The last festival ever! For this summer.

Ah, the last festival of the summer. Yes, with the arrival of autumn topsides (hemispherically speaking), summer matsuri festivals are coming to an end. Most of these involve a bunch of guys (mainly) and girls getting appropriately hammered, then deciding if would be a good idea if they carried an incredibly heavy and ornate shrine (mikoshi) down the road. It’s done with a lot of spirit, shouting, cheering and whistle blowing – something you definitely don’t want to miss if you come to Japan in the summer.  See it before people realise that robots could be doing all the hard work for them!

I’ve had the chance to see a good number of matsuri so far, but this time I had the good fortune to be at a friend’s apartment overlooking the whole shebang, which gave a different perspective on things.

The guys at the top of the next picture are like air traffic controllers.  At least they would be if planes were carried around everywhere by their foolhardy passengers, and the pilots were drunk and not wearing pants.  They also seem to have guys who push against the mikoshi carriers to create extra resistance, as if their job wasn’t hard enough.



These taiko drummers followed the mikoshi around to keep the tempo up and the carriers sufficiently spirited.


And with the summer festivals over, the only thing everyone has to console themselves with is the amazing autumn transformation of leaves into brilliant reds and oranges.  Which I guess I’ll grudgingly accept.



As much as I hate to bring up the 80’s, this bike found in Hakone looks like it came straight out of M.A.S.K.:


I wouldn’t be surprised if it could launch depleted Awesomium-tipped missiles out of its sidecar.  It would probably also do one of those lame M.A.S.K. transformations, like you put the antenna up and twist the beverage holder and it turns into Slightly Different Motorcycle with Elongated Antenna and Death Cup Holder (TM).

At least, I have no evidence that it couldn’t do either of those things, so let’s assume that it could for the sake of clinging to my childhood memories.

But does it come in BBQ?

During a long weekend in Hakone, a resort town about 2 hours from Tokyo, there was an interesting ice-cream shop:

30 flavours

You really need to click on the photo to see the details, but the sign starts with Strawberry flavour, meanders through slightly less common “Peach”, jags to “Purple Sweet Potato” (popular in Japan), then “Green Soybean”, “Tiny Rice Crackers & Peanuts”, and finally, “Potato Chip”.  Not being one to pass up a unique ice cream eating opportunity, I ordered Potato Chip.

I thought that perhaps they used some artificial ingredients to make it, but no.  The attendant tipped a packet of chips into a machine which ground them up and blended them with the ice cream.  Like so:

Potato chip ice cream

Verdict?  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there weren’t enough potato chips.  It was more like vanilla soft serve with gritty particles spread throughout, like you had dropped it on the ground but were too cheap to buy another one.  Still, for ga rit-based dessert, it was very nice.

I’m interested to know if I could bring my own ingredients along to blend in.  Chili?  Fondue?  Hamburger?  And think about how much healthier kids would be eating broccoli ice cream.

I think there could be a market here.