Two weekends ago, Ryan and I had the pleasure of attending our first Nebuta festival. This is the largest festival in our prefecture, and a well known festival all over Japan. The highlight is the parade where giant handmade floats are pushed down the street by locals.
We went early because we heard that parking would be difficult, and it was a good thing we went when we did because it was rather busy with people lining the streets, even thought he parade didn't start for another 90 minutes. We managed to find parking (for free!) down as little residential side street. Other people were parking there, so we assumed it was ok, and parked there too. Good thing the car was fine there and we didn't get ticketed or towed.
We parked right next to a cute little park.
After strolling around the park for a few minutes, we headed to check out the festival. I was starving, so finding food was at the top of my list.
Here is what I found to get started with (and one reason I love Japan):
Veggies to get the night started. Perfect!
We also lucked out because Ryan decided to get some kimchi (yea, I know, only in Asia does that make sense as a festival/fair food) and this meant we were both paying customers at this one stand, so we were invited to sit in their chairs. This placed us right along the street where the parade was getting set up.
We watched the floats get lined up and the music performers practice a little.
Then the bog floats started rolling in to take their places for nearly 2 hours of walking these huge floats around the block. Not just one block, but many. The parade went in a very large square, probably 6 or so blocks wide.
Look at how colorful these are! Remember, these are all handmade by locals in the community.
In between the big floats were other groups of people marching, singing, and advertising something (by way of signs or clothing). Here you can see the traditional dress of this festival.
For a while, maybe 30 minutes, we sat there and ate (I had a beer too so that we stayed paying customers and could keep the seats- although that seems to be more of an American thing as I don't think anyone was looking to kick us out). The view stayed the same until the sun started to set.
Here you can see another float that started to pass by us.
And then a third! Then the parade was really under way.
And then it was dark! The floats are amazing when it is dark out because they are lit up.
After we saw the entire parade go around 1 full time, we headed out walking to check out more food and look for people we knew.
At one of the main intersections we found an Italian restaurant that was serving food not only inside, but also out front, because let's face it, this was where all the action was. I was having a hard time finding food in other places because a lot had meat or was cooked with meat. But at the Italian restaurant I found a cup of pasta with tomato sauce, topped with a salad and cheese. Perfect!
This hit the spot!
Then we kept on walking to see what else we could find. Here is the end of the parade (I think) with a giant drum.
Even at a festival dessert comes after dinner. Again, I love Japan because the food is healthier in many venues (that is not to say that there isn't unhealthy food here, it is just that healthy is more the norm, compared to many of the US options), like at festivals. I finished my evening off with some pineapple.
And although I was really enjoying my fruits and veggies at this festival, I did save room for a sweet treat. This is a chocolate ball (that was dropped in hot oil for just a few seconds to make it crispy) filled with sweetened red bean paste. It was so good!
After walking all the way back around the parade route, we headed to the car and called it an evening. We still had a 90 minute drive back home! But it wasn't that bad, and it was funny because we ended up following a bus from the base all the way back. It was a lot of fun, and I am sure we will go to this festival again next year.
QUESTIONS: Do you have any parades in your town? Have you ever marched in a parade?