Japanese Festival

I was running on the outer loop of Rice campus, struggling and failing from lack of grit, when I came upon a Japanese mother taking photos of her little Japanese daughter dressed in a kimono. I approached and asked her where they were heading to, and she told me there's a Japanese festival at Hermann Park, right arcoss the street from Rice. I was pretty excited, and indeed, an adventure did unfold, an adventure that led me to begin this blog...

The festival was presented by the Japan-America Society of Houston on Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14. It was free admission, and I'm not sure why the website isn't working. 

Along both sides of the park were booths of games, food, information, crafts, and other goodies. Check out these beautiful plants.

This woman hand made flowers from clay, dried and painted over, and they look VERY real. 

There were many families out there in the sun, enjoying the weather and the entertainment. One thing I like about Houston is that when I do get off campus and join public events, they usually capture a great intersection of how diverse Houston is ethnically. Young families and teenagers of all kinds both gained a lot from this festival.

There were a couple of booths that featured games where there was a blow up pool with marbles or small fish, and you get very thin paper nets to catch them for prizes before the paper breaks. The staff were very generous to children, of course. This one man I saw was determined to get the BIGGEST marble with his IMPOSSIBLY weak and small nets, and he kept paying tickets to pursue this. 

I didn't know there was Texas-made sake. Too bad I couldn't try it, but it sure looked interesting. 

As in other Japanese festivals, this one also had kimono wearing stations for people to try on kimonos and walk around. Many women help customers pick the right one, put it on them, and tie things the right way. It truly is a process, but it looks like a lot of fun!

I pass by these giant paper water lilies (or were they lotuses?) floating in the central pond of Hermann Park. They were beautiful to look at and complemented the festival oh so well. A lot of small children even wanted to climb into the water to play with these giant toys. 

 Things get very interesting when I get into the Japanese Tea Garden already existing in the park. The festival made use of the spaces, hosting tea ceremonies, kimono-wearing stations aforementioned, and a free calligraphy station. I learned to write the world Owl in kanji. It looks a lot like 'bird' in chinese. I'm excited to hang that up next year in my single dorm room.

After my time at the Japanese Tea Garden, as soon as I left, I realized I had lost my room key. It would cost me $50 if I lost it, so I frantically went back to the garden, carefully retracing my every step, scanning the ground all over for that one gold key. Eventually, two nice Houstonians separately asked me what I was looking for and even helped me retrace my steps to find this key. Finally, this couple who had seen me panicking and looking for a very long time approached me and asked what I was looking for, and they told me they had just seen it hung on a very small tree. I was so excited to find my key again. Turns out someone probably picked it up and hung it on a little branch of this small shrub/tree thing right next to the red umbrella seating station outside of the house for the tea ceremony. I thanked the other two Houstonians who volunteered their time for me. Faith in humanity fully restored.

I walked through the rest of the festival, looking at performances of kendo (a Japanese martial art), free samples of snacks, and to top it all off, a sample of Yakult, a visit from my childhood drink...


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