Recently I took a trip to Tochigi Prefecture to see my friends living in Sano (a city I lived in for 1 year). It had been 8 months since I moved to Osaka and I hadn't been back to Sano once. One of my friends from Sano had gone back to America when I moved to Osaka, but she was coming back to visit. I figured it'd be a good idea if I visited Sano at the same time as her. It'd feel like a reunion! Even though I've come to like Osaka, I feel like Sano is my hometown in Japan. It's kind of funny, if you live in a big city you go to the country to relax and have a good time, but if you live in the country you wanna go to the city. So basically what you don't have you want.
大阪から東京まで夜行バスで行きました新宿から佐野のプレミアム・アウトレットまでまた別のバスに乗りました。佐野に着くと、友達が迎えてくれま した。栃木の友達として言っているけど、実際に彼女が住んでいるところは群馬です。栃木の友達と遊ぶときによくいるこなので、栃木の友達と呼んでいます。 会った時凄く嬉しかった。僕が佐野を去った時この友達が泣いてしまいました。運転するながら佐野の友達の輪についてなにがあったのかを話してくれました。今の 佐野の状況を理解しました。
I took an overnight bus from Osaka to a place called Shinjuku in Tokyo, then I took another bus from there to Sano. My friend Satomi (who techically lives in another prefecture but I still consider her part of my Tochigi friends) picked me up. When I saw her again I felt pretty happy. She actually cried when I moved from Sano. While we were driving she was telling me what had changed in Sano since I'd left. I told her a bit about my life in Osaka too. The picture is from Shoya a place we all went every Wednesday when I lived there.
On Saturday I went and played frisbee with Utsunomiya University. It was super fun, but super exausting. The team I play with in Osaka isn't very serious so we don't run really hard. The feeling of the two teams is completely different. University teams tend to be more serious so it was a real work out for me. I've gotten slow and I feel like an old guy even though I've only been out of University for 2 years!
That night I went to my friend's (the one who picked me up at the station) mom's Izakaya *(bar). About 20 of my friends were there. I was glad to be able to talk to everyone again, and see them in a group together. We sang karaoke, drank, and talked all night. The next morning we woke up early to go to "festival" in a town inbetween Tokyo and Yokohama called Kawasaki.
That festival is called the Kanamara Matsuri. Ever heard of this "festival"? What can I say about it? It was an interesting experience haha. Probably something one can only experience in Japan. Because is so bizarre a large foreign population attends. The Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus, かなまら祭り?) is an annual Shinto fertility festival held in Kawasaki, Japan in spring. The exact dates vary: the main festivities fall on the first Sunday in April. The penis forms the central theme of the event that is reflected everywhere—in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decorations, and a mikoshi parade.
The Kanamara Matsuri is centered around a local penis-venerating shrine once popular among prostitutes who wished to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. It is said that there are divine protections also in business prosperity and the clan's prosperity, easy delivery, marriage, and married couple harmony. There is also a legend of a sharp-toothed demon that hid inside the vagina of a young girl and castrated two young men on their wedding nights (vagina dentata). As a result, the young girl sought help with a blacksmith, who fashioned an iron phallus to break the demon's teeth, leading to the enshrinement of the item.
Today, the festival has become somewhat of a tourist attraction and is used to raise money for HIV research.
Here's a pic of the "big float" haha