ume, umy!

actually, ume is pronounced ooo-meh – but i still like the title.

anyway, this weekend we went to Ayako’s home town of Saga to celebrate the plum festival called “ume matsuri”. this festival takes place at the nearby shrine that is up.
we arrived in saga around 3 on saturday, and had missed that day’s festivities. instead we headed into the city to see the “hina matsuri” festivities. more hina dolls! fat ones! skinny ones! ice ones!

we also played a fan game where you had to flick the fan foward with your thumb, and try to knock something over. it took awhile, but i got it.

hina festival ice sculptures of hina dolls mobile playing with sensu outside saga jinja

that night we chilled at ayako’s house with her family. ate oden for dinner, and watched TV. we watched some very interesting TV (i’ll talk about it in another post) and crashed fairly early.

ayako's house the room where we ate dinner

Sunday we were up and out of Ayako’s house before ten to head to the local shrine. A 5 minute walk away was an amazingly long and steep set of stone steps. up we went…

the stairs to ogi jinja can you spot me on the stairs? jenn and the mini shinto gate chad takes nice pics at the top!

at the top they served us koi-koku (miso soup with koi in it). none of us liked it very much, so we tossed it over the side. ayako and mayumi finished theirs.

ayako and mayumi were the only ones that finished their soup Koi Koku - miso soup with carp in it

jess and i donned the green “staff” robes and started to help ayako’s mom serve the hot plum juice. it was fun.

me, ayako's mom and jess

now, normally there aren’t many foreigners, but at this festival chad, eric, jess and i were the *only* ones there. it was hilarious. people were talking to us left right and centre. the bands, and MCs talked to us. a jazz singer stopped, and asked me: “when i sing in english, do you understand the words?” i told her she was “josu” (= very good). another band said they will try to speak english to us. i yelled “GAMBARE!” They liked that. Chad was photographed almost as much as if he was a plum tree.

the foreigners. chad was almost as photographed as the ume blossoms old men enjoying udon kids and blossoms this strange guy kept coming to see us all day

The day was jam packed with performances by Taiko drummers, a jazz band, a few random rock bands, Kendo, and of course, karaoke. We thought about singing, but apparently you had to pre-register and bring your own tape. So that was it for that idea.

kendo us and the taiko drummers karaoke taiko drums

The day ended with Bingo. There was also bingo earlier in the day, and I had won — but there were a bunch of winners at the same time, and only one prize left. We had to janken for it and I won. Oh, and Eric had a false bingo so that was pretty funny. But in the afternoon game, of the 7 of us, 6 won. Poor Chad was the only loser. In all fairness, someone gave me a winning card to call bingo on. Ayako was the first winner. She had mentioned earlier that she wanted strawberries, and got herself a big crate of them. I chose a plum bonsai tree. I was so excited. Eriko got one too. The others got a various assortment of ume-boshi, ume-jelly and other plum goodies. What a fun way to end the day!

ayako said she wanted strawberries it's my ume-ko! bonsai! jess won bingo! even eric won bingo!

So, after the festival wrapped up, we piled into the back of ayako’s mom’s truck with our goodies and had a fun ride back down the steep twisty turny roads.

just chilling in ayako's neighbourhoodjess makes her  i think she swallowed a bug.

The blossoms were beautiful. As you can imagine, we all got a little bit trigger happy. Here are a few pictures for now, and once I get them all together, I’ll add a link to my ume album. Click on the image to see a larger copy.

the different colours are different kinds of plums pink ume i love the red lantern against the pink blossoms
more blossoms! i like this one more blossoms!

2 Responses to “ume, umy!”

  1. Em Says:

    Can you call me Pink Ume from now on?

  2. jenn Says:

    Sure – or wouldt you rather Pink Goddess?

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