July 4, 2015

Dontaku festival in Fukuoka, Japan

On a warm day, I went to the Dontaku festival with classmates of my university. It is a parade through the streets near the shopping centre of Fukuoka. Also, the name Dontaku stands for Zondag in Dutch but since the Japanese pronounce it differently they just call it Dontaku. I do not know whether this festival has something to do with The Netherlands because I haven't seen anything that looks like something from the country in the parade.

Anyway, luckily, I was just on time at the place because it started to get crowded and I could find a place to stand to get a good view of the parade. There were all kinds of groups with costumes coming by and I thought it was very interesting to see the traditional Japanese clothes from regions nearby Fukuoka. There were also tourists in the parade which I first saw standing beside me, but I did not expect the parade people would invite them to participate.  My favourite person in the parade was Kumamon, a black bear which is the mascot of Kumamoto. Kuma means bear! I think it is hilarious how they use this bear with wide open eyes to promote the Kumamoto prefecture. Currently, he is the most famous mascot in Japan.

After the parade, I went to check out the streets which had food stalls and there were also two people making mochi which grabbed my attention. Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made by pounding sweet rice paste and then shaping it. This is the traditional way which often happens at a festival or New Year's celebration. There was one guy with a hammer pounding the sweet rice paste and another person which quickly shaped it with his hand so the hammer could hit it well. I was kind of astonished that the hammer did not hit the hand of the man which was shaping the paste.

Furthermore, I went to go shopping since I was near the shopping centre anyway. While I was browsing the goods in an anime store I heard voices talking in Dutch, they were boys. One of them had a Hamster Weken bag of the Dutch super market Albert Heijn, that was a bit cringeworthy and funny. Why would you bring this bag to Japan....  Haha. Anyway, it was a nice day and I saw many costumes that are worn in Fukuoka and its nearby regions.

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