It’s been a while since my last update, but better late than never! I think its probably better once a month anyway, more things to write about. So as you guys probably know the summer has been really hot here. But the summer has its good points. Girls in mini-skirts, frozen alcoholic drinks, girls in bikinis, Starbucks Macha (green tea) cream fruppacino, girls in hot pants (yep Kylie has made it to Japan as well), fireworks (hanabi) festivals, and girls in … Yukata? (simple style kimonos).
Personally I think it would be damn hot to wear, but to fireworks festivals and special occasions a lot of women still wear yukata. The first fireworks festival I went to was in O-daiba. O-Daiba is a bay area with an industrial feel, there is the famous spherical glass Fuji TV building, several large shopping malls, an expensive mini-train ride to take you to the different areas around the bay, and the famous Rainbow bridge. I’ve heard Japanese men sometimes propose in the vicinity of the bridge; it even made a mention in one of my favourite Hong Kong triad flicks, Young and Dangerous (part V I think). I went to a mall there called Venus Fort. It is modelled like a mini European city complete with fountains, tenors, and some great Italian restaurants. It might not sound that special, except the town is indoors with its own sky that changes colour according to the time of day. The down side to getting to O-Daiba was the 45 minute wait. Not for some park ride but to get on a trains! The station attendants were extremely organised to cope with so many people, but in humid 35 degree heat sweating like a pig in a sauna with “polite” Japanese kids pushing into my back, I wish they worked a bit faster! You might be wondering what the fuss is about. Unlike the Melbourne Fireworks flop on New Years Eve 2001, these fireworks usually go for over an hour, sometimes two! Since the fireworks went on for so long, we decided to grab some dinner at a fusion style restaurant in the mall. They were advertising a 7 course dinner for half price! $70 each -> $35! What a steal we thought. But halfway through I realised the master chef must have gone to watch the fireworks. Not only that, but it took a loooooong time to be served since some of the waiters and kitchen hands probably accompanied the chef. By the time we finished and rushed outside we only managed to catch the last big bang in-between two multistorey buildings. Bugger. So the following weekend we decided to go to the fireworks festival along the riverbanks in Futako-Tamagawa. I was told it was only a small one by Japanese standards and that the crowds had thinned over the years. We didn’t even have to wait that long to get on the train. To my surprise though, there were so many people when we arrived. The fireworks were absolutely amazing. At one stage there were so many fireworks going off that the sky was just a ash-grey backdrop. We were so close to the fireworks that I kept getting hit by small bits of debris. At first I was a little worried as a woman was hospitalised after getting hit by a 3.5 kg debris at another festival, but in the end though the only downside was the line to get on the train home! But all in all definitely worth it.