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17 April 2006 @ 12:39 am
Cherry Blossom Festival  
So I went to the Cherry Blossom Festival today in San Francisco. Despite the off-an-on rain, Japantown was packed with people. Caught some of the iaido demonstration, but it wasn't as interesting as I'd hoped (no tameshi-giri?), and that coupled with the rain drove me inside. Over in the Miyako Hotel I saw a little bit of a koto performance. The young girl playing the koto was definitely not the best I've heard—this was clearly a sort of student recital—but decent and didn't let the occasional mistake throw her off. And anyway, it made it feel more like a community event than something staged for tourists. I checked out the origami room (some fun stuff, including an origami Godzilla-menacing-Tokyo, a Starship Enterprise, and some cool abstracts as well as more traditional fare) and the paper dolls exhibition.

I was a little on the late side to one of the tea ceremony demonstrations. Not so late that I missed any of the actual demonstration, but enough that I got kind of a lousy seat and couldn't see much. Not that there's really a whole lot to see if you don't know the significance of all of the things they do. Still, it was interesting to watch, and the guy MCing did explain some of what the two women were doing. They only did the final segment, the serving of "thin tea"; a full tea ceremony, which includes a small meal, sake drinking (the host shares a cup of sake with each guest—as the MC said, "one should be careful not to invite too many people!"), thick tea, and finally thin tea, takes about four hours! After the demonstraton was over, anyone who wanted to could sit at a table on one side of the room and be served a bowl of thin tea and a Japanese sweet. I tried it, and it was delicious. Tea ceremony tea is made by mixing ground green tea leaves with hot water, rather than steeping. Thin tea is just a more dilute mixture than thick tea, but both are much thicker than, say, genmai-cha. The MC, who was a student of the hostess performing the demonstration, did a Q&A with the audience. Somebody asked about water, and he said that the sites famous for their tea water in Japan are not springs, but places along rivers. He said that it seems water is prized not for its mineral content but for a lack of minerals. Well, I thought it was interesting anyway. On the way out, I saw the tail end of the wu shu demonstration (yeah yeah, wu shu is Chinese, but the group has a place in Japantown so they get a pass as part of the community).

Of course, I had to hit the food stands. Like the last time I went, the food concessions were all fundraisers. I got a teriyaki burger from the senior services group, which wasn't great (teriyaki sauce and mayo is just overdoing it on the glop, frankly) but wasn't terrible. There was a stand selling cold beer and hot sake again this year, and I got a cup of the latter. Mmmm, sake. Passed on the Zen temple's takoyaki. I've tried them before and they're just kinda bland with a sour-ish fishy sauce. Not my bag. The stand selling those little pancake thingies stuffed with bean paste was there again, and I got a couple. It was right next to the booze stand, and they announced last call while I was in line, so as soon as I got my beanie cakes I hopped over and got another cup of sake for half price. Mmmm, sake. Got back up to the peace plaza just in time to see the end of the S.F. Nipponto Society's sword demonstration. They actually did some tameshi-giri!

Browsed around the shops for a bit, and ended up buying a Domo-kun t-shirt and a couple of books from Kinokuniya. I also got tickets for the big taiko festival next Saturday. At the CDs-and-other-stuff store I got my spine mangled by a massage chair before taking off for home. I think I'll be back next Sunday—that's when they have the big parade (and the cosplay parade). Plus there'll be a kendo demonstration, which I'd like to see, because I'm always up for some swordplay. So if anyone in the area wants to meet up, the offer still stands.

Easter dinner was a delicious leg of lamb with roasted potatoes and carrots, and steamed asparagus. Dessert was spice cake with a honey-caramel glaze, and strawberry-rhubarb fool.

Life is good.
 
 
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
 
 
 
Ameliapadparadscha on April 17th, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC)
I'd love to learn to play the koto someday when I have free time and money and all that. But for now, I do origami with indifferent success.

I've never tried sake. I'm not much for the alcohol in general ~ most of it tastes bad, and even the stuff that doesn't tends to make me sneeze. But one of these days maybe I'll try it.

Damn you San Franciscans; you have all the fun! And I don't even know what the correct word for 'somebody from San Francisco' is, and I was born there. Drink a cup of tea for me.
gwalla: king crimson fingergwalla on April 18th, 2006 02:13 am (UTC)
That's the correct word, but not for me. Technically, I'm a Berkeleyan; I've never actually lived in San Francisco. It's just a short BART (that's our subway/elevated track mass transit) ride away.