Saturday, September 29, 2007
Fujiyoshida Fire Festival
What, you thought my weekend was over with just Tokyo? Think again! About an hour after getting back from Tokyo, I headed for the base of Mt. Fuji on the other side of the prefecture with Fred, Lynn, and a few others for the Fujiyoshida Fire Festival. This festival marks the end of the official Mt. Fuji climbing season and is basically where people set giant pillars of wood on fire.

We started off at Fujiyoshida Shingen (a big temple) where they were handing out free sake. In a stunning display of internationalization I was actually invited to drink by a Japanese women. She came up to me and explained to me what was going on with the sake, helped me get some, and we kanpai'd (basically like saying cheers and clinking glasses while drinking) together. Afterwards with chit chatted and then said our farewells.

Next we went down to the main street, where people were building the giant log structures that would be set on fire, and walked around. Like any festival, there were a ton of various food booths setup, so we grabbed something to eat. While walking around, we ran across several other JETs at the community center, where they were doing some traditional dances/ceremonies for the festival.

Then the fires started. And let me tell was HOT. And you walk right beside the flames too. I felt like I was cooking all night and couldn't help thinking that it would be a much better winter festival! A few of the fire pillars even fell over, but luckily there are fire fighters running around all night keeping things in check. You just have to be careful when walking past the pillars.

Also watched some taiko drumming and even got to participate by banging on a drum that one of the girls was having people in the crowd use! Picked up some really tasty sweet red wine as well.

After the festival, we tried to head home, but it was harder than it seemed to accomplish this task. It seemed like EVERY road we went down was blocked off, with no sign pointing you in the right direction. About an hour into our trying to leave, we finally found the exit, which was through a creepy, dark, forest that seemed to go nowhere. But we did make it home. All in all, a very fun and eventful weekend.

Up Next: A day of firsts

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