fish or super large shimp stabbed on a pointy stick. In the center of the display he's got going, there are some hot coals. When you buy a fish or shrimp, it's placed directly on the hot coals and cooked fresh for you. It looks delicious doesn't it? rolls eyes

On this road they had the goldfish version of the turtle game. If any of you have ever watched alot of anime or Japanese movies, I'm sure you've seen this as it's a very popular game at these kinds of festivals. Same rules apply as the turtle game.

Near the end of the second street. Many happy faces and gobs of kids running through people playing games.

Here are some cool kids winning a DVD at a shooting game. With their pretty long hair and tight pants we thought they were women at first. Hey, it's Japan, most the guys look like girls in Shinjuku and Shibuya. So if you visit, be careful before you comment on the looks of a girl from behind.

Here is a well behaved dog just hanging out.

This cute girl is cutting up some squid on a stick. Her family's booth was offering squid heads and legs.

And that ends it for the festival. It was the first time I've been to one, and it was really cool. If you ever get a chance, check one out. And, of course, as soon as I walk out of the festival onto the main streets, I see a Lamborghini. Japanese people and their rich exotic cars pfft.

We continued to wander around a bit in Shinjuku afterwards and I saw this less active temple.

Artistic? No I'm not a hippy.

And this is my face. plain
Mason on 06.03.07 @ 09:30 AM PST [link]

My School - Temple University Japan

mood: This place is damn small

It just occured to me that I have yet to share with everyone the school that I go to everyday. I attend Temple University Japan. TUJ is a campus of Temple University in Pennsylvania. For the past 20 years or so they've had a campus in Japan. Recently in the past few years they finally received recognition from the Japanese Ministry of Education meaning that my diploma will be legit in both the US and Japan when I graduate. The campus is actually pretty small, consisting of two mid to large size office buildings and a satellite building used for adminitrative purposes. The two buildings are refered to as Azabu hall and Mita hall. All my classes are in Azabu hall and that's where I spend all my time when at school so that's what I'll be sharing with all of you today.

This is the entrace of Azabu hall as you walk up onto it from the street.

Here we are meeting up with some other Temple students at the entrance to the building. On the left you can see Josh with his usual way too happy smile on his face.

Here is what you see when you first walk into the building. On the right you have the public telephones along with the door to the main offices (such as counselors, OIS, etc.) and the bookstore. To the left you have the stairs taking you to the upper floors which you can see....


This is what you see on every floor after you exit the stairs. On the right is the entrance to the stairs, the left, the elevators for the lazy people. Directly in front you can see the art majors area and the hallways to the cafeteria, student gov't room, and some classrooms. Behind me is more classrooms and the TLC.

I don't really like to spend much time here because I have such little respect for artists and their over emotional demeanor and 'deep thoughts'. Also, many of those anime obsessed mal-adjusted freaks who wear cat ears to school and place japanese words (such as kawaii) into English sentences to try to sound cool call this place home.

This is the TLC (The Learning Center) which is a free tutoring resource offered to all the students. Last semester I worked as an Economics and English Writing tutor, boy did those students get jipped.

Moving on towards the cafeteria we walk into the student lounge with the student gov't room entrance in the back. Many students hang out in here during lunch to study, play video games, and lie around.

This is the hallway as we walk away from the student lounge (on the left). On the left wall you can see posting for student clubs that're offered (such as fight club, archery, karaoke, etc). On the right wall there is information for internships offered to TUJ students.

Here we are continuing to walk backwards as far as we can into the 'cafeteria'. When I say cafeteria I really mean to say a room that's way too small with some vending machines where people bring food in to sit and eat. During lunchtime though this american chef sits in the back corner and offers american meals for around $8.

Alright here we are now on the 5th floor sitting in one of the 4 or 5 computer labs checking on myspace.

Here is what the average classroom looks like in Temple. Each table has electricity and internet available (although most people just use the wireless in the building) and a LCD projector which the professors frequently use.

This is the 4th floor English library. We used to claim that it was the biggest in the Tokyo area...but...c'mon, that's such a dirty lie. On the plus sides, we get in magazines and newspapers from the states on a regular basis along with the US release of DVDs which the students can rent for free.

here is the main computer lab where most of the students do their printing for classes. Around finals time, this place is a zoo of lines of people waiting to use the printers to print off term papers.

That's pretty much about it. This was a really short tour I know, but I only wanted to share where I go everyday. The actual campus is a bit bigger then this (not by much though). Anyway, the last picture is some of my friends which I see everyday after classes. From left to right it's Risa, Erika, Yukari, and Josh.

cool eh?
Mason on 06.03.07 @ 07:41 AM PST [link]