22.07.2006 29 °C
Osaka was in the full swing of summer. Dispite the wisping clouds creeping across the sky, the heat clung to grey buildings around us. 29C and humid.
It was time to venture to a summer festival. To leave the comfort of our air-con and witness the local wildlife in their natural environment. Baby J and I headed out to find something to drink.
The vending machines called to us. Beer, beer, beer.
Fortunately, my tastebud dislike the amber gold so we were forced to walk past past Juso station to a Lawsons to buy a Chuhi.
We wander for the next 4 hours, stopping at every convienience store along the way. After 3 Chuhi were had discussed the best way to cook fish, the texture of Natto, how to solve the Middle East crisis in five easy steps, the superiority of Coke over Pepsi and why aliens would never land on earth.
By the 5th Chihi we were in desperate need of a pitstop. We were stuck between Yodobashi and Hommachi, a business district with no where to go. I knew of some department store just past Hommachi but could we make it?
Our walk became brisk and awkard. Our conversation stiffled as we desperately tried not to think about waterfalls and fountains. The weekday was over and suits began to flood the steets. Somehow these people knew our desperate plight and deliberately began jumping in front of us.
A few blocks further and we began to jog, our knees glued together and we shuffled along at unnatural speeds using only our lower legs. The Chuhi needed an out and we were still 2 blocks away.
Somehow we made it to the department store and pushed our way down to the basement level, leaving only a trail of smoke as we beelined for the bathroom. *sigh* Release.
Suitably refreshed, we restocked our hands and wandered the final Km to Namba station.
We arrived at Uehommachi station and followed the crowd to the Summer festival.
The festival was in full swing. Roasted corn filled the air. Crowds rocked back and forth while children darted around carrying colourful ice cones.
A large stone Tori gate marked the beginning of the shrine and as we wandered up the stairs, we could finally see the large Taiko drums that had been thumping for the last hour.
Upon the wooden float crowded 8 players and their repetitive heatbeat beat reverberated in the crowd. The float was twisted and turned and drawn back and forth to the delight of the crowd.
Eventually, it was moved to a store, illuminated by the lanterns and the strobe of cameras and mobile phone flashes.
The beat continued.
The float was rocked and tip. The beat continued.
Sideways. Twisted. Vertically. Turned. The beat continued.
Behind us, a parade of flute players, dancers and dragons cicled in the corner.
A wall of lanterns decorated the far corner.
Back amounst the stalls, a shooting gallery provided a melody to the distance drumming. The guns making high pops as people shot at lighters, tabaco and stuffed toys. A cheer rung out whenever something was hit, followed by a sigh when the item failed to fall of its tiny perch.
We found a fireworks stand and after loading ourself us we giggled our way off to the park.
We sat there for over an hour, lighting fireworks, watching the festival crowd wander snake through the stalls in tradition dress, drunken business man getting overly excited in conversation, children darting around slides and covering their ears after each colourful explotion.
And all the while, in the distance, the beat continued ...