I am still alive, honestly! It’s FINALLY the end of term and the chaos of exams are out of the way (not that I can really complain – I only had 2). Since I’ve been a bit busy I’ll recap a couple of the adventures I’ve had in the last few weeks.
First, as I mentioned at the end of my last post, was the Yokote Kamakura festival. Kamakuras are basically igloos, but made by hollowing out a pile of snow:
We started out at a smaller festival where we helped out with preparation, welcoming people into kamakuras and making amazake/mochi (as seen in the picture).
We also had to help serve tea and mochi inside a restored old house – we were all led by a very strict obaa-chan who gave us a strict warning if we got anything wrong. I also had to use some of my keigo on the customers. The mochi we were serving people inside the house was some that we had made earlier. Mochi is made by pounding cooked rice into a paste and then you can eat it with sweet red bean paste.
Everyone got to have a go at making the mochi, but it was quite tricky! You had to swing a really heavy mallet and keep in time, so that you didn’t hit the woman’s hand! It was good fun, though. Even the children got to have a go – with the help of an adult.
There also happened to be a giant snow slide for the kids (and possibly a couple of university students) to slide down on fertilizer bags…
In the evening, we went to the main festival in Yokote – scattered around the city were many different sized Kamakuras. This included the grounds of the primary school being covered with lots of tiny Kamakuras (each with a little candle inside), a Kamakura police station and lots of snow carvings.
However, the best bit about going to the festival was definitely the festival food: I had some of the best Takoyaki I’ve had in a while, some of Yokote’s Yakisoba and plenty of Amazake!!
The next weekend, we had more “snow-filled fun”…there was a big snowball fight planned for about a month ago, but it ended up raining. We actually had it last week – a nice afternoon full of snow-dodgeball and a snowman competition.
The snowman competition was great fun – we had 20 minutes to build either the tallest or the best decorated snowman and there were some interesting results…
Ours won the best decorated (due to me running back to my apartment and grabbing my Loki costume from last term):
Luckily, the snow is finally starting to melt – there’s even some grass showing and you can see the pavement beneath your feet! The weather was even so mild the other day (10 degrees), I went for a lovely walk to see if I could get some pictures of the mountains in the sunshine. It was really strange, though, because at points it felt like I was either in the Suffolk countryside during winter, or even walking through the country back in Scotland!
Sadly, it being the end of term meant leaving another class and another lovely teacher behind:
Now it’s on to a lovely month long holiday! So, until my next update: またね！