My Japanese Festival

April 21, 2013
This was my story; Walking past the church I could already see the smoke rising from behind; into the open street I walk until I reach the opening to the gates of my Japanese Community Center in LA, California. Though not even in Japan, right as I step through the wide gates I get welcomed by hanging Japanese lanterns, Japanese music blasting out of the speakers, smiles of many short Japanese Americans and the source of the cloud of smoke, Japanese food! I was born and raised going to these festivals and every year it brings great memories of where I come from and my background. The smell of udon, a Japanese noodle dish, choshu bows and musubi filling the air of the center; the taste of rainbow snow cones melting in my mouth. I can hear the loud banging of the taiko drums and laughter that fills the air; I can see many friends and family enjoying spending time with one another, playing games and fellowshipping with each other; lastly touch, I can touch my soft kimono draped across my body which is supported with a long cloth tied in a bow in the back; feeling the gentle hands of my mother putting my hair in a traditional Japanese bun with a flower to make it complete.
This was my day; as my family walks through the front gate of the center, my brain automatically turns to find my best friend. Once together we begin our long day. As many of us already know, grandparents are indeed one of the huge sources of grandchildren’s enjoyment! They will definitely spoil you rotten. Before the festival begins my grandparents traditionally gave each one of us kid’s money to play games according to our age; which in this case I am 8 receiving 8 dollars. Having this money as well as a few dollars of my own and my parents help with money, I begin my long day of fun games and food with my best friend! We start out spending the beginning of our day playing games until we realize our bags our decreasing in space with prizes as well as our money running low. This is the time when we conclude that we need to slow down on the games and probably eat lunch. Once finished, we begin playing again while still remembering in the back of our heads what happened at the beginning of the day. So we would slowly take breaks by hanging and talking with friends or helping out in some of the booths, especially “The Halo Toss”, which was a game where you toss rings and try to get it over a prize! As the day continues to progress, my friend and I get a snow cone and sit on our traditional curb. We sit there under the hot sun while our snow cones slowly melt to the ground and on our hands, resulting in a sticky delicious mess. On and on time moves on faster than expected and once dinner passes we then get ready to dance. Once in our bright colorful kimonos many gather around in a big circle and begin to dance to Japanese music and taiko, following the lead of people in the middle. My favorite dance was always the one with the Japanese fan, because it always made me feel more Japanese! At the end of the dance my grandpa along with other men hand out coupons to the people who participated in the dance; coupons to play one free game at any booth. This is the time of the day when the darkness eclipses over the center and the lights begin to turn on. Once this time comes every year my grandpa would ask me to help with the raffle tickets. I along with another girl sit on a high table and pick out raffle tickets. My favorite part of this was at the end of the raffles they would give each of us a stuffed animal for FREE! Booths beginning to close and food stands out gave us the mark that the festival was indeed over. Though the day was over I was ready to fall asleep in the back of my white dodge mini van all the way home because of the long day I had. I will always remember the great joys of my Japanese festivals!

That was my story. Time passes. I’m 16 now and 8 years have gone by. Though years and years have passed and now living in a country across the globe in Thailand many things change once you come back from a whole different world. People change, you change; though, some things never do seem to change. One of these in fact does not change, my Japanese Festivals. I still walk through the gates smelling the delicious food, I still sit by the curb eating a snow cone while it melts in my mouth, I still can hear all the loud music and the laughter of people around, I can still see many loved ones and people I used to know. I no longer wear my kimono from years ago, but I can feel my younger cousins kimono all nicely draped across her body, I could see her hair put up in a beautiful bun with a flower to make it complete. Some say past is the past and all that’s left is the next day ahead of you and you have to look to the future. I believe this in a sense, but I also believe the past is a huge gift and it is something to cherish everyday. Live your life day by day remembering the great opportunities and life in the past as well as looking to what’s ahead. I’ll always remember and cherish each moment of my Japanese Festivals in LA, California.

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