Saturday, June 10, 2006

"Be gentle, be festive!"

A little Japanese university cultural lesson for you all...

After I got back from America, I had classes for 2 days, and then to my surprise, we got 2 days off for a 4 day school wide festival called Hokudaisai. It was basically Thursday- Sunday of music, food and dancing all the main street of our school campus. There was a Japanese student section and an international student section for shops, probably around 150 total. I can never imagine Portland State University canceling school for 2 days, much less the small number of students that would stick around to participate in the activities if school was cancelled!

It's pretty much a food festival and over 4 days I ate:
fried potato
okonomiyaki potato
shrimp and pork dumpling
ethiopian curry
cambodian curry
pakistani curry
Indonesian curry
Korean jijimi (pancake)
Jamaican jerk chicken
Egyptian sawerderma (chicken saute)

I worked for one day at the booth of my churches English cell group. Basically, those who aren't cooking or serving food have to stand out in the street and collect customers by saying (in Japanese) "how about some Jamaican chicken? Would you like some Indonesian curry. It's delicious!" Everyone along the 1 km road is doing the same thing, so add the music and people's chattering and it's quite a lively place.

The best part about Hokudaisai- even better than the food- was walking around, especially the international part, and talking to all the shop people. Me and Hanna talked with our new friends for an hour about the relations between America, Egypt and Sudan. I chatted with a guy from Spain about Catholicism and Christianity. I met the friends of my precious Indian Princess Ramya.
I watched my Korean friend Minsoek's dance.

Everyone works diligently to set up the best shop. These guys decided that a giant walking bottle of mayonnaise and a paper octopus would do the trick!

What a great weekend!

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