He was a bold man that first ate an Oyster!–> Kashima Oyster Festival!!

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OYSHI OYSHI! Meaning delicious in Japan also explains how amazing the Oyster festival is! How often are you able to buy a huge bag of oysters, some rice triangles, hot dogs, and corn on the cob to grill for yourself for less than 20 bucks? The oysters themselves would be almost $40 in the U.S. Out here in Japan they are collected by the bucket load so no need to worry.

At the Kashima harbor park we bought our oysters, some beer, and the other foods mentioned above and we had ourselves a delightful afternoon cooking oysters on the grill, listening while they sizzle and when they finally pop they are ready to be pried open and eaten. I was wearing protective gloves because the coals become very hot and oyster shells are no joke in the heat. We munched for a good two hours on oysters, corn, and rice triangles. The Japanese were loving it! The oyster festival lasts the entire month of November in Sasebo and we had been so busy we barely made it the last weekend they were holding it. Lucky us! If I’m in town next year I’ll be back and that’s a fact.

So Good!

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Karatsu Autumn Festival

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One of my best and most traditional experiences in Japan! Chi, a Japanese friend invited us to a traditional festival in Karatsu Japan on Kyushu Island. Of course we said yes and my sister and I were picked up on a raining morning with another American friend and Chi to hit the road. We were zipping along in seconds and I feel like in Japan the towns are so close but because the speed limit is always so slow and the roads are so narrow and the roads zig and zag it is always hard to get to where you are going quickly.

Karatsu is a town close to Saga and holds the biggest Autumn festival of Kyushu island every year. Karatsu is composed of 14 cho’s (neighborhoods) which each have a giant float made of plastic and lacquer. Each year someone in the cho is chosen to ride on top of the float and a big group of the young men and women and children pull the floats through the city with long ropes while they beat drums and play music. It was amazing!

Floats of Karatsu

Floats of Karatsu

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Before the parade started we went to a traditional Japanese house for dinner. During the festival which lasts the whole week, there is much food prepared to celebrate. A large fish is cooked under hot coals for 3 days time and there are just platters of everything. We came inside the house, removed our shoes, and were ushered to sit down at a low table laden with food. We were then given small bowls and dishes to try the food to our hearts content. One of the men even let us try on his silk robe that was embroidered with war fighters! He had already drank a bit too much sake. haha.

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When we left that house the guy in the silk robe followed us out and insisted that we come across the street to his home. We tried our hardest to politely decline but he wasn’t having it so off we went, up to his house, to the surprise of his family. They were very nice and passed around a soup for us to try with mushrooms, greens, and rice cakes. We didn’t stay long since our group had about 9 people and we had yet another place to get to.

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We headed back into the town and got a cab ride to a restaurant that one of the Japanese people knew the owner and it turns out we were ushered into the closed restaurant to be served personally by the chef. The chef’s wife also asked me to help interview her son in English for a class project. Of course I accepted.

By the time we tried all of the delicious foods he had prepared for us, I was completely stuffed. At this time the rain had started to pick up outside pitter-pattering down the roof tops. They allowed us to borrow umbrellas and then we were off walking towards the center of town for the parade.

The streets were a sight to be hold! Every cho was dressed in their silk robes representing their neighborhood and we lined up in the streets with everyone else as one of the floats rounded the corner. It was magnificent. Apparently they hold the parade for hours but because of the rain they were bringing the floats to the center of the town and getting them inside out of the weather so they wouldn’t get ruined. What a great festival and parade!

I ended the day at a stand buying a banana dipped in chocolate on a stick. We were kindly given a ride back to our car and hit the road for home. Chi had stayed behind with her friends so it was just the American crew on the way back. We got lost about 8 different times which is the usual over here. haha.

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This is one of my most favorite Japanese experiences so far!

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A Weekend of Bliss.

You know that feeling, where you can’t stop smiling because everything seems so right? I felt like that all weekend and it was glorious!

Finally we were able to relax and do whatever our hearts desired. The ship was going no where, everyone I wanted to see was in port and we let the weekend take us like a leaf in the wind, whichever direction it had in store. On Friday I made up my last duty day for another officer and was on the ship, but I didn’t have to arrive until 4pm because I had the last day of the ASWE class and graduation. I openly admit to the fact that went home after the graduation, which concluded at 10am, instead of going to the ship because my orders have me TAD until that Monday so I don’t even feel a little bad about it. I don’t feel bad even more because of the fact that I went home to give my apartment a thorough [and when I say thorough I mean it] scrub down.

After arriving at the ship I went to bed super early because I had the 3am to 8am watch. As soon as I got off one of my guys brought me some homeaid chili to eat and I ran home to cook that up. It was so hott that my mouth was burning, I was sweating, and I had to drink 3 cups of milk while I danced around my kitchen because I couldn’t sit still.

Afterwards I headed over to P’s house to go to a festival but on the way saw that the extremely upscale rich neighborhood that I was driving through was having a neighborhood wide yard sale. You better believe I ran to P’s to get him, but upon arriving found out that he was already over there buying stuff. So together he and I shopped and shopped and got steals from the rich people who were intent on getting rid of their really nice belongings. We, along with his roommate loaded up quite a few things and then headed back to decorate his house. I got a huge picture for only $10 and a bunch of hardback books for only $1. What a great morning!

Then, we decided to go to a BBQ at one of their friends houses from another ship and so instead of going to the festival I ran home with my goods, changed into my bathing suit, and headed back to his house to lay out on their ginormous deck. That’s when the drinking began. haha. At around 1 pm.

At 4 we left for the BBQ and had a great time cooking out and enjoying each other’s company. The ice cream truck came down the street and we all ran out to buy some like the little kids that we truly are and then afterwards we headed to the Jubilee festival to watch some tonic. At this point I was fairly intoxicated and it made the drive over very entertaining, although maybe not for P since he was our DD.

At the festival, we realized that we had missed the concert but we were just in time for the fireworks. Which were Awesome! I somehow decided to double fist a few beers and we jumped a fence to go to the VIP portapoty’s that are locked up. A woman took pity on me and let me go. Then afterwards we decided to jump another fence to take pictures on a caboose. I being the drunk person that I was jumped the fence but ended up falling right on my face and I started laughing and couldn’t stop. We got the pictures and when I went back over the guys helped me this time.

We decided then that it was time to end the evening with a funnel cake. P just dropped me off at my house and came over early this morning to drive me back to my car which was at his place. It worked out perfectly because I made it to church and now we are planning on going back to the concert to see Rodney Atkins and then I’m making an extravagant dinner for them tonight, which will be edamane [japanese appetizer], corn on the cob, steak teriyaki and watermelon. Served with wine that I aquired from the wine festival a few weeks ago. I don’t know how much this all goes together but I guess we’ll have to see.

On a much more serious note I arrived on the ship on Friday with my orders and handed them in, just to receive a new set of orders to go to boarding officer’s school for VBSS which is Visit Board Search and Seizure. The US Navy is able to stop an international ship on the waters and search their vessels for any illegal things. Apparently I’m going to be a part of the team!!! This is extremely exciting. I feel that I somehow received this by chance, but I will take it willingly. I can’t wait!

Last note of the Day: The LOST series finale is tonight which is very interesting to say the least. I’ve just recently got back into the show and will be watching the end of the end tonight. good stuff.