One of my absolute favorite things about Japan- and I have a lot of favorite things- is how almost anything fun, beautiful, or religious gets turned into a festival. Does a city have fireworks scheduled? Ta da! It's a festival. Do you see food stalls set up outside a temple's gates? Festival! Is it cherry blossom season? Festival. Are the iris blooming? Festival. Once mid-summer rolls around, Japan is practically overrun with festivals! Between last weekend's drive from base, to my apartment out in town, and then to a sushi restaurant for dinner, I counted three.
Right now, Zama is having their annual Himawari Matsuri, or Sunflower Festival! Mr. TF is home from deployment (happy dance!) for a brief time, so we dropped Little TF off at preschool and decided to check this festival out. It was our first time at this particular festival, so we were pretty excited!
|This area of Zama has sunflower manhole covers. Too cute, Zama. Too cute.|
|Cheerful flags snap in the breeze and advertise the Himawari Matsuri!|
Part of my festival love includes the awesome people watching. Everyone is always relaxed and having a great time! Kids run around waving their festival toys while parents frantically fan themselves in the heat. Usually there is ridiculously chipper music or classic festival tunes being piped out of a loudspeaker. Of course, purchasing some item of the festival's themed merchandise is an essential part of the Japanese Festival Experience. Make sure to stop by the special snack tent, or pick up a cute cell phone charm!
Rainy season has passed and it is now a full-blown scorching, swampy Japanese summer. When attending festivals, apply the sunscreen, bring a hat, and tuck a fan inside your bag or belt. Black UV protectors for your arms are optional.
|I get not wanting a sunburn. I apply sunscreen and bring a parasol. But the ARM COVERS? |
It was 97 degrees outside! Japanese women, I salute your dedication to perfect skin.
Of course, beating the heat also requires adequate hydration. Keep your eyes peeled. There is always a slushy stand, somewhere!
|So many tasty flavors.|
Sunflowers admired, we took our slushies and sat under one of the tents. Mr. TF got strawberry. I ordered melon, as in honeydew melon. Yum!
|My slushy and free festival fan.|
This particular festival in Zama is fairly small and doesn't have a huge number of booths, but there was still plenty to eat and drink. The souvenir stalls were even smaller, but we did buy some sunflower cookies and a pack of blueberries from a local farmer's stall.
After the shade and slushies cooled us down enough, we reemerged into the blinding sunshine and climbed the observation deck to get the full sunflower view.
|Lots of sunflowers, with plenty more to come!|
The sunflower festival was clearly marked. There were roadside flags, groups of elderly sightseeing ladies, and a giant, sunflower girl balloon. Definitely head over if you get a chance...in the morning, before it gets too hot!
The Zama Sunflower Festival is running from now until Tuesday, July 31, from 9 am-3:30 pm. We drove our car to the Kurihara site and parked in a festival parking lot (look for elderly men waving red batons) for 200 yen. We tried to go to the Nittajuku site but could not find it. If you know where the Nittajuku one is, please let me know where it was hiding!
Disclaimer: I do my best to make sure all my information is accurate. However, details may change or I may just be flat-out wrong. Please let me know if something needs a correction. Thank-you!