|Tampa Natsu Matsuri (Japanese Summer Festival) 2013|
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, June 16, 2013 Share
Friday night I made 100 water balloons with a rubber band tied to the end of each balloon. The rubber band had a small loop to stick your finger in and it turns the water balloon into a yo-yo. This was all in preparation for hosting one of the festival games called Yo-yo Sukui, a Japanese game with a kiddie pool or bin filled with water. Players hold a twisted piece of paper that has a small paper clip hook at the end. The object is to hook the loop on the rubber band on one of the water balloons floating in the water. This can be challenging. If you can catch a balloon then the balloon is the prize. The total prep time to fill each balloon with water and attach rubber bands took me four hours and forty-five minutes.
I was tired after so I went to bed. I had a dream that my alarm clock woke me up too late. I was searching my house for the water balloons and they kept disappearing. I was trying to dress and get to the festival grounds and I just couldnít I was wide awake at 4am and drank a pot of coffee. I try to be well organized.
I arrived bright and early at Christ the King Catholic Church around 6:50am. Just outside the gate, near the track, I met John, the Director of the festival, his wife, Gabe, who is soon leaving for Japan to teach English, and Johnís son who was nervous about his karate demonstration. John drove his truck onto the track, pulling a U-Haul trailer behind and parked close to the basketball court that Christ the King let us use for free. Then it was time to unpack the signs, lots of boxes, and tables. We all pitched in to help out. I mainly helped Gabe bring tables to the right locations. John had a detailed map drawn out where everything should be. Next, Gabe and I brought out several tables from the small storage area at the court. I met Johnís mom and dad and they helped me bring out all the chairs.
Shortly afterwards, Esther arrived and I helped to unload her van and bring out the mixer and speakers for the music. I helped out other people who were arriving and had heavy stuff to bring out.
Next it was time to prepare for my game, Yo-yo Sukui. I filled a plastic bin with water and Sam, who I havenít seen for a while because he moved to Osaka to teach English, helped me move the bin to my table. Then, I just put in the water balloons while Sam set up his game. Jesse was still not there. However he arrived with his wife Hiromi soon and they set up Kingyo Sukui, a goldfish scooping game that is very popular. All throughout the day Kingyo Sukui drew a huge crowd.
Around 8:45, I talked to Jesse and Hiromi and it was getting close to the 9am start time. I was already hot and sweaty. I did bring a paper fan that I picked up in Osaka, years ago. I met Harrison who was my helper for Yo-yo Sukui. He was very nice and he asked me if he could play the games and I said yes. He brought back Botan Rice Candy that I love. He even won me a box of Botan and I was happy.
Little by little people started to trickle in. The adults mostly past me by but the young kids were interested. It is hard to compete with live goldfish. However, because both our games were close together, that brought business to me.
I got one complaint about not having enough water in the water balloons and I made a mental note for next time. The other complaints were the loops were hard to catch with the hook for a few people. So I need to make the loops bigger for next time.
I spoke to Ron and Shige briefly and they had Candy Sushi that I didnít get the chance to see because when you host a game, you have to be there all the time.
Throughout the day there were several martial arts demonstrations. First up were students from the Aikido Chuseikan of Tampa Bay. I was way in the back, far from the stage, so I only could see it from a distance. The students were going through various wrist locks and take downs. Again, I was too far away to tell, which techniques were used. Aikido is a self-defense martial art that involves using your opponentís force against him. So if someone attacks you, you redirect their energy by locking up your opponentís attacking leg or arm, wrist and joint locks, and using throws. Aikido was made popular by Steven Seagal in Above the Law (1988.) and Out for Justice (1991.) In both movies the acting is mediocre but you can see how Aikido works. You can also check out several clips on Youtube.
Next, Johnís son gave a karate demonstration and I really couldnít see want was going on. I had a lot of customers during that time. I did see him performing with nunchaku, two small wooden sticks held together by a string or chain that originated in Okinawa.
My favorite event was the Cosplay Contest. The grand prize was a free Weekend Pass to Metrocon, the largest Anime Con in Tampa held every Summer at the Tampa Convention Center downtown. There were several unique costumes, including one tall cosplayer who was No-Face (Kaonashi) from Miyazkiís Academy Award winning, Spirited Away (2001.)
My favorite part of each festival is the food. Tokyo Mokyo, a local organization that offers Japanese language classes and promotes Japanese Culture, was there with Paul Stevens making Okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a seafood pancake that is popular in the Kansai area (Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto,) in Japan. Paul is the President of Tokyo Mokyo. I had Okonomiyaki with crab, shrimp, red bell peppers, onions, scallions, and even French fried onions. It was really good and the main dish I eat each festival.
Rennyís Oki Doki Food Truck was there. Rennyís specializes in Okinawan cuisine. I didnít try it by Harrison had Okinawa Soba and it looked good.
For dessert and to beat the heat, the Kona Ice Truck was there. Tropical flavors on shaved ice that is much better than your standard snow cone.
There were also many people bringing in homemade foods and I didnít get the chance to see what all was available.
I did see many longtime friends who came back to say hi. I met Toivo, Chizu and family, Kumi and family, Ron and Shige, and Jerry. I did meet a woman who gave me her card, Mihoko Ueki Gonzalez of Talk Fusion. Iíll have to visit her website and check it out. Someone from the USF J-Club sold me a bag of Japanese treats for one dollar with all the proceeds going to the Japanese Red Cross. She was wearing the I Love Japan USF J-Club shirt so I said, ďnice shirt,Ē because we were both wearing the same shirt.
She laughed and replied, ďYes we are wearing the boyfriend and girlfriend shirts.Ē That was funny.
Hosting a game and interacting with the children was a lot of fun. I am already looking forward to hosting another game for next year. Games will be my thing and I blame it on a lifetime spent playing video games. I had a good time chatting with Jesse and Hiromi.
There was a great turn out this year with a good sized crowd. It was a good idea to move the festival to a South Tampa location.
The day was not over, following the Ruffle, and sometime after noon, it was time to break everything down. Putting away everything seemed easier compared to setting up. The USF J-Club was a big help putting folded tables and packed boxes back into cars. A few other people stayed to help out and this was greatly appreciated. The gang decided on lunch at Chiliís. I was hot and tired so I bowed out. I went home, took a shower, watched Wes Andersonís The Fantastic Mr. Fox and was sound asleep, covered in Tiger Balm, by 8pm.
If you didnít go out to see the festival you really missed out. John, the Director, and everyone involved works very hard to make the Tampa Natsu Matsuri a real authentic Japanese festival. Hope to see some new people next year.
For photos see my Flickr account here.
"The Asian Aperture" is ©2013 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2013 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.
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