A very common and popular item during celebrations in Japan is fireworks! During my stay my host sister had a celebration with her friends, they were on a very succesful softball team and won an important game. All of her friends slept over and they decided it would be fun to have some fireworks so, I got to tag along with my host father on his errand to the Hanabi Store (Fireworks). There are so many different types of hanabi, I counted over a hundred! They have the classic ones where you lite up the stick, and more interesting ones where when it’s lit the shape of it is in a spiral and the colors change. Afterwards we went home and got to play with the hanabi for a bit. Unfotunately, one of the neighbors called the local officials and we had to go back inside but, if you are ever in Japan and are invited to a festival watch out for the awesome fireworks display!
I personally thought this would just be something fun to post. The photos above help show some of the normal food that is put in bento boxes, mine was made by my host mother. As you can see in the photo my bento box that day included a little sandwhich and fruit. Also, there is a photo of a note that my host mother- a.k.a. Okaa-san- slipped in my lunch that really made me smile. I feel the photo shows a glimpse of what a great relationship I had with my host mother and family during my stay.
One thing I highly reccomend to anyone who comes to Japan is Ramen Shops! Not only does it taste amazing, but I personally love the atmosphere and seating arrangements. When I first walked in the host immediately called out a greating to me, with a huge smile on his face. The Ramen Shop I visited was very quirky because all the men were shouting out orders and had little towels covering their heads; The place was buzzing with all the energy. Another plus I find is the furniture. When I entered I was seated at a little table where I had to sit on a pillow on the floor. After the waiter came my host parents told me it is a custom to tie your hair back, so it wont get in the food. I was very confused, but then realized that in a small container at the edge of the table the restaurant supplies plastic hair ties. I found the whole experience very enjoyable and encourage all of you to visit a Ramen Shop whenever you can!
While I was in Japan my host family decided to take me to Heian Shrine in Kyoto. The area was very beautiful and in the summer they have a tradition, which I got to participate in. At Heian Shrine there is a small river and during the hot summer months, tourists are able to walk through the river to cool off. After we entered the river I was given a lit candle, and then I placed it on a fixture and prayed. Afterwards, we exited the river and walked to a small tent where workers served us cold water directly from a spring! The walk through the river and beautiful scenery is very refreshing which is why it is quite popular among the people.