Aug 18, 2014

Final Festivals

This year's Festival of Fire & Violence (Noto-cho's Abare Matsuri) was even more awesome than last year for one very important reason: Olivia! After arriving last August, all she ever heard anyone talk about was how incredible Abare Matsuri is. She had to wait all the way until the next summer for it to come again! By that time, she had become a pillar in her community.

When it was time to carry the kiriko into the pillars of flames, she did it alongside her Judo coach, taiko teacher, and her adoring fans (which is all of Noto-cho). I suggest you read Olivia's account of the festival. After meeting up with the gang, we all headed to her adopted Noto-cho family's home to celebrate. It was a privilege to be welcomed into a Japanese home with such love and generosity.

My favorite quote from that night was when Olivia was explaining her actions: "I do what I want because I'm a grown-ass woman!" Words to live by.

Noto-cho's Abare Matsuri: The Festival of Fire & Violence

One week later, it was Nanao's turn to carry lanterns for Hoto Matsuri. At last year's festival, we had a team leader that kept us pumped up, and we had danced atop the hoto for every stop. This year we got off to a rough start, with the back corner of the hoto dragging. Only by making frequent stops were we able to accomplish our goal: cooling off Sanno Jinja's deity by taking him to the seaside.

Again this year, I was the only woman carrying the hoto. I saw my students several times throughout the night, looking on as I carried my weight alongside all the guys. I wanted to show them strength; that they can do anything! At the end of the night, one of the girl flute players from atop our hoto came down and carried for the final leg of the journey. I told her she was strong and she smiled. It lit up my heart.

Nanao's Hoto Matsuri


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