Category: Festivals


The Maebashi Rose Garden

A few weeks ago the park near my house had its Rose Garden Festival. The roses were all in bloom and the park was packed with people enjoying the warm weather and pretty flowers.

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It’s really a beautiful park, and it’s only about 15 minutes away from my house. Also, it’s really close to the best hamburger shop in the whole city.

The roses had so many varieties, colors, countries of origin, and some even had interesting names.

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My favorite of the day:

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It’s so unique and it’s my favorite picture.

The park itself had some great features. I loved the rose tunnel.

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I also loved the cute little gazebos!

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It was very hot that day, so after seeing all the roses my group and I had some ice cream to cool off. I had rose ice cream, which was very unusual. It was like eating a delicious scented candle.

The final thing I want to share before I go is the rare “blue” rose.

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Is it really blue? You be the judge.

-Kristen

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Some more back logging for you guys. In April I went to the world’s largest fish streamer display. Fish streamers are usually put up in honor of Children’s Day, May 5th, especially at homes with boys. This was the perfect time to go because the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. The cherry blossom trees in combination with the fish streamers over the river made for a beautiful day.

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The point of the trip was to have a hanami party, which is like a flower watching picnic. You sit under the cherry trees, drink, eat, and be merry. Everyone brought different dishes to share and alcohol to enjoy.

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The park was packed with people, but I didn’t get any pictures of the picnicers or the general atmosphere there. It was very fun. There were lots of kids there playing with their families. Many people brought their pets (I got to pet a rabbit!), and for some reason there was a group of cosplayers dressed up, dancing and singing. Quite the day.

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After lots of delicious food and a couple cans of umeshu, I fell asleep on the blanket and got a sunburn. I can’t wait to go back next year!

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve made a post. This will be the first in a series of my recent travels.

In February I went to the Snow Festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

You’re probably wondering what a snow festival is. Think tons and tons of snow shipped in from all over Hokkaido, compressed into huge blocks, and then carved into intricate designs and put on display for everyone to see. Add tons of food and people from all over the world, and you get a snow festival. There were even ice sculptures at the snow festival too.

I only got to go for 3 days, but that was pretty much all I needed.

The festival didn’t officially start until Monday, so Saturday and Sunday were a chance to explore the sights of Sapporo.

The first day was spent in a neighboring city called Otaru where I went to see the canal snow light path. It was snowing and cold, but very beautiful.

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That day I got to eat some delicious ramen. Hokkaido is famous for delicious miso ramen and crab.

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The second day was a chance to see Sapporo’s famous chocolate factory. At the beginning of the trip I thought the chocolate factory would be a boring, run of the mill factory. Instead, it was like walking into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The factory owners/operators really tried to make the trip magical by filling the place with a ton of weird stuff, and of course some views into the factory and an explanation of how they make their signature product.

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I ate some more delicious ramen that day. This is called miso butter corn ramen. There is a lot of butter and corn in it!

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Sunday night was test night for the Snow Festival light up shows. I got some of my best pictures of the huge sculptures.

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An ice sculpture that has real crabs and fish in it.

Finally the day of the Snow Festival came. I saw all of the sculptures in the day time, some performances and shows, and stuffed myself with food from Malaysia, China, Russia, and Japan, of course. I wish I had taken some pictures of my food for you all, but it was gone quickly after I bought it.

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After a great weekend in Sapporo, it was time to go home. I want to go back soon to eat more fantastic food and see more of beautiful Hokkaido.

At the airport we ran into a special friend. Melon bear!

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I taught my kids the sentence: Kristen looks like food for melon bear. They weren’t as amused as I thought they would be.

Now for your feedback – what was your favorite sculpture?

-Kristen

August: The Month of Matsuri!

Happy Obon everyone!

The months of July, August, and September are big months for festivals, I’ve noticed. It seems like every weekend there’s a festival to go to. I’ve been rained out of two festivals so far, but I got some good pictures from the Yagibushi festival in Kiryu, Gunma last weekend.

The festival started off hot and humid. The streets of Kiryu were lined with food stalls. Popular items were fried chicken, okonomiyaki, yakisoba, shaved ice, chocolate covered bananas, among others. I tried yakimanjuu, the specialty of gunma. It was kind of like chewy bread on a stick… that’s the only way I can describe it. Every big intersection had a lantern lit platform where people could stand and sing, while on the ground dancers performed in front.

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As it got darker, there were more people gearing up for the dancing portion of the festival.

I ate one of these:

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It was filled with meat and very hot (temperature-wise). Also greasy.

All of the lanterns lit up at night. It was very pretty.

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Then the singing and dancing started! I don’t think you can imagine what it was like from just a description I could give you, but luckily I have a video!

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As you can see, it was very crowded! But fun. And yes, my fellow foreigners and I jumped in and danced too.

That’s one of many festivals in the area. I’m sure I’ll go to some more in September as well, especially the Maebashi Matsuri.

Coming soon: Gunma Orientation.

Thanks for reading!