Saturday, July 15, 2006

Youchien Natsu Matsuri

Which means Kindergarten Summer Festival. The children prepared for weeks, and Amy was looking forward to it with all the excitement of Christmas. They worked really hard to create festival stalls selling all the things that are sold at festivals in Japan. There were fried noodles, crushed ice, goldfish, ice cream, toffee apples, lucky dips, water balloons and other games, with all but the water balloons made by the children out of paper.

Amy's team were working on the mask stall (at left, proud Amy in her 'hapi' coat). She'd been telling me for days that I would take one look and know her mask, and I had no idea what she was talking about! Each child made a mask, either a Hello Kitty, an Anpanman, or a princess, then they pegged them to a frame, and sold them to the parents and each other. Above, Lena is wearing the mask Amy made.

When we arrived, our children gave us an envelope made and decorated by them, full of tickets for all the stalls. They also had their own tickets. Half the kids played the part of the stall-keeper while the other half shopped, and then they swapped. At left, Amy and Lena visit the toffee apple and toffee strawberry stall.

Next came the 'Gion-guruma'. Copying the real Nakatsu Gion Festival later this month, the kids got into two teams and pulled floats (Gion-guruma) they had made themselves around the kindergarten grounds, out the gate, up the road and back. Real festival drummers provided the music, creating a very authentic atmosphere.

Below, Amy poses beside her team's kuruma. She thought up the name for it - Star. She was especially proud of the colouful dragon she had drawn on the side. Above, her team are lined up to pull the kuruma with ropes. Amy is second from the left, behind the boy in the green shirt.

After the two teams completed their circuits, the kids put on a dance for us, then invited the parents to join in a dance as well. Finally there was a fireworks display and ice blocks, which I helped hand out as my duty for the night.

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