I am using this August 26, 2012 festival as an excuse to describe the graciousness and hospitality of the people we live near and some who show up to visit once a week. No one here owes us anything. No one is obligated to us in any way. Yet Kenji-san in Tsukuba contacts our Okano's and suggests they drive the two of us to his place picking up his sister Etsuko-san on the way. So Shigeko-san quietly backs out the car, Akio-san hops in the passenger seat and we get in the back and away we go. Did I mention Shigeko-san getting a new car? A sweet Toyota Aqua hybrid car that is substantially smaller and wiser than a Prius. Five of us get to Tsukuba, have a brief introductory view of the Matsuri from just outside Kenji-san's mansion (condo) building and then go up to his fifth floor mansion for a royal dinner. Kenji-san has also invited his long time American friend John Delp.
John has been in Japan for fifty years, has run a travel agency and is now teaching English Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. He survived the Kobe earthquake of 1995 and the March 2011 earthquake. In 1995 he was not in Kobe at the time, but had to use any means possible to get back with some emergency supplies walking the last stretch of thirty kilometers to get home to his family. John provided some graphic descriptions of the real life problems people face after such an earthquake. What do you do when you live on the fortieth floor of a building and the water is not running anymore?
Anyway John has been here for fifty years and still has not learned to appreciate Japanese food. Our dinner included a variety of dishes including a delicious potato salad made by our chef Kenji-san.
After dinner we went back outside to enjoy the matsuri which would be wrapping up at 9pm. The neputa floats circled the area directly in front of the mansion building so we had an excellent view. These floats were nowhere near the four story neputa we saw housed in a museum near Hirosaki, Aomori-ken. They cannot be any taller here as they have to maneuver beneath overhead walkways and even now they had to be tilted to get under. John had seen one that was not tilted and the whole top was torn off causing electric bulbs beneath to literally explode. Later a few people used a fireman's ladder to perform acrobatic tricks atop the ladder commemorating the days when bamboo ladder were used in fights against real fires.
It was a good evening and a pleasant drive home thanks to our Komatsuka hosts, the Okano's, Kenji-san and his sister Etsuko-san and Kenji's long time friend John.
Click on Matsuri Tsukuba to see photographs on Picasa.