Monday, May 31, 2010

May 5th

May 5th is a very important date for me. On this, the Hojo Matsuri (festival) is held in Odawara. This year I carried the big mikoshi (portable shrine) into the sea. It doesn't look so big nor heavy but it weighed a couple of tons and felt like even more! My parents were here visiting during this time, so they got to see the festival. It was so fun to show them one of my favorite parts of Japanese culture, the matsuris. What made it even more special was that it was Taiga's first matsuri (初節句 Hatsuzekku) and his first Children's Day (formerly called Boy's Day). I love how the whole community comes together and helps out. Some carry the mikoshi, others direct traffic, while others are back at the make-shift base camp preparing curry, onigiri, yakisoba and keeping the beer on ice. And this all couldn't be done without the generous donations from the local businesses and townspeople. Every one chips in and this matsuri tradition that started about 500 years ago in Odawara lives on.

But the main reason May 5th holds such importance to me is that it's the day I met Aki. It was during Golden Week in 2001 while I was hanging out with my buddy Ari (from NY). She was with her friend Hitomi and our paths crossed and I've never looked back. On a side note, when we met way back then, Aki's English was at the beginner level. In fact, my Japanese was even better than her English! I know that's hard to believe now and my Japanese hasn't really improved (maybe this was because I was too busy teaching her English, haha JK). She's far from being a true bilingual but can communicate fairly fluently and naturally in English. This shows that with a lot of hard work (as she did), you can also improve your English to a high level. Keep studying hard and keep having fun!