I’ve just got back, literally, from my first Japanese festival, The Danjiri Matsuri. Taking place in the relatively far Kishiwada area on the other side of Osaka, me and two friends made our way across the somewhats complex route of Japanese trains. Upon arrival at Kishiwada area we were met with a vast amount of people; well, they didn’t ‘meet’ us per se, but it was definately the biggest crowd of people I have ever seen, let alone become a part of.
The origins, history, meanings of the festival etc I have no clue about. No shame in admitting you don’t know something … right? Gah! Anywho here’s the lowdown of what happens (or at least what I think happens … please don’t email me saying I got it wrong, you have to appreciate I’ve been in Japan less than two weeks). Members of different communities of Osaka pull very well constructed and decorated floats along the streets of Kishiwada. How do I know they’re well constructed? Well aside from the hundred or so people pulling and pushing it, there’re a dozen or so people on it. On the very top is an extremely excited fellow jumping from side to side over the peak in the roof. Now here’s the fun part. At street corners they try to get these floats around the corner as fast as they can, and from the looks of it as close to the crowd as they can get, whilst the guy on top tries not to fall off and be trampled by the crowd following behind it. Though I didn’t see anyone fall (there were more than a few close calls), I did see a few paramedics going from place to place.
After my friends headed off, I thought I’d do a bit of exploring. Besides the pulling of the giant fruit stall, the festival itself was everything I imagined a Japanese festival to be, though I didn’t imagine this many people! There were so many kinds of food, stalls, and generally pleasant atmosphere. I was incredibly tempted to try the goldfish scooper, but my dorm doesn’t allow pets. That being the case, I did still bring home some souvenirs and a wad of photographs! I did find out that there’re card readers at Uni, so I’ll hopefully get the photos online next week, but monday is a holiday so not then ^_~.
Oh, the results of the placement tests didn’t go so great. There’re five groups based on current ability. Group A are fairly basic (from what I hear) and Group E are almost fluent. Just to fill in the gaps for you, the other three groups are B, C and D. Which is which you ask? Never mind Cyril, just take a nap. That more than likely isn’t your name, but if you are called Cyril I just wanted to screw with your mind a little (thanks to Yahtzee, aka Ben Croshaw, for that bit of inspiration). I wanted to get into C class, which I think Leeds Uni wanted us to get into as a minimum, but was placed in B. It does feel like I’m doing more revision than learning, but I guess that’s partially down to the fact that we’re using Minna No Nihongo, the book that we used in Leeds. Not that I mind working with our beloved Biji-san again, but it does mean I’m not really learning anything new in classes. However, what I have noticed is that I’ve managed to retain a lot of things that we’ve covered that I struggled with when at Leeds (or back in Telford) due to my ‘dead goldfish in a sieve’ memory, so perhaps it could be that I’m in the right group after all. I guess also looking at some of the people in other classes, there’re people in class C who have been studying Japanese for years, compared to my … *checks watch* … few days under a year of study. This week we might be able to swap groups around a little to see how we’d get on in the other levels, so I guess I’ll let you know how that goes.
My feet hurt. Off topic I know, but I realised a night or two ago that my feet hardly get any rest and relaxation and haven’t for a good few years! Even now they’re being crushed under my body weight (I sit on my feet in a chair as it’s a comfortable sitting position). I might invest in one of those middle-aged persons foot massager … you know, the one with bubbles. ^_^
Ok, I’m off. *abrupt ending starts and ends here*