Ishida House, Matsudo

Yuto's school sports day was today. It was supposed to be yesterday, but they postponed in because of the typhoon. I think they might have been better off leaving it as it was; it started raining intermittently an hour or so into the event, and it got worse and worse as the day progressed. The kids didn't seem to be deterred by a little wetness, though.

A Japanese sports day is pretty impressive. There are different "classes" (in this case three of them) competing in various events for points (sort of like the houses in Harry Potter). It's really more of a performance than a tournament, though. The kids had clearly been practicing for this for weeks, half the events were rehearsed dances, and there were plenty of ouendan doing performances between events. It's a pretty big deal for all the families too, everyone comes. Naota left at five in the morning to go reserve us a little patch of ground to watch from, and there were already more than thirty people there. Tomoko's parents and her brother and sister (as they were introduced to me, I think one of them she meant to say in-law) and their kids all came. One of her nephews was a cute little guy maybe a year old. He all but jumped into my arms from his dad's, didn't seem to mind one bit that I wasn't Japanese.

At about 2:00 Ms. Yokoo picked me up to go to her Labo BBQ at a park. It was fun, but we were huddled under the structure from the rain for a good portion of it. Got to eat soumen, an interesting sort of party noodle. What they do is set up a long trough (traditionally it's made from bamboo split down the middle, but we had a plastic one), and run water down it. Anyone hungry stands near the trough with a cup of soy sauce and a pair of chopsticks at the ready. Someone at the top then sends down soumen noodles (wheat noodles sort of like angel hair), tomatoes, and other goodies down the trough, and everyone goes to town with their chopsticks. There's a colander at the end to recycle missed food. It's pretty fun, and kinda competitive until everyone in front of you gets full.

The rain was sort of ambient for most of the time. After the food was done, Ms. Yokoo asked me to show my album to everyone. As this was the first time I had an audience containing younger kids, I was anxious to see how it would work. However, Zeus wasn't having any of that; the minute everyone quieted down and I started on my first page, there was a crack of thunder and the rain came down so hard that it was difficult to talk, much less hear anyone. We went through the album anyways, pretty pictures etc., but I got through it as fast as I could as it was clear that people were wanting to go home. Still, everyone stuck around to make sure everything got put away.

Fun day, but I'll still be drying off into next week.


mamagotcha said...

I hope you got a photo of the soumen! That sounds awesome... for an outdoor picnic, at least.

Did Bill ever tell you about his Boy Scout camping trip to Japan, where he had to sleep in a tent through a typhoon?