By Ben Mirin, CIR
July 7th, 2011
The drive home from the Yakuba usually takes about two minutes, but this evening was different. At nearly every intersection, Nanae’s rush hour traffic came to a halt as crowds of children in brightly-colored yukata flooded the crosswalks. They rushed to keep time with the changing of the lights, swinging bulky cloth knapsacks and scattering their contents of sweets and little trinkets that clattered like a festive hail on the pavement.
It was a rare spectacle to see Japanese people trying to cheat the flickering crosswalk signs, but I had to pull over into a 7-11 parking lot to learn what could entice them exhibit such outlandish behavior. I got out just as a group of girls emerged from the store peering intently into their bags and nearly tripping over one another to compare their latest payload. They mingled and danced impatiently on the corner until the lights changed, then merged with an oncoming group of mothers and toddlers and raced over to the yakiniku shop across the street. I followed them up to the door, but there was no way to see inside beyond the crowd that had amassed outside, so I waited.
Through the doorway sounds of chanting could be heard, punctuated frequently by the affirming laughter of several deeper, gruff voices inside. Within moments, the children emerged in a rush to meet up with their parents, who had caught up and were waiting just outside. As they moved off and crossed the street again I pushed through the tousled curtains hanging above the doorway and entered the shop. Continue reading “Tanabata Matsuri”