I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Mid terms got a bit crazy and it’s been hard to get back on track. But I’m still having lots of adventures that I want to share! A couple of weeks ago I volunteered to work at the Minato ku Citizens Festival. For two days, local businesses and organizations gathered in several areas around Zojoji Temple which is located right in front of Tokyo Tower. It was really amazing to see all the people milling around the various stalls with the temple towering behind them.
Temple University students worked at the prize counter at the festival. People could buy a ticket and then pick a number out of a box (1-5). Depending on which number you drew, you would go to an area of the tent and choose from a myriad of prizes. Of course the higher the number you chose, the better the prize you received. I was working at the #3 area, where the prizes were an emergency disaster kit, a hot water bottle, a face roller (to exercise the muscles in your face), or odor absorbing charcoal. The #1 prize was a bike, but unfortunately I was at lunch when someone won it.
It was really fun talking to the people walking around the tent, and those who won prizes. It was good Japanese practice as well. On my time off I got to walk around the festival and check out all of the delicious food and other various stalls. One of my favorite stalls was selling okonomoyaki (Japanese fried pancakes) covered in shrimp, spicy sauce, and mayonnaise right off the grill. It was so delicious! So many people were just lounging around eating delicious food, and kids were running all over the place.
Later on the afternoon I was asked by the Minato ku International Association if I would like to try on a kimono. Of course I couldn’t refuse, so I allowed them to pick one out for me and dress me up. They picked a formal kimono covered in flowers, and a green obi. I was really surprised at how much work goes into wearing traditional Japanese clothing. It took them a good fifteen minutes to get my ready, and then I put on some traditional sandals and stepped outside the tent. A lot of people had gathered to take photos, and some of the members asked if they could take a photo with me. It was slightly embarrassing, but still pretty fun at the same time.
One of the members suggested I walk down to the children’s park and take photos with some Temple art students who were making Halloween cards with local children. It was a little hard to walk in the kimono, since it is so tight against the legs, but somehow I managed it. Afterwards I got my picture taken in front of the temple, and then was helped out of the kimono. Everyone was so kind, and it was a really great experience. I was really happy I volunteered, and would definitely help out again! Too bad it only happens once a year!