How ironic that the Kawamoto Matsuri (town festival) took place at the same time as Decorah`s NordicFest!
I don`t have any pictures, unfortunately, because I didn`t bring my camera. I didn`t want to be a noisy gaijin (foreigner), lugging around my camera and snapping photos of everyone, but when I showed up, I saw that everyone had a camera, and most of them had professional-level Canons and Nikons. Lesson learned: always bring your camera.
The day started out with a wild rafting competition down the fast-flowing river that runs through town. There were about 8 teams, all donning helmets and life jackets…and almost all of them tipped their rafts and had to swim to shore – to the amusement of the modest audience scattered along the dyke that overlooks the river.
That evening a stage was prepared for Yasokoi Dance, a live concert, a Kagura performance, a loud voice competition, and a Taiko performance. Tents lined the streets – full of hot and fresh Matsuri food. I sampled: yakisoba (pan-fried noodles), takoyaki (battered octopus cooked on a griddle), taiyaki (battered adzuki bean paste cooked on a griddle), okonomiyaki (an intriguing flatbread topped with shredded cabbage, yakisoba, and a fried egg), and a whole squid on a stick. It was incredible. I topped it off with a couple of Asahi Super Dry beers.
To complete the evening, Kawamoto Town put on a fireworks show like I`ve never seen before. I had forgotten that Japan was renowned for its fireworks (called hanabi – which means “flowers of fire”). For about 45 minutes (with breaks), fireworks boomed through the sky. A fellow onlooker told us that the fireworks were so loud because Kawamoto is enclosed by mountains, so the sound echoes. The Japanese onomatopoeia for the glittering sound of fireworks is gidagida : ) The fireworks burst in the shape of butterflies, smiley faces, and hearts. At times, there were so many fireworks that you could hardly even see them for the cloud of smoke that filled the sky. It was absolutely insane, and extremely entertaining.
I wish you could have been there : )